Selecting the Right Sales People

Jerry Scher

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

sales_imgIn years past, the sales person was the primary source of information; however, in today's high tech business environment, quite frequently the client has as much or more information about the product or service options than the sales person. They definitely have more knowledge about their needs and requirements.

Therefore, sales professionals must not only be knowledgeable about their product and/or service offering but must have the interpersonal communication skills and other soft skills enabling them to uncover the clients' needs and expectations, be able to strategically position themselves as a trusted resource and connect the appropriate solution to the pain that they uncover and confirm

This requires the capacity to be truly customer focused and not just product focused: to transition from being a transactional persuader to a skilled consultative resource.

The first step in your recruiting initiative must be the preparation of an accurate and complete job description; one that clearly defines the role, activities and skills that are required. While most companies have accurate job descriptions for their operation positions they lack current and appropriate descriptions for the sales position.

Once the job description is completed, the process of selecting the right people begins with your recruiting activities. Recruiting is a continuous process and not just an event that takes place when a sales opening needs to be filled. The same manner in which you market your company to prospective clients must be executed to create marketing strategies that position your unique brand in your region. The ultimate goal is for you to have potential applicants regularly contacting you because your company is a highly desired place to work.

Networking within your industry, as well as in other industries in which you plan to sell, is a great way to further your recruiting strategy. While seeking people with sales experience in your industry is logical, it is not always an effective approach to finding the most desirable sales people.

If you have created effective orientation and training programs and have a successful sales management structure/system in place, including effectual sales coaching, your networking can be expanded to include candidates that have the right stuff but not the desired length of experience or industry-specific knowledge. In many cases this is the best way to build a loyal, talented sales team.

When adding to your staff is the right decision, we're proponents of hire tough, manage easy. The process of actually selecting the right person for the job involves three, well-defined activities:

Eligibilityinvolves determining if the individual can do the job. You must consider past experience, skills and knowledge currently held, previous training received and the level of education achieved. Carefully review the candidate's resume and don't accept everything without dissecting the information carefully.

Suitabilityinvolves determining if the individual will do the job. This is best accomplished by utilizing a validated behavioral assessment system that can predict how an individual will behave. The assessment should be based on the work environment and should consider the individual's personal interests. It has been established that people will perform more effectively in jobs if they enjoy the required tasks, have a personal interest in the work, and the work environment matches their personal preferences. The assessment must also evaluate the traits or behaviors the individual exhibits and these traits should be tied to the essential traits the job requires. Selecting the right people without determining suitability is extremely costly.

Interview – The third component of the selection process is the most interactive and requires a significant amount of skill and preparation on the part of the interviewer. With the information gathered from the eligibility and suitability processes, the interviewer must carefully plan the interview and determine who else should be involved in the process; team interviewing is by far the most effective. Everyone involved must know the job requirements, review the available information, carefully consider the assessment profile, dig into the resume, and prepare a wide range of questions they plan to ask. The questions should be open ended providing the candidate the opportunity to speak at length, while the interviewer peels back the onion one layer at a time. In the case of a sales interview, the use of role playing is extremely effective in determining a candidate's selling skill. It is quite simple, in a matter of a few minutes, to uncover a candidate's instinctive sales competence.

The process of selecting the right people is a crucial part of building a successful sales team. As in the building of any successful team, selecting the best talent that fits within your organization will enable you to achieve your company's goals.

Key Concepts/Issues for Emphasis

  • To make it today, sales people must be customer focused, not just product focused!
  • Recruiting is an ongoing process, not just an event. It should be an extension of your marketing and branding activities.
  • The selection process should include reviewing eligibility, determining suitability and optimizing the interview process.
  • Does your organization have the capacity to coach talented sales professionals without a lot of experience?
  • Do you have a strong sales management structure/system in place?

If you would like more information about assessing suitability you can contact Jerry Scher at or 404-931-9291. You can also get information about the Harrison Assessment at

About Jerry Scher

Jerry Scher - Founder and Principal at Peak Focus
Jerry’s known by many names -- business builder, executive, conference speaker, trainer, facilitator, coach, mentor. Regardless of the title, the end result is the same -- making people around him significantly more successful. His ability to diagnose business issues and effectively communicate appropriate solutions, that can be acted upon quickly, truly differentiates him.

About Peak Focus

Peak Focus is the only soft skills training, coaching and publishing group dedicated to helping select entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners create sustainable businesses.