This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Although finding the perfect fit for a sales position can be daunting, following a few simple steps can make the process much smoother and improve your chances for success. Those steps include creating a strong job description, determining the best compensation package for the role, and using job boards and your job ad to target sales reps. We’ve even created a free checklist to help you.
Don’t forget about ZipRecruiter, too. Its user-friendly platform helps you source top talent with powerful tools like an applicant tracking system (ATS) and a free Highlight Enhancement ($60 value) included with your 4-day free trial. Plan ahead and find success when it comes to hiring stellar reps.
1. Create a Job Description
Every organization knows that hiring for any role, let alone finding the perfect sales representative, is no easy task. Doing your due diligence, though, with a well-crafted job description can help to attract quality applicants and eliminate those who don’t meet all of the necessary criteria—saving you time in sifting through applications and streamlining your recruiting process. With clear expectations from the start, it’s much easier to find a candidate that fits just right.
Follow these steps to create your job description:
2. Decide How to Compensate Your Sales Rep
Once you’ve decided exactly what it is you want your sales rep to do, you can consider the best way to incentivize the position. There are several ways to pay a sales rep, but the most common is to provide them with some kind of base pay (salary or hourly), along with some pay that’s based on performance, such as a bonus or commission. This will vary by industry and sales rep experience, so make sure you’re considering all relevant factors when determining a commission structure.
For example, retail employees may make a flat dollar amount for every item sold, whereas software salespeople may make a percentage of the first year’s deal value. No matter what you decide, we recommend setting a policy where you only pay a commission after a customer or client has completed their payment.
For a more in-depth look at salary vs hourly pay, check out our comparison article.
3. Post the Sales Rep Job on a Job Board
Once you’ve got your job description written and are clear on how you’ll pay your sales rep, it’s time to post your job opening where job seekers can find it. You’ll typically start with a job ad and screening questions and then determine the best job board(s) to use. You may consider a sales-specific job board like SalesJobs (focused on general sales positions) or SalesTrax (focused on tech sales) or one of the highly popular general job boards.
For a list of top job boards, you can post your open sales rep position, check out our guide to the best job posting sites.
Write a Compelling Job Ad
A sales rep job ad is a marketing tool to entice talented salespeople to join your team. However, it also serves to provide enough information to help interested job seekers determine whether the job is a good fit for them, including the pay structure you’ve decided on for this role. Not every salesperson will be comfortable working under a commission-only structure, for example.
You can write a compelling job ad in a few simple steps:
- Use your sales rep job description as a starting point.
- Keep your job ad succinct, and use bullets to make it easier for job seekers to read.
- Include questions in your job posting so those applying to your job are clearly aware of your requirements.
- List experience requirements and set those as “must haves” or “preferred.”
Use Pre-screening Questions
To help job seekers assess their qualifications when applying for a job, online job boards like ZipRecruiter (shown below) allow you to add pre-screening questions. For example, ask candidates about their years of selling experience, industry expertise, or level of education. You can also set up common and specific interview questions to automatically send to candidates who apply for your job. Make sure you’re avoiding any illegal interview questions.
4. Screen the Applicants Responding to Your Job Ad
When hiring salespeople, it’s crucial to make sure they can do the job. Your sales rep serves as the face of the company by representing your brand. Therefore, it’s best to review their applications and schedule screening calls to confirm whether they fit your culture and style in addition to having the job skills you need.
Review Applications & Cover Letters
While a cover letter is nice to have, pay close attention to applicants’ resumes. Make sure the resumes match your must-haves for this position. As you review the job application, resume, and cover letter, check to ensure the applicant has the following:
- Experience in your industry or with your product line
- Basic selling skills, including prospecting and closing skills
- Solid communication skills (including a resume and cover letter free of typos)
- Satisfactory answers to any questions asked on the application
Verify the Applicant’s Job History Online
It’s not a bad idea to do a LinkedIn or internet search of the job applicant by name to see if their social media profile matches what they’ve listed on the job application, resume, and cover letter. If it doesn’t match, you may want to pass on that applicant entirely. According to Indeed, some 40% of job seekers lie on their resumes.
Schedule Phone Calls With Top Applicants
Phone screening is a quick and easy way to assess your top picks. It’s typically a short telephone call that lets you chat with the job applicant, answer any questions they have, and assess their true interest in the job. For tips on what kinds of questions to ask, read our article on how to do a telephone screening interview.
5. Interview the Most Promising Sales Rep Candidates
Conducting an in-person or video interview with your top three to five candidates is one of the best ways to get a sense of the job seeker’s temperament and people skills when you’re hiring a sales rep. During the interview, you’ll ask them questions about situations they’ve encountered, such as how they have overcome pricing objections or what to do when a client says they need to get the OK from their partner first.
By using an online job board, like ZipRecruiter, that offers applicant tracking features, you can schedule your interviews, document your feedback, and even make notes about which candidates appear to be most promising.
Scheduling the Interview
Scheduling the interview with a sales rep job applicant is often the most difficult part. Fortunately, there are new text and email scheduling apps available to help you manage multiple interviews and give your job candidates a choice in picking a time that works for them.
Those wondering how to hire a sales rep are often curious about how to structure an interview or the types of interview questions to ask. Your interview questions should be focused on the job seeker’s interpersonal skills, such as listening, as well as their sales experience. Candidates should be able to provide you with examples of how they interact with people and what kinds of sales they’ve done.
Pay close attention to their body language, tone of voice, and personality. Sales reps must convey a friendly attitude but also be resilient to objections. This is a fine line to walk, and finding someone who can do this well every time is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Keep in mind that some interview questions may violate state or federal labor law, such as asking about family or marital status, age, or criminal background. Below are several helpful guides to give you a starting point for what to ask and what to avoid.
A best practice to ensure fairness across all candidates and avoid discrimination is to use an interview scorecard to keep track of the feedback on each candidate. This is especially true if your sales reps are interviewed by more than one person, such as an HR rep or a department manager. We’ve provided several examples in our article on interview evaluation scorecards that you can download and customize for your sales rep interviews.
6. Put Your Sales Rep’s Job Offer in Writing
Once you find the best candidate, it’s time to put your job offer in writing. Your sales rep job offer should include more than a start date and job title; it needs to be specific and should include the job description as an attachment that the candidate signs off on, noting their ability to achieve the requirements of the role. Further, the compensation amount and how it’s to be calculated should be included in the job offer letter so that the sales rep understands how they’re getting paid.
If you’re interested in using an ATS that can provide job offer templates and keep track of those you’ve hired, consider using ZipRecruiter.
7. Hire & Onboard Your Sales Rep
If you use an ATS, hiring can be simple. You can send the candidate reminders along with forms they need to sign and documents they need to review. If all hiring is done in-house, use a new hire checklist to make sure you don’t forget to gather the proper paperwork for your new sales rep, such as their W-4 tax withholding forms or I-9 documentation.
Additionally, onboarding your new hire will require a specific amount of sales training and support to ensure they are successful. Even for highly experienced salespeople, it’s crucial that you give them training on your industry, competitors, and the services and products you offer so they’re not tripped up by any potential client questions. It’s not a bad idea to assign your new hire a peer mentor or trainer to help them acclimate to the new role and learn best practices from a more seasoned sales team member.
Check out our sales onboarding guide for a more in-depth read on how to bring your new sales rep up to speed.
Hiring a sales rep is an important process that requires careful consideration. You need to pinpoint what they’re going to be selling and how they will be compensated, post a job, interview, and choose the best candidate. To streamline your hiring journey, consider using an ATS, which can manage these steps for you—saving time in the long run. If you need more assistance, check out our sales management guide.
Make sure top-notch candidates apply by posting on ZipRecruiter—it offers job description templates and applicant tracking features, making it easier than ever before to find the perfect match for your team’s needs. Try it free today—get one step closer to finding quality hires fast.