We work with companies, small and large, suffering the same issues when it comes to hiring. They all have difficulty attracting, selecting and on boarding the right salesperson.

Hiring the wrong salesperson not only wastes countless hours, it will likely cost the company three to five times the hire’s annual compensation when they don’t work out.

Sales is the most difficult hire

Here’s why:

  • Most job postings are not focused on what matters to the right candidate. Ads often focus on how great our company is, rather than why a certain type of candidate would make a great fit.
  • Resumes stink. They’re merely marketing tools, often professionally created and filled with hype or outright lies. I have read that over 30 million people secure jobs each year by lying on their resume.Yikes!
  • Sales candidates are likely better at question-asking than the interviewer. All they need to do is ask a couple questions and the interviewer is off and running with all kinds of information. And because the interviewer did most of the talking, they will end up liking the candidate.
  • Trusting one’s gut. Rather than having an organized plan in place, the hiring manger simply tries to determine whether the interviewee will fit in the company. Often, they look for someone similar enough to themselves that they will enjoy managing. Gut calls are only right about 14% of the time.
  • Not providing adequate on-boarding. On-boarding a new salesperson is often the manager’s responsibility, even though they already have a full plate. The manager has every good intention but ends up getting pulled in other directions and the salesperson is left floundering.

Solving the problem

Here’s a five-step, nearly foolproof plan of attack:

  1. Use a precise manner to attract the right kind of candidates. Bust out of boring sales ads and really describe the ideal person you are seeking. And, when the market is tight, be proactive about going after the type of candidates with experience selling the way you need them to sell to be successful.
  2. Complete an objective assessment tool before reviewing resumes. Use of a predictive, objective assessment, like the Objective Management Group battery of tools designed specifically for sales roles. See a sample report here.
  3. Briefly screen recommended candidates from the assessment via phone or video. Create a template of repeatable screening questions then implement a scorecard system to rate candidates based on necessary requirements to be effective in the position.
  4. Conduct a thorough interview of the highest scoring, screened individuals.Follow these key elements:
    • Ask everyone the same questions, ones that help you understand how the candidates will fit in with your position.
    • Focus on their resume and ask behavioral questions based on their stated performance. A great, easy-to-read book providing guidance is “Who: A Method for Hiring” by Geoffrey Smart.
    • Use the questions from the assessment report to dig beneath the surface of the candidate. Find out if the gaps in the candidate’s skills will be too significant to overcome.
  1. Follow a repeatable and predictive on-boarding program for the new hire.First, determine what the hire needs to gain from each on-boarding step and shift responsibility to them to get what is necessary to be successful out of the program. Find a good 90-day overview template here.

 Demystifying salesperson hiring and on-boarding

Simply follow this repeatable 5-step process and remember to use science before falling in love with a candidate. To see typical results this program can accomplish, read this case study and if you want help with any of these elements, just contact us.


Gretchen Gordon, President of Braveheart Sales Performance leads a team of consultants who solve sales problems for clients.  She is an award-winning Sales Management blogger and has been recognized as a Top 50 Sales Influencer.  She is a dynamic speaker at conferences and events and contributes sales articles to a variety of publications focused on effective sales leadership including Selling Power.  Gretchen is an avid golfer and is a student of performance psychology.  She loves to explore the parallels between sport and sales performance.