How to Recruit Top Sales Reps

Salespeople aren't just the people responsible for building your bottom line. They're also your front-line troops, often the ones with the most daily contact with your prospects and customers. With this in mind, it's important to not only grow your sales force, but to grow it strategically to best represent your brand. Here are some valuable best practices, tactics and resources for those seeking to recruit top sales reps.

There is a common sales mantra “…always be closing.” We would add that you should “…always be recruiting.” Salespeople are always looking for the best fit for their goals and rewards. If their goals and rewards change, it can promote a high turnover. If you discover early on that you have a bad fit, you need a pipeline of candidates to sustain your sales team production. These candidates must have the right capabilities, experience and are a good cultural fit, which can be challenging. Follow these steps to recruit top sales reps:

Define Your Ideal Candidate

To hire the right salesperson for the job, you must identify your need, be able to clearly describe what the job is, what the expectations are, and define the required expertise and experience. This means clarifying whether this sales position is intended to immediately generate sales or perhaps develop contacts for a sales cycle that may stretch into months or years. Get clear on what a cultural fit looks like.

Matching your company's sales needs and selling style to your new hire is the first step in recruiting top sales reps. This should be done in several ways, by creating/updating the job description, defining success factors for the role and the confirming the interview processes and team.

1.    Create or update the job description:

a.       Responsibilities

b.       Activities

c.       Results

d.       Measurements

e.       Communication

2.    Define success factors for the role

Imagine the ideal salesperson for the job, including his or her personality, experience, energy level, reputation and abilities. You may not find someone exactly like that, but if you don't know what you want, the odds of making a bad hiring decision are high.

Recruit Top Sales Rep Success Factors3.    Confirm hiring process and team

Now you’re ready to start looking for top sales candidates.

Where to Recruit Top Sales Reps

The next step is sourcing great talent. Here are some suggestions to assist you to recruit top sales reps:

Referrals. Looking at your network of suppliers, customers, colleagues, advisors and social contacts can be cheaper, faster and more reliable than advertising to the public.

  • Professional associations 

    They may have job lines to help members find employees. Websites where salespeople seek guidance and advice can be of value. One such site, “” offers a sales job board and boasts 10,000 visitors per month, consisting mostly of salespeople seeking tools and skills.

  • Online advertising 

    The speed, freshness and search ability of online job banks make them attractive options for both candidates and employers. LinkedIn, Eluta, Indeed etc.

  • LinkedIn search

    Filtering on LinkedIn’s advanced search feature allows you to narrow in on candidate profiles that are of interest to you.

  • Post-secondary institutions

    You may be able to hire a recent graduate who's enthusiastic, effective and less expensive than a seasoned professional.

  • Events and conferences

    Conferences in your industry are a great place to meet sales candidates who may be working for companies that have related products or a similar customer base. An industry meeting could provide a platform for an informal interview. This kind of background for any candidate will save you time and energy to expedite their effectiveness.

  • Competitors

    Should your need be immediate and a strong feet-on-the-floor performer is a must, the competition is a good source. Remember that many top performers have also signed a non-compete as part of their employment agreement with your competitor.

  • Contact headhunters

    Headhunters specializing in sales personnel aren't cheap, but when labor markets are tight, it may be worth the cost to find a solid salesperson.

You can consider using temporary and staffing services to hire people that might be doing some preparatory task to get ready for a top tier sales person. Temporary and staffing services can provide you with sales and marketing tasks or personnel on a temporary, temp-to-perm, or permanent direct-hire basis. Such a person could be distilling leads, making cold calls, sending email and such just to do some light tasks in preparation for your campaign.

Now that you’ve sourced top sales reps, how do you equip your interview team to choose the best sales reps for your business?

Stay tuned for part 2 that includes 102 Interview Questions to Recruit the Best Sales Reps for Your Business. In the meantime, visit our Recruiting Top Sales Talent training solution.