Hiring a Salesperson? Start with a Better Sales Job Description

Sales Job Candidates

Great sales results start with great salespeople; so, when your organization needs to recruit and hire a top-quality salesperson, it pays to start with a hiring process that includes a strategically targeted salesperson job description.

Dangers of Making a Bad Hiring Decision

How important is the hiring process? Leadership and Success guru Peter Drucker once noted that “One third [of hiring decisions] are outright failures.” And yet, too many organizations take shortcuts and hope for the best while ignoring the risks of a bad hire:

  • Continual salesperson turnover
  • Constant (and costly) hiring and training
  • Loss of productive selling time during onboarding and training
  • Potential loss of the sales pipeline while transitioning to a new salesperson
  • Loss of customer confidence due to repeated turnover
  • Misdirected management time due to constant focus on hiring

Benefits of a Good Hiring Process

On the other hand, a better salesperson hiring process can yield benefits not only during the hiring period but throughout the tenure of the hired sales team member. These benefits include:

  • Greater sales performance, due to better-matched candidates being hired
  • Standardized process so each job candidate is evaluated equally and fairly
  • Identification of hiring process steps to refine if bad hires become the norm
  • Less time spent managing the hiring effort and more time managing the sales effort
  • Job clarity and expectations resulting in a higher chance of meeting or exceeding sales goals
  • Reduced turnover

First Things First: Start by Looking for the Ideal Fit

When hiring a salesperson, rather than looking to find only the person with the best past sales track record, focus instead on this goal: finding the best salesperson who fits your company’s unique goals. That means considering the strengths and weaknesses of your current team members and then determining what mix of those strengths and weaknesses are needed for your next hire. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • How much experience should the new salesperson have?
  • What level in prospect organizations should the salesperson be comfortable and capable of selling to?
  • What types of sales cycles should they be proficient with? Transactional? Strategic? Short selling cycle? Long cycle? Cycles that require working with a single decision maker or groups and committees?
  • Is industry experience a must-have? Or will you be better served by looking for a salesperson with transferable skills from another industry? (See more below.)
  • What personality traits and interpersonal skills should your new salesperson possess to fit in with your existing sales team and customer cultures?
  • Do you need a specialist focused only on new client acquisition or a generalist who can handle all aspects of sales and account management?

By filling out your sales team with the best fit for your company, you gain the most desirable salesperson that fits your culture, works well with your team, and consistently exceeds their sales quota.

A Better Sales Hiring Process Begins with a Better Salesperson Job Description

Before you can recruit, hire, onboard, and train a superior salesperson, you’ll need to clearly define that salesperson’s role. If your company has been “winging it” and going with the “I know a good fit when I see it” strategy, you will want to do a thorough needs assessment or a “gap analysis” before hiring. If you have a job description and it is up-to-date, be sure to review it before each hiring cycle to see if it needs to be tweaked to account for differences between the position to be filled and past hires. It is very important to determine what you desire before you start looking. Too often, you find someone who appears to be a good fit, but if you haven’t built an up-to-date job description, how do you know what a good fit looks like?

Words of warning: When replacing a top sales performer, avoid setting position requirements based on traits similar to the departed sales superstar. Instead, consider if your current or future needs call for a different skill set to take you to even higher achievement – eventually. Also, avoid basing your position requirements on traits or qualifications your prior salesperson lacked. In other words, whether your departing salesperson was particularly good or bad, keep your new position description focused on what you want moving forward.

To craft a better salesperson job description, include:

  • Information highlighting your company’s unique sales team culture, working environment, and other key organizational attributes. (NOTE: While this might not be required for a strictly internal job description, it will be helpful when the description is adapted to a sales position advertisement.)
  • Primary job responsibilities
  • Where the position fits in the organizational structure (including reporting relationships)
  • Required qualifications, skills, capabilities, and success traits
  • Required education, experience, and licensing requirements
  • Work hours, location, conditions, and benefits
  • Sales compensation components including salary (and salary mix of fixed and/or variable pay), benefits, commission structure, and other perks

While these fundamentals can be somewhat static in nature, you might also choose to include other more dynamic components such as:

  • Present opportunities, challenges, and workload
  • Current sales team culture considerations, such as the management style of the person to whom the new salesperson would report
  • Sales approaches, methodologies, and roles (e.g., whether the candidate is expected to function as a specialist or generalist, hunter or farmer, etc.)

Bottom Line:

Making a good hire for your sales team takes strategic effort, dedicated time, and a well-defined process that starts with a current, complete, and comprehensive job description. Because you’ll be competing against other employers for top sales talent, make sure you put in the effort necessary to stand out and connect with the best sales candidates.

To make hiring easier, here’s a sales team job description template. Or you can outsource your sales recruiting effort by connecting with dedicated sales recruiting professionals at Breakaway Sales Recruiting, to learn more click here or call 844.874.7253.