How To Hire The Best Salespeople In 2021

Hiring salespeople is relatively easy. Hiring the best sales reps, however, is a totally different ball game. We take a look at the best ways to hire salespeople along with the skills you need to look out for to ensure you hire the best.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hiring the top talent can improve profitability by as much as 30%
  2. In order to attract the best candidates, you need to pro-actively reach out to talent
  3. You need to have a slick process in place to ensure your candidate meets your requirements and you make a good impression on them

Why Is It Hard To Find Good Sales Reps?

Unfortunately, when most companies are looking to hire a sales rep, they tend to be in a time sensitive situation. They want to bring someone in quickly, but recruitment can take time and money and the last thing you want is to hire the wrong person. This time pressure often leads to companies building a team of average sales reps as finding and recruiting the very top talent takes time.

The benefits clearly justify the extra time though with research from Gallup showing that businesses improve profitability by as much as 30% when they hire the best candidates. Your sales team are not just important for generating new business but as building and maintaining relationships that will lead to higher lifetime customer value. A bad hire can often cost you a considerable amount of time, energy and money and the direct and collateral damage could cost more than not hiring in the first place.

Set Your Criteria

Before you start the process, it is important you determine which specific competencies you are looking for. There are some core skills that are needed in a sales role, but every company is different, so you also need to establish the type of personality you want to bring into your organisation. Look at what has been successful or not in your sales team in the past to help determine the common characteristics of top performers.

The Top 5 Skills For Sales People

  1. Confidence: Sales reps need to get used to rejection pretty quickly. They need the confidence to shake off rejection and move on to the next pitch with positivity.
  2. Listening: A good sales rep might have the gift of the gab, but they also need to know when to stop talking and start listening. Understanding the customers wants and needs is key to adjusting your pitch to respond accordingly.
  3. Rapport Building: Building relationships is important to getting a sale but it also vital to customer retention. Your sales pitch is the initial building block for that long term relationship you are hoping to build.
  4. Empathy: If a sales rep can understand from a customers perspective, then it can help them uncover motivations and pain points to help shape the pitch.
  5. Flexibility: Sales can be a whirlwind with meetings getting moved around, prospects throwing new questions at you and the goal posts often moving. It is important that your sales rep is open to these changes in a positive and constructive way.

Advertising Your Role

Most companies will advertise a sales role on most of the relevant job boards. This allows you to advertise your position to people who are actively looking for a role and can help you attract a number of relevant candidates. It can also attract poor quality candidates and requires some time and effort to narrow down your candidates to the most relevant before you start the interview process. For more information why not check out our Guide to Sales Recruitment Without an Agency


One alternative to advertising your job role is to utilise a head-hunter service to proactively attract the best talent. The best sales people never really need to apply for a job. They will most likely be successful and happy in the role they are currently in. This means the very best candidates are not even aware of your opportunity. Granted, there may be some excellent salespeople who for one reason or another are just looking for a change but in most cases you simply wont be attracting those candidates.

That is where headhunting can offer a real advantage. It allows you to essentially pitch your company and the role to the best candidates who would not normally be in your pipeline. The best talent will most likely be well looked after in their current role and that is where you require a specific strategy to coax them out.

How To Attract The Best Sales Reps

If you want to attract top talent from a job posting, then you will need to ensure you write a well optimised job description and use your ad to sell your company. Job description is one thing, but you need to sell the culture, the perks and the overall opportunity to attract the best.

Of course, if you want the VERY best then you will need to consider headhunting. You can do this internally or you can work with a specialist in sales that will know where to look and how to attract the top talent. Most agencies will charge an average of 20% of the base salary for this service but at ecruit we offer a fixed price head-hunter service from only £895 per campaign.

Where To Find Sales Reps

There are a number of places that the best sales reps can be targeted. LinkedIn is by far the biggest database of top salespeople and is a great place to run ultra-targeted outreach based on your key criteria. LinkedIn allows you to search for people using targeted filters such as location, job title, education, company and more.

Once you have narrowed down an initial list of targets you can then go through a further screening process where you can look at areas such as market experience, awards and the quality of their profile. You might want to see how large their existing network is and how much engagement they get from existing posts.

How To Approach Candidates

Once you have narrowed down your shortlist you can then look at ways to reach out to the candidates you are most interested in. If possible, look for a mutual connection to make the introduction otherwise you have two options. You can either take a guess at the email address based on available information on the company or you can reach out directly on LinkedIn.

No matter which channel you use to reach out, the actual message you use is hugely important as this is the biggest opportunity to grab their attention. Personalise the message. Include the company name and something of interest from their LinkedIn profile. Explain what attracted you to them in the first place. Everyone loves a good compliment, and it starts the conversation off in a positive way. Also, you want to be brief and to the point. Explain why you are interested and give a quick pitch on the opportunity available. This should be enough to get an initial idea if there is any interest.

Interviewing Candidates

A job interview is similar to a sales pitch and so your interview should give you an idea of how the candidate would respond with a potential customer. It is also your opportunity to sell the role and the company to them. A LinkedIn Talent Trend report found that 83% of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked. Make sure you impress them as much as they impress you.

You should also remember that skills can be taught so you should focus on the right attitude and culture fit. Industry knowledge and experience is great, but the right person can quickly pick up new skills.

For more tips why not check out our blog on How To Run A Sales Interview Process or the Top 10 Questions to Ask In A Sales Interview.


Screening, contacting and hiring the best sales reps can be tough and time consuming but it will make a big difference in the long run. If this all sounds too much for you to do yourself then utilising an external head-hunter gives you an expert who knows the market, already has an extensive network and knows the best ways to approach and attract the top talent.

If you are looking to build your sales team then ecruit can help you attract the best talent at a fraction of the cost of traditional agencies. Better still, if you want to build a team you can post one ad and hire multiple candidates all for no additional cost!

From writing optimised job descriptions, listing on the top job boards and managing your applicants, ecruit saves you time and money while recruiting the top sales candidates. We also offer our head-hunter service to help you attract the very best sales reps out there.

Book a 5 minute demo with our team to find out more.

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