7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Sales Representatives

March 01, 2019

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Posted by: Lee Sitarz



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Making a poor hire can be costly. Before you hire your next sales representative, take note of the seven mistakes to avoid below.

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1. Not Learning about Their Past Performance

The sales rep you’re interviewing appears to excel at everything they do. They have the personality that fits the role, and they seem to understand best practices in today’s selling environment. But can they sell?

It’s important to conduct background checks on all sales candidates. Past managers, supervisors, and colleagues can help you determine the candidate’s performance level, selling style, and sales numbers.

2. Ignoring Poor Writing Skills

A sales representative’s writing skills are just as important as their verbal skills. They must be able to write clearly and persuasively to engage prospective clients. Their resume, introductory email, and cover letter can offer insight into their communication skills.

Strong writing is articulate, engaging, and concise, and these traits are important in sales.

3. Internal Hiring

Internal hiring can be an effective way to fill a job opening. You already know the person, their work history, and their work ethic. However, a commitment to work and a strength in one department isn’t always a sign this person will succeed in sales.

Suzy might outshine her team in the marketing department, but it doesn’t mean she’ll be able to meet sales targets. Not everyone can migrate easily. The most qualified sales representative often come from outside companies and even other industries.

4. Considering the Wrong Attributes

Take the time to define exactly what you expect your sales representative to do, so when resumes start pouring in, you’ll have a better idea of how to sort through them. What skills are must-haves? What will their key responsibilities be? How much work experience should they already have?

Don’t assume an extrovert will be a champion seller. A salesperson with no drive but a flawless resume may not be as well-equipped as a representative with less experience but the energy to close deals.

5. Going with Your Gut

After the interview, you have a strong feeling this candidate will fit in with your existing team, but going with your gut could be the wrong move. This person might have made a great first impression, but their performance may fall short of your desired standard.

Intuitive feelings can cause bias when a hiring manager has a style similar to the candidate’s, allowing them to connect on a personal level instead of a professional one. Instead of going on gut feelings, use interview questions to thoroughly evaluate whether a candidate is right for the role. Balance their people skills with hard data.

6. Choosing the Right Person at the Wrong Time

Candidates who appear to have it all—outstanding results, skills, and ambition—may not fit into your unique company at this time.

A start-up company or a business still in its early stages presents a very different sales environment than that of an established company with a defined workforce, structure, and process.

Past success at a big company isn’t always an indication of future success. Even an experienced sales rep could struggle with the uneven forecast of a new business.

7. Using Industry Expertise Only

The ideal sales representative for your company could be one who doesn’t have experience in your industry. Unless your industry is highly technical, hiring a new team member from a different industry can offer a fresh perspective.

If you’re looking for sales staff, avoid these seven common mistakes. And remember, a recruiter can help you find qualified candidates.

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Lee Sitarz

Lee Sitarz

Lee earned a degree in marketing from York University, which has helped her succeed in various roles in the staffing industry. She has over 20 years of progressive staffing experience including Branch Management, Sales, Operations, and Marketing. Lee is active at giving back to her community, and spends her down time with her husband and three beautiful daughters.

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