How to Find a Sales Rep

Learning how to find a sales rep for your open sales positions is only half of the battle. You have the attention of some potentially high-quality commission only sales reps, but your job has only just begun.

Now you need to explore the unique potential of each candidate – Do they have the right approach, education, experience, and skills to be part of a great sales team? Many sales managers think that starts with the interview, but a little planning and preparation will give you much better results.

Because you may have lots of good salespeople to screen and filter (especially if you use our services) you’ll need to create a fast, effective, repeatable process for recruiting sales people. This will make your hiring decisions easier. Here’s a guide to make that happen:

  • Step 1 – Create a “Standards” Document.
  • Step 2 – Review How Your Candidates Look “On Paper.”
  • Step 3 – Identify the “Soft Skills” You Need.
  • Step 4 – What Common Areas Do Your Successful Sales Reps Share?
  • Step 5 – Creating Your Sales Hiring System.
  • Step 6 – Putting Your Sales Recruitment System Into Action.

Time To Hire says: We recommend you follow all of these steps, but even if you don’t, just using some of them will help you learn how to find a sales rep more efficiently.

Step 1 – Create a “Standards” Document

how to find a sales rep interviewing peopleThis “standards” document, also known as a guide or rubric is a simple document that defines the what you expect from candidates in sales positions. It generally has a “spectrum” of ideal qualities, from the perfect candidate down to the worst candidate.

You can easily create a standards document from the various job descriptions and objectives you’ve put together. Go through those documents, work out how your ideal sales candidate would look, and include that in your guidelines for recruiting sales people.

Time To Hire says: Your standards document will evolve over time. You just need to create a basic framework now and you can test and tweak it as you begin interviewing and recruiting sales people.

Step 2 – Review How Your Candidates Look “On Paper”

Review all of the resumes and other information from your sales candidates against your guidelines for recruiting sales people and ask:

  • Do they meet your educational and training requirements?
  • Do they have the right experience for the sales role you’re hiring for?
  • Do they have the right qualifications and certifications?
  • Do they demonstrate the skills and results you’d expect?
  • Are there any other areas where they do (or don’t) excel?

Time To Hire says: These questions are just starting points for finding a sales rep – Develop your own questions around the sales roles you want to fill.

Step 3 – Identify the “Soft Skills” You Need

When you are trying to find a sales rep, make sure you think of what “soft skills” you want. Soft skills make up the intangible qualities you’re looking for in a sales candidate. Those might include their approach, negotiation skills, client management, ability to close a deal, and more. Think about what matters most for your sales position and include the main areas in your guidelines for recruiting sales people.

Areas to explore include:

Traditional Sales Ability

Is your sales process very involved? Do you need candidates who have innate sales skills, or can they make it by on intuition and a willingness to learn the ropes over time?

Product Experience

How important is it that new sales representatives have lots of experience using your product or service? How about knowledge of the “ins and outs” of your product; the features, the benefits, unique selling points, sales objectives and so forth.

Charisma and Approach

What does a successful sales person look like within your business? Do they possess strong interpersonal skills, or is that less-important? Do you need your candidates to be strong extroverts and “natural” salespeople?

Drive and Motivation

What drives your most successful commission only sales reps? Is it financial incentives like bonuses, quotas, monthly checkups, and yearly promotions? Or is it personal motivators like the desire to succeed, enjoyment of the sales process, and a competitive spirit.


Time To Hire says: These are just a few areas to consider for soft skills. When recruiting sales people, you might look into specifics like negotiation techniques or more general like how communicative someone is.


Step 4 – What Common Areas Do Your Most Successful Sales Teams and Reps Share?

It’s a good idea to look at your existing sales teams and reps to find some common themes and approaches among your top performers, for example, what skills, education and approach do they have?

Try and identify each area separately (e.g. education level, qualifications, previous employment, training, negotiation tactics, charisma, product expertise etc.) If you can’t find much in common in a certain area, make a note of it – It may not be  as important as you originally thought. Go on to the next area and see if there’s commonality there. Using this comprehensive approach will help you find the main reasons for your salespeople’s success.

There will almost always be a common theme (it’s different for every business); maybe your top sales performers have extensive prior experience selling a similar product, or maybe they all have gone through a similar certification program. Figure out the most valuable on-paper “qualities” for your sales team, and use them to tweak your guidelines for recruiting sales people.

Time To Hire says: Keep digging until you find a common theme, there’s almost always one or two traits that successful sales representatives and sales teams share.

Step 5 – Creating Your Sales Hiring System

Now you’ve created your guidelines for recruiting sales people based on the “On paper” and “Soft skills” you can put it into action. This will help you create the perfect system to find a sales rep.

Go through your guidance document and rank each of the key requirements in each of the two areas (on paper and soft skills). The easiest way to do this is to go through each requirement and rate it on a scale of 1 (least important) to 10 (most important).

Then, list your requirements from highest to lowest. This is the basis of your system for interviewing and recruiting sales people.

Time To Hire says: This is just one approach that we’ve seen works well, but you should feel free to personalize it to your own organization.

Step 6 – Putting Your Sales Recruitment System Into Action

It’s time to make use of all the information you’ve been gathering and find a sales rep. When you’re going through the initial communications with an interested candidate:

  • Keep your guidance document with you.
  • Screen candidates over the phone.
  • Go through each of the requirements in order.
  • Score your candidates against each one.
  • Invite the best sales candidates to interview.

As you’re interviewing:

  • Ask questions to expand on their “on paper” skills.
  • Find out what their soft skills are like (do they have the right personality, charisma or whatever else you think is important.).
  • How well do they know your product?
  • What motivates them?


Time To Hire says: You’ll have to draw on your personal intuition and experience to come to the right conclusion.


Keep in Mind…

It’s almost impossible to create the perfect system for recruiting sales people that always chooses correctly. It’s also important you don’t try and fit every single candidate into a “box.”  Learning how to find a sales rep is never easy.

This system is designed as a tool, a guide to help you make the best hiring decisions in the limited time you have. Hiring good sales reps is a very dynamic, fast-moving process.

Your sales business will benefit from more qualified candidates, less time spent training the wrong commission only sales reps, and an improved system for recruiting sales people.

Time To Hire says: We’ve found this system works well for speed of hiring, finding the right sales reps, screening, and interviewing. It means you can spend less time hiring and more time running your business, training your people, and making sales.

Now you know how to find a sales rep, let us help you get started  hiring them! Whether you need a sales team or just the right commission only sales person, we can help