Recruiting sales staff can be a daunting process for any organisation, but it’s especially nerve-wracking for those business which are appointing a sales professional for the first time. Any sales person is likely to be able to sell themselves at interview, but it doesn’t automatically follow that they will be a good fit for your business and/or your clients. In addition, we only know what we know, so if you haven’t previously recruited a sales team and you’re now at that stage, here are Rosa’s tips and tricks to help you find the right candidate:

The CV isn’t the be-all and end-all
Our years of experience in the recruitment industry have taught us that the best sales people don’t always have the best CVs and that poaching a sales rep from your closest competitor isn’t necessarily the best tactic. While it may seem obvious to attract someone who is clearly doing well for one of your competitors, we recommend treading carefully here as they may not be the best candidate for you or your business. And should you receive what looks like an amazing CV, don’t make the mistake of arranging to interview the applicant and then start selling the job to them.

Think about your culture
Appointing the right kind of people to your team at any level is really vital to creating that dream culture to which you aspire, and this should not be compromised by making the wrong decision and appointing a sales person who simply doesn’t fit.

Get to know your candidate
When we’re interviewing, our sole objective is to get to know the person behind the CV, what makes them tick and what’s important to them. We need to try to ascertain what they enjoy doing, how they like to be managed and what their long-term goals are, as we believe the answers to these questions provide a real insight into the candidate’s character and likely contribution to the team ethic of the business.

Be thorough
Even if within five minutes of meeting someone you feel that they are perfect for the job, make sure that you ask all the questions you’ve prepared and just reserve judgement until the end of the interview. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t get excited about the candidate. Far from it, in fact. We just urge all our clients to make sure they invest the time in really getting under the skin of the applicant and assess what their key drivers are. This is important for a number of reasons:

• it demonstrates to the prospective employee that you really care about their background and what they have achieved, and we’ve yet to meet a sales person who didn’t enjoy talking about their achievements

• it gives them the opportunity to talk, which is helpful in building up a rapport and level of trust between you

• the more you allow the candidate to talk, the more you will unearth about them

Kick the relationship off the right way, right from the start
We believe that the key to a successful recruitment outcome is to start building mutual respect and trust right even at the interview stage, so we recommend that you avoid interrogation and instead focus on encouraging conversation. Bombarding the applicant with questions can lead to shorter, more defensive answers, which is little help in deciding whether they’re a good fit for your business. It also potentially gives the wrong impression of you and your business, and may even result in you losing out on the best candidate.

Don’t be afraid to challenge them
In our experience, sales people like a challenge, so don’t shy away from putting them on the spot to see how they react. At all costs, avoid talking at them for the whole hour as that won’t enable you to learn anything about who they are, what they’ve achieved, what motivates them and why they’re leaving their current role.

Engage with a Talent Partner
And finally, in our view there’s no substitute for engaging with a Talent Partner, and especially one that has experience in sales recruitment. At Exact we’re fully invested in our clients’ success and can add so much value throughout the process, which will potentially save you a lot of time and heartache along the way.

Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket, and we also serve Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Royston and Sawston. If you’re looking to recruit your first sales person or add to your existing team, why not contact us for an initial conversation?