Hiring the right sales team is one of the most important pieces of the sales success puzzle. It’s not enough to just hire good salespeople; you have to hire salespeople who will fit at your company and thrive.
The sales recruitment process isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some best practices you can follow to bring in top talent and reduce your turnover.
If you’re trying to find the best way to hire a talented, diverse, and successful sales team, we have the guide for you. Read on to learn the steps for creating an effective sales hiring process.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Effective SDR Recruiting
SDR recruiting is far from easy. It takes time and effort, but you also want to make sure the people you bring on are going to stick around. Constantly having to fill gaps in the sales team is not the best way to run a business. So, here’s a step-by-step guide to effective recruiting.
1. Determine Your Ideal SDR Persona
First things first: Before you can start hiring, you have to think about the qualities of the ideal candidate you’d like to attract. This means that you should develop a detailed SDR persona (or several personas) with the traits and characteristics that your company finds valuable.
Recruiting personas should provide a clear idea of the core skills, soft skills, and experience that will help new reps succeed and mesh with your current team.
If you’re looking for a template to start from, look at your team. Which reps are your top performers? Which reps have been around the longest? Consider the talents, knowledge, and traits that contribute to success. Consider skills your team may be missing. Use these considerations to help you start laying out the ideal personas for your hiring process.
Core characteristics to consider:
- Level of experience
- Background in sales
- Success in fast-paced, metrics-driven environment
- Perseverance and problem-solving
- How they think about selling
- How they actually sell
- Ability to meet job requirements
Soft skills to consider:
Critical Thinking and Strategy
- Ability to comprehend and synthesize complex ideas into solutions
- Display deep understanding of a product/concept in practice
- Demonstrated ability to receive and implement feedback loops
- Proactively implements new strategies
- Okay with failing and being uncomfortable in the learning process
- A growth mindset
Demonstrable Sales Mentality
- Documented metrics of achievement in the past
- Grit and persistence with clear successful outcomes
Written Communication & Execution
- Ability to strategically and proactively communicate
- Clear written conventions
Presence & Verbal Communication
- Clear spoken communication
- Displays dedication to the sales career and their team
- Situational awareness and ability to adjust communication accordingly
As you develop your ideal persona, you’ll learn more about what you value in your team members. While no one is going to be perfect, the right rep will feel like a natural fit who can integrate well into your team.
2. Prepare a Clear, Complete Job Description
Now that you know what type of salespeople you want to hire, you need to prepare a job description that will attract applicants.
Your job description should do the following:
- Give all the necessary details and responsibilities of the role
- Explain why your company is a great place to work
- Describe what kind of salesperson does well on your team
- Lay out a “day in the life” of a salesperson at your company
- Give a glimpse into your work culture
- Include pay structure and benefits that set you apart
- Separate your qualifications by required and preferred to clarify expectations
- Include bonus qualifications that could make a candidate stand out
A clear and concise job description will bring in the most qualified candidates and ensure neither party wastes their time. It’s extremely important to be transparent at this phase (and, honestly, at every phase) of the hiring process. If you leave out important information, then you might get candidates who aren’t going to be a good fit.
Also, make sure you’re crafting a job description that is unique to your company. Finding a template for the general structure of a job description is fine, but copying the description verbatim is going to make your company seem like every other sales job out there. The best candidates want to know why they should work for you. Also, ensure that your expectations and qualifications are realistic. If your job description represents a beyond-perfect candidate, you might be scaring away good talent that doesn’t want to deal with such unrealistic qualifications.
It’s always worth taking the time to create a high-quality job description. The time you spend on this step now will save you much more time later.
3. Build a Multi-Channel Hiring Pipeline
Now that you have your detailed persona in mind and you’ve created the perfect job description, it’s time to post your listing and attract your applicants. While some people might just post their job listing on a couple of job boards and call it a day, you might be missing out on a ton of quality hires if you do that. Instead, build a multi-channel hiring pipeline that will show you all of the possibilities out there.
There are a wide variety of channels for recruiting sales positions. It’s a good idea to cast a wide net initially and then refine your pipeline as you learn which listings and job boards provide you with the best candidates. The following are some options you can try.
- General Job Boards: You always have the go-to general job boards. Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Glassdoor are a few examples.
- Niche Job Boards: Use niche job boards to expand your reach and target more specific candidates. An example might be a remote-only job board, where you can attract remote workers.
- Job Boards for Underrepresented Groups: Make your team more diverse by posting on job boards like Diversity.com, PDN Recruits, WorkplaceDiversity.com, and other sites with a focus on diversity.
- Social Media: Use social media job boards on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms to increase your reach.
- Recruiters: Recruiters can handle some of the legwork in finding top talent.
- Talk to Your Team: Your sales team may already have a huge network of awesome salespeople. Give your team an incentive to refer successful hires.
With a diverse and varied hiring pipeline, you’ll be able to create a dynamic and highly qualified sales team.
4. Review Applications and Begin Screening Candidates
With all of your job listings posted, you’ll likely have quite a few applications coming in. At this point in the process, you’re going to want to screen your candidates before moving forward. Usually, this is a preliminary interview that can be handled by HR.
This pre-screening process may consist of a brief 15-minute interview, a questionnaire, or an assignment that shows the candidate’s basic sales knowledge and acumen.
You’ll want to decide what your pre-screening process will look like and what information you want to gather. The questions you use don’t have to be complicated, but they should give you a sense of the candidate’s skill-set and their ability to mesh with your team. Once you’ve screened some good prospects, you can move on to the next step.
5. Engage Qualified Applicants and Communicate Next Steps
Contact your qualified applicants on a more official basis, letting them know you’re interested in moving forward to the next phase of the hiring process. You should let your candidates know what the next steps will be and what the rest of the hiring process will look like. This will help ensure you’re on the same page and that the candidate knows what to expect.
6. Have Candidates Perform a Mock Sales Demo
A good next step at this point would be a mock sales demo. A mock sales demo allows the candidate to show how they would sell your product, or the candidate can demo using a product they are already familiar with. While they don’t have to sell it just like your top performers do, they should show you that they know how to sell and how to establish a relationship with a client.
Make a list of things that you would like to see during the sales demo, and the things that are necessary to see. If they meet all or most of your expectations, then you’ll know if it’s a good idea to move forward in the hiring process.
Remember, the mock sales demo isn’t to test if they know your product or service well enough to be a top rep. They can learn that once they’re onboarded. It’s to see if they know how to sell in general.
Be sure you give the candidate appropriate prep time for the demo, and don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions after the demo is over if you have any lingering doubts.
7. Begin Conducting Formal Interviews
Now you’ve pre-screened your candidates, and you’ve learned that they know how to sell. It’s time to conduct formal interviews with the best of the best. You should create a basic interview structure and figure out which questions you want to ask your potential hires.
Your interview should be conducted the same way for each candidate so the process is as fair as possible for everyone. Keep records of each interview, take notes on their answers, and score each interview. Determine a scoring system that you and your hiring team agree on. This will make it easier to compare candidates later.
The interview process is also a great time for candidates to find out if the position is right for them. Make sure you keep the interview communication open and transparent, so they feel comfortable asking all the questions they need to make their decision.
8. Select Your Top Candidates and Make Offers
Now comes the hard part; it’s time to pick the best candidates and make your offers. Sit down with everyone involved in the hiring process and go over your choices together. You want to make the right choices now so you can keep turnover to a minimum.
Ensure everyone’s input is considered equally and that you’re all in relative agreement about who to hire. Once you’ve decided on your applicant, put together the offer and let your candidates know.
Prepare for potential negotiations about salary and benefits. You should leave some wiggle room for this, depending on the candidate, but be sure you know what your budgetary limits are going into the negotiation process.
You should also keep a file with any applicants who made it this far into the process but you didn’t choose. Inform them of your decision and let them know you’re keeping them in mind for the future. You never know if they’ll be a better fit further down the line, so there’s no sense in burning bridges with candidates who almost made the cut.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Diversity, equity and inclusion matter in sales, strengthening individuals and teams to succeed together. Advanced sales platforms like Flockjay help to identify the best sales moments for every rep, then turn those moments into insights everyone can share. A diverse team creates sales content resources that are more robust and more successful. So it’s important to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion measures in your hiring process. But where do you start?
What is diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruiting?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruiting means having a focus on hiring underrepresented groups to be members of your sales team. This includes racial/ethnic groups, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, and more.
How does equitable hiring strengthen sales teams?
Equitable and diverse hiring practices can lead to a more successful and profitable sales team. Having a diverse team from a variety of different backgrounds can help your team develop new sales strategies, build stronger relationships, connect with customers, and collaborate in more dynamic ways.
How do I hire a diverse sales department?
Hiring a diverse sales department requires you to put effort and intentionality into finding diverse candidates. The diverse job boards we listed in earlier steps are a great place to start. Be sure you outline your diversity goals and do your best to meet them.
How do I recruit sales reps in an equitable way?
Make sure your hiring practices are fair and that you consider all candidates equally. When you attract more diverse candidates, it will be easier to create a more diverse sales team.
What Interview Questions Should You Ask in the Hiring Process?
One of the most difficult parts of the interviewing process is determining which interview questions you should ask. As you optimize your hiring process, you’ll be able to refine your questions, but everyone needs a good starting point.
In general, sales questions to candidates should delve into:
- Their skills
- Their areas of expertise
- Their motivation/what drives them
- Their experience level
- Their response to hypotheticals
- Their ability to overcome obstacles
Here are some suggestions for good questions to ask potential sales hires.
Questions That Highlight Current Sales Skills
If your candidate is experienced and has a sales background, you’ll want to ask questions that allow them to highlight their current skills.
Some examples are:
- Tell me about your best sales strategy.
- How have you handled complicated sales prospects?
- What does your sales process look like?
Questions That Explore Future Sales Potential
Not all of your candidates will need to have years of experience. For entry-level positions, you should prepare questions that reveal sales potential.
Some examples are:
- How would you handle a sales prospect who has minimal time to engage?
- What experiences motivate you to become an SDR?
- Why did you choose this industry for your sales career?
Questions That Reveal Motivation and Drive
Salespeople can’t thrive if they don’t have motivation, so it’s important to determine what drives and motivates a candidate.
Some examples are:
- What do you like about sales?
- Tell me about your proudest sales moment.
- What are your goals as a salesperson?
Questions That Reveal Personality and Behavior Traits
You’ll want to learn the personality traits of your candidates to find out if they’ll mesh well with your team.
Some personality-related questions you could ask include:
- What do you like about working with a sales team?
- What kind of company culture is important to you?
- How would you handle a team conflict?
- What do you like doing for fun?
Questions That Reveal Selling Skills and Natural Talent
Of course, you’ll want to know what kind of skills and talents your candidates bring to the table.
Some interview questions to help you dive deeper might include:
- How would you handle a difficult client?
- How do you overcome common objections during a pitch?
- What are some creative strategies you’ve used in your sales career?
Questions Specific to Your Sales Environment – B2B, Remote, in Office?
Ensure that your candidate will be a good fit for your sales environment. The following are some questions that can help you learn about their workplace expectations.
- Where do you prefer to work (in office, remote, or a mix)?
- Are you comfortable selling in this industry?
- How do you overcome the challenges of working (remote or in office)?
- Is your sales experience primarily B2B or B2C? What are your thoughts on this distinction?
Streamline Hiring, Onboarding, and Training with the Flockjay Platform
If you want to optimize your hiring, onboarding, and training processes, Flockjay can help. Flockjay’s elevation platform will help you find the best practices in your hiring and onboarding process and iterate on them with data-driven insights. Your sales team can always improve, and Flockjay can help you do it. Book a demo with Flockjay to learn more!