7 indicators for hiring salespeople

Let me start with this first. Hiring is guessing, firing is knowing. Especially when hiring salespeople is the task, things are not that easy.

It’s all about the results, not the processes. Sales is about the results only and that is why as a profession is being avoided, that is why so view people are good at it and that is why also so many people do not understand who to hire.

Often people that have no idea or have obsessions on how the ideal salesperson looks like, are called to make the decisions to hire one, often as you understand with disastrous outcomes. That reminds me of trying to decide which camera I should buy for my vlog. The deeper I dive into the topic the more confused I get and the reason why is because I have no clue, which criteria are important, and which are not.

This article has the intent to give you some indicators on how to identify who is not a good fit for a sales role and help you in the process of hiring salespeople.

Hiring salespeople – The 7 indicators


1. There is a conflict with previous roles that he/she had.

Often some roles exclude other ones. Nothing, of course, is absolute, however, it is rare that you are going to find for example a CrossFit athlete that likes to play golf, or a passionate artist that at the same time is a good accountant. Most of the time, the characteristics that give joy in one interaction are at the same time the reasons not to follow up another one.

For me it is always a red flag if I listen to someone that comes for a sales position, pitching me on how good he was as a customer support agent. It is because the virtues of being a good customer support agent conflict with the virtues of being a good salesperson. A good customer support agent finds pleasure helping his clients, a good salesperson however finds pleasure in achieving his goals and knows how to handle emotions and pursue his task, even when time comes where the unavoidable conflict of interests takes place, he knows how to drive the conversation on his own benefit. A good salesperson is not a polite nice guy, he is a consistent professional.

2. He/she doesn’t know how to use the language properly

Many times I come across salespeople that do not know how to use the language properly. The most common mistake I encounter is that of the wrong use of the pronoun Mr or Mrs. To often on interviews, they call me Mr. Alex instead of Mr. Valassidis. That is a big red flag for me, however, let me tell you that it also depends on the market that he is going to engage. What is he going to sell and to whom? Complex software solutions to the CTO of a company or used cars to second-hand car dealers?

3. He/she is anxious and does not control the conversation

The one that speaks less is the one that controls the conversation. Does he/she have control of the conversation you are just having? He/she listens more than he/she is talking. Does he/she let you speak? These are characteristics of a good salesperson. If he does not have these qualities, how is he going to participate in a substantial conversation with key decision-makers?

4. He/she is not on time

Sales consist of 2 parts. The difficult one, which is the active selling and the use of soft skills and sales techniques and tactics, and the “easy one” is all the administrative work related to sales and the strict follow-up. BOTH are equally important. Salespeople emphasize on the first part more than the second part, for a good reason. Through my sales coaching experience, however, I often saw deals getting lost, because, after the active sale, no one cared to follow up properly.

Besides that, if someone is not on time for his/her meeting, he is actively disrespecting you and he is actively undermining your authority as a sales manager or managing director of your company or project.

It’s a very important detail.

5. He/she is too generic and does not ask specific questions.

Generalization is the mother of non-doingness. The more generic you are the more probable is that things are not going to happen. On the contrary, the more specific you are, the more laser-focused you are, the more probable it is to make things happen. A candidate that does not give precise answers and does not ask specific questions is not a good salesperson.

6. The interview goes both ways.

When you have an interview it’s not only about you hire a good salesperson, but it is also for him/her to evaluate if you are a good fit. Someone that does not ask questions to evaluate you as a potential employer, he/she would like to collaborate with, is not a good fit.

7. Listen to your intuition

Listen to your inner voice. It is often that you can not explain why, but you have the feeling that a specific person is going to do an excellent job. Listen to your heart and if you feel that way, even though all the above indicators might not be ideal, hire him/her. It is not going to take a long time until you find out if you made a good choice or not.

All those indicators give you an idea about your candidate when it comes to hiring salespeople. You have to keep in mind that sales is a job that requires a lot of different skills. It has been times where I was wrong on my evaluation of a potential candidate. He/she proved me wrong, that however was the exception and not the rule. Most of the times the above-mentioned indicators give you a quite clear picture on what to expect from someone.

Alex Valassidis