Business man and woman put puzzle pieces together.

How to Hire the Right Sales People for Long-Term Success

Jared Smith

We all know the old adage: Nothing happens until something is sold.

Maybe it sounds cliché, but it is very true. You may have the best widget in the world, but if you can’t sell it, nothing happens. And, while there are many intangibles that influence a product being sold, the most tangible influence is talent. Period.

Certainly, there is no silver bullet to hiring the right talent. It is rarely straightforward as there are many factors a hiring manager should consider in order to make sure that the sales candidate in question is the right fit for your organization and your style. You must establish your own guidelines and be steadfast in the interview process to ensure the long-term success on which you are betting.

Building bridges

One of the most innate talents of a true salesperson is the ability to build bridges quickly. This skill is crucial in catching a prospect’s attention and establishing a rapport of trust to facilitate real conversation.

In the interview process, you should be able to tell the comfort level of the candidate with high-pressure situations and their approach to dealing with that reality. If a candidate really wants a job and sees it as a true goal, they will put forth every effort to make the right impression. Body language matters, word choice matters, and their ability to make you feel comfortable is crucial.


This is a common approach for the interview process because it makes great sense. A plan is crucial. A plan begets execution. A plan can be measured. A plan leads to success.

The candidate should be able to articulate very clearly how they expect to make an impact at each one of the dated gates. The time frame of 30/60/90 days might sound somewhat arbitrary for your business, but it does give a logical perspective as to what you can expect from the new salesperson during their career with your organization.

As the manager, it is also effective to articulate what your expectations are during their first 90 days. This should be an opportunity for them to digest your expectations and match them with theirs. The concept is not much different than providing information in a RFP so the bidding company can match up to the prospect’s expectations.

Case Studies

It is expected that a sales candidate can easily describe success stories, as well as the challenges they faced in a tough loss. The stories become the case studies that build the real-life experience on which professional sales people draw to push them forward.

Case studies provide a tangible and applicable example of how the candidate has been able to make rain when there are no thunderclouds. The candidate should be proud enough of their achievements to allow you to have direct conversations with the main stakeholder − usually their boss at the time − to get their perspective as well. It is no different than the concept of references, but takes it a step further by providing real context around the performance of the candidate.

Every candidate should be able to transparently explain how they have developed their network and how they plan to extend their network in your business.

The candidate’s social networks, like their connections on LinkedIn, should be made up of real connections. And they should be able to prove how they can mine those relationships. The real key to success is being able to call on their network and leverage their connections to build an immediate pipeline, which plays into the 30/60/90 plan discussed above.

A truly special sales person will also be able to explain how they would leverage your value propositions and, even more importantly, your company’s connections to drive their pipeline development. That means they would have researched leaders in your company and how they have positioned themselves to build their market presence.
In the end, your judgment as a hiring manager is personal. You know what you are looking for and you know innately the qualities of a candidate that match your style and approach to sales. Utilize the guidelines in which you believe and do not stray from that center. Your instincts, governed by your established guidelines, are paramount to everyone’s success. And, success is not measured in hiring a stellar candidate, but in how they perform over time.

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