A step-by-step guide to recruiting a strong sales team

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Recruiting a great sales team can sometimes be easier said than done

The recruitment process can often be seen as something of a tiresome task, but finding the best candidates to fill dynamic sales roles should not be viewed as a chore. Instead, company leaders should grasp the opportunity to bring in the best people they can, as they look to drive their business towards success.

Why a great sales team is essential

Putting together a sales team capable of attracting big business partners and clients is essential if businesses wish to grow, but it is also important from a PR perspective, as these people will be the public face of a corporation and a company must ensure it is making the right impression at all times.

Alex Belford, manager for the northern sales division at recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, states: "The recruitment of the right sales professional is fundamental to the fortune of any business. Companies must be proactive and responsive throughout the process to ensure they are doing everything they can to secure the right talent."

This means starting with a killer advertisement that not only gives an indication of the level of experience and previous performance the company is looking for in candidates, but also gives insight into future expectations and the challenges they could face on a daily basis.

According to a poll of top job seekers carried out by Robert Walters, more than half (55 per cent) stated the job interview process and the way the role is described play an 'extremely important' part in shaping a candidate's perceptions of a prospective employer - something that can have a significant bearing on getting the right people through the door in the first place.

Know who/what you are looking for

The best place to start when putting together a recruitment strategy for top sales professionals is in developing an understanding of what makes a great salesperson so good at their job.

Attitude to work, their character, personality, motivations and core competencies are all important factors that come into play when determining the perfect sales professional, so it is essential businesses are able to determine each of these traits quickly when assessing candidates for a position.

As a result, interview questionnaires and assessments can help to shed light on these essentials.

Those who perform best in sales positions will often demonstrate strong scores for social drive, social confidence, goal orientation and need for control in personality testing. It therefore pays to focus on these areas when assessing candidates for their suitability.

Remember to ask the right questions

The interview is arguably one of the most important aspects of finding the right candidate to fill demanding sales roles, as employers will find out a whole lot more about a person during face-to-face assessments than they will either over the phone or through their CV.

It can be a difficult process to determine who will best perform in a position once offered a job, so recruiters should look to remove as much of the emotion from their decision-making as possible and instead focus on logic and the facts presented to them.

This can be achieved by utilising pre-prepared questions during the interview process and not deviating from the script or paraphrasing. In addition, allowing candidates to talk without adding qualifiers like "I know what you mean" or "that happened to me once", for example, will help to avoid situations where individuals are hired more for their personality than their experience or skills.

After all, sales is a performance-driven field and ultimately, it matters more about the bottom line and the value an individual can add to a business than how well they get on with the interviewer.

Don't rest on your laurels

Once an effective sales team is up and running, business leaders may be forgiven for thinking the hard part is out of the way and they can now take a breather.

This is not true though, as the fact of the matter is that getting a great team in place is just the start of the process, as ensuring you always have new candidates in the pipeline to challenge existing staff members to excel and to bring in fresh blood is also essential to long-term success.

As a result, companies must offer attractive remuneration and benefits to their sales teams if they want to keep hold of their best performers, while they should also be able to identify where the next batch of new talent will come from.

Finally, manager for the south-east sales division at Robert Walters Tom Warren explained: "To attract the best possible talent you need to engage with your candidates, ensuring they have a positive experience whether successful or not. It is important to remember that top-tier candidates mix with other top-tier talent."

For this reason, a good way to find the best new recruits can often be through word of mouth; so asking existing staff if they know of anyone whom they feel would be perfect for the role can be a decision that will often bearĀ fruit.