Hiring Sales Reps During a Pandemic

BY Kathy Crosett
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If you’re fortunate enough to be hiring sales reps in this economic climate, you can’t afford to make a hiring mistake. Do you know how to find good sales reps when you have a slew to choose from? Some managers will answer that question by saying, “I’ll know it when I see it.” That approach might work for some sales managers some of the time. You can improve the quality of your hiring outcomes by pinpointing the kind of sales rep you need in your organization and by using a sales skills assessment.

Hiring Sales Reps

Avoiding Toxicity

Of course, you always want to be hiring sales reps who can meet or exceed quota. But don’t limit yourself to that single aspect of performance. We all know about sales stars who can plow through an organization like a human wrecking ball. During the interview process, these kinds of toxic individuals often hide their true nature. They put out their rep for hire sign and impress you with their performance. Before you know it, your toxic new hire will be demoralizing and demotivating the rest of your sales staff. You can avoid this fate. A sales skills assessment will reveal if your dream candidate is actually a Jungle Fighter or an Exploiter.

While only a small number of toxic individuals may end up working in your organization, the chances are far greater that you’ll hiring sales reps who are not a good fit and don't live up to your expectations. This often happens because you’ve focused on finding an individual with a specific set of characteristics.

The Right Stuff

Sales managers look for reps who have confidence (66%) and problem-​solving abilities (68%). While those characteristics are important, Heather Morgan recounts her vast hiring experience in an Inc. column and emphasizes the importance of creativity and determination (resilience) in the current economic climate.

It has always taken a unique perspective to understand how the solution your reps are selling can be positioned to meet a prospect’s needs. These days, prospects may be adjusting their business models. Reps must be able to quickly respond to the changes creatively. So, how do you find good sales reps? You must look beyond their rep for hire boasting. Make sure the candidates you're considering possess creativity.

A rep’s resilience or determination also matters. Managers look for confidence because they want to count on a rep being willing to take the first step in the sales process and believing in their ability to succeed. In our COVID-​19 business environment, reps are going to be shut out again and again. Businesses have slowed down their decision-​making processes. They’ve postponed making investments that looked promising only a few months ago. The resilient rep understands these challenges on an emotional and intellectual level. They won’t be flattened after hearing yet another rejection. They’ll be willing to keep trying until they succeed.

Where to Hire Sales Reps

You might think that the candidate who was just downsized from their previous company will be your next rainmaker. After all, they come highly recommended and the skills on their resume are a perfect match for your open position. In your quest on where to hire sales reps, you might also reward existing employees who encourage people in their network to apply. These sources may all generate potentially great candidates, but before you bring them in for an interview, ask the applicants to take sales skills and psychometric assessment tests. 

How do you making sure you're hiring sales reps that are a good fit? The unbiased assessment results will mean more than a recommendation from a friend who’s trying to do someone a favor and the resume that could have been written by a professional. Take time to understand who is really applying for your open position and you'll ultimately be happy with your new sales hire.