Recruiting successful commercial representatives in 4 steps

The success of your business is closely linked to the performance of your commercial representatives.

Beyond simply recruiting a sales force, you must establish a process to facilitate the identification of the candidates who will succeed in your company.

This selection strategy must be clearly defined with indicators that allow you to make better decisions.

The 4 steps to create an efficient process


# 1- Open your recruitment scope


For starters, do not hesitate to open your recruitment scope to profiles different than those familiar to you.

Studies conducted in recent years clearly show that the experience of a candidate is far from being a success guarantee for your recruitment.


From one company to another, many factors may be subject to change.

It is not because you are hire someone with 10, 5 or even 3 years of experience in your industry that this person will be drastically more efficient than someone else.

When a person moves to a new firm, everything changes for: the corporate culture, human status, management, colleagues, product, strategy. This new environment will obviously have a major impact on the candidate’s performance.

Therefore, it is MUCH better to focus not only on the experience the candidate has gained but also, and especially, on his ability to adapt to YOUR environment.

For some of you this may be a bet. For my part, I’m not a gambler, I like to base my decisions on facts.

What has more impactful in the performance of salespeople today are personal pre-dispositions. Specifically their skills, personality and motivations. If you want to identify your future “Top Performers”, you must focus on these characteristics.


# 2 – Define the key factors for success in the job


Beyond simply creating job descriptions about what should be a good commercial representative would be, you must investigate the factors that actually will actually define future performance.


To equip yourself with the right tools to recruit the best, ask yourself the right questions about the success of commercial representatives’ success in your company.

Conduct a survey among sales managers and commercial representatives themselves.

You must not conduct surveys from your desktop, but in the field.

It is VERY important to understand what the sales representative job consists of in your company in order to select the best candidates.

To achieve this, you must ask the Sales Department or Sales Manager the right questions.

Avoid asking questions like:

“What do you expect from your commercial representatives? »

“What are for your the required qualities for the job? »

With these questions you do not make them think about what it really takes him. You will simply get answers like: “I need someone efficient, alert, with good negotiation skills, a person seeking to excel…”. In short, general points!


You should make him think further. Ask questions like:

“Who is for you the best member in your team? Why? What does he do more or differently compared to others? »

“What is for you the most difficult thing to master in your current job? »

“Is there really someone experiencing difficulties in your team? Why? What do they do differently compared to others? »

With these questions you focus your manager on more specific factors.

Once you have done this interview with the Sales Manager, you can do this with a member of the team.

This way you will also understand the operational environment in which the Commercial Representative works.

By detecting the key success factors of the job, you identify the best candidates more easily and quickly.


# 3 – Stop only conducting interviews


The interview is important. It is in fact, according to most of you, the most reliable tool when it comes to selecting commercial representatives (according to a study from AssessFirst carried out on 459 participants).

Yet there are many biases or effects to be considered during the interview, for exemple:

1 – Halo effect,

2 – Primacy bias,

3 – Dunning-Kruger effect,

4 – Recency bias,

5 – Self Bias confirmation

6 – Attribution bias,

7 – Self-fulfilling beliefs,

8 – Contrast effect,

9 – Screen,

To avoid the influence of these biases during your interviews and maintain maximum objectivity, the first step is to be aware of it so you can acknowledge their existence and their potential impact.

Another solution is to conduct structured interviews, with an evaluation grid and questions dealing with the key success factors of the job.

I do not say that feeling or instinct should no longer have their place, but the interview is an important moment for the candidate and the company.

To be more objective during interviews, it is important to use solutions that will help you assess your candidates’ skills, motivations and behaviours at work, especially since the behavioural skills of your candidates – for sales jobs – are among the most related professional success factors.

These tools are not luxury, they are just essential.


# 4 – Rely on training and integration


We only have one opportunity to make a good first impression. If this is TRUE for the candidate, it is also true for the company.

Overall, companies often relax after signing the employment contract. The integration and training process after starting work are often unclear or even nonexistent.

Yet, it is so expensive to successfully recruit, between the ads you have to post, the firms we call, time spent sorting resumes, meeting candidates etc. It is a pity to give up on your effort at this moment.

To formalize an integration and training strategy, you must have two objectives in mind:

  • Confirm the new employee in his choice
  • Validate its integration into the new corporate culture

The results will be felt quickly:

  • Increased retention of new employees
  • Increased productivity

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