Recruiting and Selecting Salespeople

Recruiting and Selecting Salespeople

Salespeople who have the best characteristics, and who fit the company ethos, should be chosen during the recruitment process.


Examine the rationale and process of recruiting and selecting salespeople


Key Points

  • Recruitment can be costly and time consuming. The process must be designed to minimize cost while ensuring a wide pool or suitable candidates are considered.
  • Candidates can be chosen internally or externally. Internal recruitment uses less resources and provides for growth within the company. External recruitment involves higher costs, but ensures diversity and fresh thinking.
  • A variety of methods can be used to select the ideal candidate, including interviews, various forms, biographical information, and standardized tests.

Key Terms

  • recruitment: The process or art of finding candidates for a post in an organization.

A great deal of recent research has underscored the strategic advantage of managing employees as if they are assets rather than commodities. Making investments in a business’s assets makes a great deal of sense, because these investments will bring a return. A growing number of companies, recognizing that their employees are among their most valuable assets, are backing up that recognition with solid investment.

Recruitment of the Sales Force

Recruitment of talented employees is an essential part of any company’s ability to maintain success and ensure the achievement of standards within an organization. Recruiting sales personnel is no different. Recruiting sales personnel consists of actively compiling a diverse pool of potential candidates which can be considered for employment. In different industries, the constant need for talent creates a highly competitive marketplace for individuals, and it is important for any manager to be aware of these factors as they develop recruitment programs and policies.

Methods of Recruitment: Internal and External

There are two principal ways to recruit workers: internally and externally. Most companies will actively use both methods, ensuring opportunities for existing employees to move up in the organization while at the same time fielding new talent. Internal recruitment is often the most cost effective method of recruiting potential employees, as it uses the existing company resources and talent pool to fill needs.

External recruitment focuses resources on looking outside the organization for potential candidates and expanding the available talent pool. The primary goal of external recruitment is to create diversity among potential candidates by attempting to reach a wider range of individuals unavailable through internal recruitment. Although external recruitment methods can be costly to managers in terms of dollars, the addition of a new perspective within the organization can carry many benefits which outweigh the monetary costs.

Selecting Quality Candidates

After obtaining a large, qualified applicant base, managers need to identify those applicants with the highest potential for success. Selective hiring helps prevent the costly turnover of staff and increases the likeliness of high employee morale and productivity.

To evaluate the fit, it is important for managers to create a list of relevant criteria for each position before beginning the recruitment and selection process. Each job description should be associated with a list of critical skills, behaviors, or attitudes that will make or break job performance. When screening potential employees, managers need to select based on cultural fit and attitude as well as technical skills and competencies. There are some companies, such as Southwest Airlines, based out of the United States, who hire primarily based on attitude because they espouse the philosophy that you hire for attitude, train for skill. According to former CEO Herb Kelleher, “We can change skill levels through training. We can’t change attitude. ” Attitude and personality is especially important for sales positions, as they are often a customer’s first and only point of contact with the company.

Managers must strive to identify the best applicants at the lowest cost. Companies have a variety of processes available to screen potential employees, so managers must determine which system will generate the most accurate results. The methods of selection vary both in levels of effectiveness and in cost of application. In addition to biographical information, companies can conduct personal interviews, perform background checks, and request testing. Because of the costs associated with these measures, companies try to narrow down the number of applicants in each round of hiring.



One-on-One Interview: All jobs will require some sort of interview process to determine if the candidate is suitable for the role. This may be over the phone, one-on-one (above), or part of a group. Interviews determine if the candidates have the characteristics necessary for the job.

The best interviews follow a structured framework in which each applicant is asked the same questions and is scored with a consistent rating process. Having a common set of information about the applicants upon which to compare after all the interviews have been conducted allows hiring managers to avoid prejudices and all interviewees are ensured a fair chance. Many companies choose to use several rounds of screening with different interviewers to discover additional facets of the applicant’s attitude or skill as well as develop a more well-rounded opinion of the applicant from diverse perspectives.

Ultimately, the company will hire those who have the necessary skills and qualifications, and best fit the company culture and ethos. Salespeople have a specific set of personality attributes: they should be good listeners and have a keen desire to help people. They need to be trustworthy and honest, yet still be able to quickly perceive what the customer truly wants. They also need to be persistent. Employers will look for these attributes, among others, when hiring salespeople.