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So, your business is growing, you’ve identified the growth objectives you want to achieve over the next few years, and you know that you can’t physically do everything required to achieve those objectives. Now it’s time for you to hire someone else to handle some or all of the sales activity.

How and where do you find a good salesperson? What characteristics and skills should you look for? After all, as a small-business owner or start-up, you can’t afford to risk your hard earned reputation by hiring the wrong person.

Define the role

Start by defining what you want them to generate in terms of the revenue you need, then break this down into months. Make sure that this is realistic…. Take into account how long it typically takes to close a sale and you know your average sales value. Also think about the type of sales activities they need to be doing each week.

Describe the person

The next step is to think of the characteristics and skills you want the new person to bring to the role.
Where will they work? In the office? From home? Will they be mainly “on the road”.
How much sales experience should they have? What will their working hours be? What sort of character would fit best with the culture of your business and your customers? How much time can you afford to spend with them getting them started and helping them get their first sales? Do you want them to have existing knowledge of your product or service? Should they have sold similar products before? Should they have sold different products but to the same sort of customers you serve?

Create a Job Description

Pull of this information into a single document that describes what the new person is expected to achieve and when, what they’ll be doing on a day to day basis and what experience and skills they need.
Include information about what they’ll be paid, any bonus or commission they can earn, any probationary period that will apply, the notice period, what pension arrangements you provide (as an employer you have to provide a workplace pension scheme) and any other benefits you might provide such as a mobile phone, laptop computer, holidays, healthcare, gym membership etc.

Looking for Candidates

Start paying attention to the good salespeople you encounter when you’re the buyer. What is it they’re doing that makes you feel good about working with them? Learning to recognise good salespeople is the most important first step.

Ask for word-of-mouth recommendations, from suppliers, customers, and friends.

Consider placing an advertisement on relevant job boards or LinkedIn…. but be very clear about the person you’re seeking. Include phrases such as “self starter” or “highly motivated.”

If you’re really strapped for time, then using a recruitment agency may actually be your best option. As with any type of business, there are good ones, there are bad ones….. and there are some really awful ones! When you find a good one, stick with them.

Once you’ve seen a few CV’s, select the ones you think look like the best options to give you a shortlist of candidates you can interview. Don’t be afraid to reject candidates you don’t think are a good fit.

Preparing for interviews

Take time to carefully prepare for interviews. Think about the experience, skills and personal attributes that you’ve identified, and draw up a list of relevant questions that you can ask candidates that will help you understand how good a fit they might be.
Have a few questions prepared that get the candidate to talk about specific sales experiences they’ve had and how they’ve approached them.


Consider telephone interviews as a first step, they give you the opportunity to assess the candidates’ telephone manner, which may well be a key aspect of how the role.

If the telephone interview goes well, arrange a face-to-face interview.

Over the course of the interviews, ask every candidate the same set of prepared questions and make notes of the responses you get. During the conversation, other questions will arise, but if you have a standard set of questions, it’s easier to compare the candidates.

Appointing a candidate

Once you’ve found a candidate who you’re confident can do the job and achieve the results you need, you’ll need to make a formal offer of employment. Once the terms of employment are agreed, you’ll need to confirm everything in writing and get the candidate to accept the offer in writing.

Are you unsure how to recruit sales people? Maybe we can help

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