Traps and Tips for finding great sales reps

Proficient Sales Teams don’t just happen! Finding good sales reps for your team can be one of the most difficult positions to staff. Not just anyone will do. After all the sales team is the “Face of Your Company”.


You could place ads announcing your search and then screen through the massive pile of resumes that will appear. Not to mention the number of headhunters that will call. This is a shotgun approach and very time consuming generally not producing positive results.

You could ask customers if they know someone to recommend. This can lead to a very slippery slope for your customer relationship. What if you don’t hire their recommendation? What if you do and it doesn’t work out?

You could use a recruiter. In building my successful sales teams I’ve not utilized recruiters. Most that called me had no clue about my business or philosophy. They had not done their homework. I also managed to find good candidates from other sources that I will list under Tips.


Hidden Gems inside your company – It is surprising how often I’ve found Hidden gems inside the company looking for an opportunity. There may be talent sitting in a cube at your company now that everyone overlooks. On several occasions, I have found excellent, ambitious, loyal, talented individuals within the company waiting for an opportunity and a coach. The advantages are numerous for grooming someone from within. They already know the company, the product, and the people. The learning curve is much shorter for these candidates.

I have been fortunate to find such people in the companies I joined. A young application engineer was developed into a global sales manager. Sales admins and customer service reps were groomed for account manager sales roles. All were trainable, coachable and very dedicated. I’m not saying that everyone in those roles can succeed, or want to make the change, but I am saying to look around and acknowledge potential that may be under your nose.

Veterans – In this case, when I refer to a “Veteran” I’m suggesting experts in the industry with solid reputations and experience. These are team members that can help you lead, train, and coach. They can become a very loyal employee and tend not to have travel or family challenges.

Take note of how successful sports teams have veterans assimilated with new raw talent. Adding some veterans to your sales team is a great way to develop the younger talent and provide guidance for those situations unseen previously by the new talent.

Are the Veterans available and affordable? Again, I suggest that you think out of the box. Often these industry experts are left by the wayside during acquisitions. I know several Veterans that may dislike their current company and policies but will not attempt to change because of age. Unfortunately, the “AGE” factor comes into play. Of course, these companies cannot say this but it is a fact. Don’t kid yourself, it happens every day because of Age, Gender, Race and other discriminations.

Competition – This one is tricky. I have recruited from my completers on many occasions. The question is, why would a good rep with my competitor change? Simply put a good rep understands the importance of customer trust. If the current company does not or cannot meet what has been promised it reflects on the rep as well as the company. The rep knows their livelihood depends on that reputation and may be looking for a better situation. It is also surprising how often a top producer is not valued but looked at by management as an overpaid primadonna thus treated that way.

I made it a point to meet and speak with competitors at trade shows and other business functions. No collusion just friendly conversation to know them as people. I always wanted to know the people in the industry. Networking is gold. Nothing proprietary was ever discussed but I acknowledged them as industry professionals and treated them with respect. I would listen when a customers talked about sales reps from the competition. When I had a need in the department I knew who to consider and who not.

Outsource leadership – If you are running the business and trying to manage sales too, there is a problem! You need someone else to manage the sales department while you run the day to day of the business. You need someone that has the experience and skills to manage and motivate.

Outsourcing a VP or Director of Sales with a proven track record can immediately provide leadership, strategy, processes, and direction for your team. An outsourced leader can be on an interim contract (1099) basis with a specific scope to match your company’s immediate needs. This is a cost-effective way to get the experienced leadership you need to oversee the critical functions of your sales team.

In summary, finding a salesperson is easy but finding those with the right stuff and potential is extremely difficult. It can be very costly when done inadequately. What is the cost of putting the wrong person in front of a good prospect or customers? Search for talent within, look for some seasoned veterans, know your competition and outsource the leadership temporarily to put your team on a positive path.

As a proven sales leader and motivator I can help your company with these and many other challenges. Call for a free consultation. (208) 957-7060