Selling is often described as a bit of a dark art. You’ll hear people throw around terms like “some people can just sell”, and ‘gun’ salespeople do have a certain mystique to them.

While there’s plenty of debate on what makes a good salesperson (we can debate that in another post at another time!), one thing I have noticed that is often raised with me is the that companies struggle to hire the ‘right’ sales people. For me that’s a very different conversation than good vs. bad.

The right salesperson is simply one that works for you and your business. Sounds simplistic and at face level it is, but there is an art to finding the right person to fit the right role. So here are my top three reasons why you might be hiring the wrong sales people…and my tips to avoid it!

Don’t go off the CV alone

First off, we all know the starting point in the hiring process is selecting the right candidates and it’s here where I often see businesses start off on the wrong foot.

For a sales role, the CV is only one input. The challenge for hiring managers is that they often have preconceived ideas of what they want and if the CV doesn’t fit those preconceptions, it’s out. This is why I believe the issue businesses face is not lacking enough good candidates, it’s more that they bin good ones without ever meeting them!

For example, don’t just look at experience and time in your industry. Experience doesn’t always equal skill and success. Nor does miles on the clock in a certain industry. Sometimes looking outside the square at someone from a related industry, or even someone completely left field will actually be a good option. They’ll be fresh, have no preconceived ideas about the industry and its dynamics, and will be more willing to prove themselves.

Really understand the type of salesperson you’re after

Which brings me to my second point. Point one often happens because a business is looking for a ‘gun’ salesperson and is under pressure to find them. What they haven’t done is really work out what type of salesperson fits their clients and their business.

What type of person suits your business? For example, we know the sales profession is heavily based on relationships, but do you need some one who is a relationship builder alone? Or is the role more suited to an aggressive challenger style of sales rep? Selling to an IT person requires a different skills set than selling to say a HR role, as an example.

You really need to understand what suits your business first. It can be a tough question to answer and it’s why having an expert help you to make those calls can be really beneficial.

Arm them with knowledge early

Once into the recruitment process, my number one tip is don’t just expect them to understand your business. Sure, brushing up on their knowledge of your organisation is a core interview skill in any occupation, but sometimes a little background on your business and the type of person/skill set you want can help qualify candidates in or out. It also helps them give you a better understanding of whether they can work with you or not.

So don’t be afraid to share info upfront. Just letting them come into the interview cold isn’t always the best approach. Changing your thinking can also help you improve the hiring process.

What are your thoughts? I’m keen to hear what you think. DM me here or email me at