When To Take A Chance On A Sales Candidate


Recruiting sales talent involves taking a chance on candidates. Hiring managers frequently encounter inexperienced candidates, candidates with extensive experience in a sales role that is different from the one for which they are applying, and candidates who seem overqualified for the position. Each of these groups of candidates can justifiably make an employer hesitant to hire.

So, when is it appropriate to take a chance on a candidate and when is it safer to pass?

Inexperienced Candidates:

A lack of industry experience should not preclude a candidate’s eligibility for a job in sales. Experience alone is a poor predictor of a candidate’s success in a sales role. The essential qualities of any good salesperson are personality and work habits. It is crucial to ensure that all candidates, regardless of industry experience, possess the essential soft skills necessary to succeed in sales. These vary somewhat from one sales role to the next, but generally include: assertiveness, self-motivation, patience, perseverance and sociability.

Sales personality tests — offered by such companies as Sales Test Online — have helped thousands of companies. Incorporating sales personality assessment into your screening process can allow your company to determine which inexperienced sales candidates have the potential to become talented salespeople.

A Candidate With Sales Experience, But New To The Role:

Say you’re interviewing a genuinely talented prospector with years of business development experience, while you’re looking to hire an account retention specialist. The candidate is eager to gain experience in a new position, so you decide to give them a chance.

But, as weeks pass, you see that your hire is still struggling to adjust to the role. They find it difficult to work with team members. They fail to acknowledge feedback. Their assertive communication style lacks the diplomacy and flexibility required to communicate with long-term clients. In short, the very things that made this candidate a great prospector and closer — independence, assertiveness, a dynamic communication style — are holding them back from succeeding in this new role.

This is not to suggest that a talented prospector is bound to fail in a client retention role (or vice versa), only that it is essential to assess a candidate’s various soft skills to ensure that they are able to make a successful transition from one sales role to another. To do this, a hiring manager assess the candidate’s key sales personality traits using the tools previously discussed here and follow up with an interview that focuses on asking the right questions before making the decision.

An overqualified candidate:

Conventional wisdom warns against hiring overqualified candidates, largely due to employers’ reservations about the level of commitment a candidate will give a job for which they are overqualified. But hiring an overqualified sales candidate has more than a few tempting advantages, not the least of which is the possibility that the candidate will “hit the ground running” and potentially become one of the top performers on your sales team. Therefore, before deciding to hire or pass on an overqualified candidate, it is important to discuss the candidate’s reasons for pursuing the offered position and carefully consider their attitude towards the job.

There will never be a sure bet when it comes to recruiting salespeople, but by considering some of the points mentioned here you can ensure that you’re making informed hiring decisions and elevating your chances of a good hire.