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How to Source Effective Salespeople

It's time to bring on another salesperson for your company and you can’t afford to ramp them up only to see them leave. You recognize even a qualified sales hire will need ample ramp-up time but what you want to avoid is a misfire that does not reveal itself for 6-12 months - after a sizable investment training them.

I find these risks commonly result in my small to mid-sized business clients feeling a sense of hesitancy in taking action on sales hiring, some admittedly dread it!

While a quick hire based on industry experience is tempting to act upon, we developed this article to outline how staying true to a proven process is the difference maker in securing long-term performers on your team.

By focusing your energy on creating an intentional sales hiring plan, you will be ready to generate a qualified candidate pool that will pay off in the long run.

If you have not invested time creating your hiring strategy, you may find an article I published helpful called, “Unlock the Rewards of an Intentional Sales Hiring Plan”. It outlines how you can reduce costs associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training by investing effort into a strategic hiring plan before you begin taking action.

In this article I dig another layer deeper to provide key insights on generating qualified sales candidates to enter your interview process. You’ll learn about:

  • Why salespeople need to be sourced and screened differently than other candidates

  • Proven methods to develop your sales candidate pool

  • How to protect your return on investment when involving a recruiter

Sourcing Sales Candidates Requires Specialized Recruiting Skills

Sourcing sales candidates requires a special set of skills that experienced human resource representatives and traditional recruiters are commonly missing.

The high-performing sellers you’ll want to attract are experts at evaluating what a good opportunity looks like.

Top performers are repeatedly approached with opportunities and they scrutinize to determine what justifies their attention. After all, their success is largely due to their time management effectiveness.

For this reason, your company needs to interact similar to that of a salesperson to convince top performers why it’s in their best interest to invest time to review your company and opportunity.

The way top sales performers are approached and what they glean after researching your company will prompt them to quickly form a decision on whether they’ll engage with you, no matter how tantalizing you may feel your opportunity is.

Once you capture a sales prospect’s attention, the recruiter needs to be effective at creating open rapport with the candidate. A highly skilled salesperson knows how to present themselves in the best light possible and will effortlessly attempt to convince you they are exactly what you’ve been looking for. By their nature, the most capable salespeople are highly confident in their ability but often overly optimistic.

That’s why it’s essential that you have a resource who is equipped to break through the “too good to be true” sales façade so an objective qualification interview can be conducted.

The sales candidate may be a top performer, but the art of effective sales recruiting is knowing how to screen for alignment between their previous successes and what your position and sales environment requires for success.

When there is an undetected mismatch, a top performer can quickly become a non-performer – an outcome that neither you nor the candidate are looking for.

When you have the right set of skills and tools in place for sourcing and screening sales candidates, you can weigh their credentials, background, and track record against your impression of them. This is done through masterfully engaging them throughout the courting and interview process, effectively gleaning from their resume and references, and conducting a diligent interview process.

Effective screening occurs when a sales savvy recruiter follows an unbiased methodology to evaluate candidates in a systematic manner.

The stakes are high in sales hiring, so it is important to protect your return on investment and avoid costly misfires.

Developing a Robust Sales Candidate Pool

Developing a robust sales candidate pool is essential for finding the right salesperson for your team.

A key element of your Hiring Plan is the creation of your Ideal Candidate Profile and sourcing strategy. Next comes the tactics you’ll utilize to promote your opportunity to the “right” candidates.

Different than traditional roles you advertise, seldom do top sales performers enter the candidate pool by responding to job board postings.

That isn’t to say you’ll never capture a worthy candidate this way but most are solicited directly or referred because they are not monitoring job boards.

Here is a starting list to begin your sourcing strategy by casting a broad net:

  • Personal Network

  • Business Partner Networking

  • Soliciting targeted candidates aligned with Ideal Candidate Profile

  • Networking Events

  • Employee Referral Programs

  • Company Website Position Posting

  • Industry specific or high traffic job boards

When Sales Recruiter Involvement Makes Sense

When it comes to sales recruitment, there are certain situations when hiring a professional recruiter can be beneficial. It’s important to note that I have no bias in this area as I’m not a sales recruiter.

As a Fractional Sales Leader, my interest is to help my clients navigate sales and sales leadership hiring in a manner that positions them to reach their short-term and long-term sales goals in the most productive manner possible. That said, over the past handful of years, my Fractional VP Sales colleagues and I have placed over 500 sales candidates across the country in our client settings by leveraging sales specialized recruiter relationships we’ve developed.

Case in point, there are plenty of situations when it makes sense to get help. The key is properly navigating recruiter selection and engagement to protect your return on investment.

The most common justification for bringing in an outside recruiter is when you have a tight staffing timeline or require a very specialized sales role that limits the candidate pool.

Even if your company has an on-staff HR professional, it’s important to evaluate if they have adequate time and background to attract a wide breadth of candidates.

The goal is that through effective sourcing and screening, a series of qualified candidates are presented to the hiring manager who leads the finalists through the remainder of the interview process.

When it does make sense to bring in a professional recruiter, I advise clients to use the following criteria to evaluate who they bring in.

  • Specialized in sales recruitment

  • Offers a retained search model with no incentive to coach or force-fit candidates

  • Dedicated talent manager that is assigned to “own” the search

  • Provides collaborative communication throughout the search process

  • Capable of sourcing a sizable candidate pool that aligns with defined Ideal Candidate Profile

  • Exceptional screening and qualification process to ensure 3 highly qualified finalists

  • Includes hiring guarantee

  • Includes replacement guarantee

It is hard to find sales specialized recruiters, especially those that have the scope of winning characteristics I described above. Contact me if you’d like a referral to my source that has proven to deliver top-tier sales and sales leadership candidates.

Hiring a new salesperson comes with risks but it’s a necessary step to fuel the growth your company needs. As a Fractional Sales Leader, I take the lead in guiding my clients through the process of orchestrating internal and external resources to secure top sales talent. I also help set-up their new hires for long-term success.

If you’d like to discuss your sales staff expansion plans, contact me through any of these methods: or fill out our Contact Us form.

Sales Hiring is just one of the high impact skills we need to embody to be effective sales leaders. I welcome you to take my Sales Leadership Assessment at no charge to gain visibility into how your skills rank in 10 key areas.


We are part of a national group of Senior Sales Leaders who collaborate to share insights like the examples shown in this article. We formed because of our shared passion to help business leaders exponentially grow their revenue.


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