Building a power sales team — tips for recruiting high-performing reps

Building a power sales team — tips for recruiting high-performing reps
Vlastimil Vodička
August 27, 2021

‍In an ideal world, your sales department would only be staffed by high-performing reps, who were great cultural fits, proactive and ambitious. 

Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. But you can aim for getting pretty close to recruiting perfect sales candidates if you tailor your hiring strategies to zero in on those most likely to succeed and excel in their positions. 

“Your sales reps form the backbone of your company’s revenue stream, so you want to make sure you have the best-of-the-best on the job, and this starts with having solid recruitment metrics in place,” said Vlastimil Vodicka, CEO of Leadspicker. “You want to close more deals, increase revenue and see your company grow. High-performing sales reps can help you get there fast. These are the people you want on your team.”     

Statistically speaking, however, it’s estimated that just about 25% of sales reps are high performers. Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric once named “manager of the century,” developed a matrix that has become the benchmark for recruiters looking to hire the best people. Candidates are categorized by their skill-set and attitude. Welch’s framework is a good place to start when coming up with a game plan for poaching top-performing sales reps.

Jack Welch's Approach to Leadership

Welch knows a thing or two about how to successfully increase revenue. During his 20-year tenure at GE, he grew the company’s net worth from $14 billion to $410 billion. It really does boil down to who’s on your team. Welch identifies four specific types of job candidates:

  • Capable & Willing. These are the candidates who tick all the right boxes: they have proven track records and are great cultural fits. You want them on your team. They share your company’s core values, can deliver results and are willing to work with you.  
  • Incapable & Willing. These candidates don’t yet have the experience or skill-set to deliver results but would be good cultural fits; they share the company’s vision and morals. If you have the capacity to train them, they might be worth the investment.     
  • Capable & Unwilling. These candidates can deliver results, but they aren’t great cultural fits. They don’t share your company’s vision and goals and could end up hurting morale. You need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of extending an offer.    
  • Incapable & Unwilling. These candidates are not the type of people you want at your company. They are incapable of delivering results and are not cultural fits. Throw their CVs in the trash bin.  

Top Qualities To Look For

Obviously, your goal is to hire as many Capable & Willing candidates as possible. It’s easy to spot top-performing sales reps if you know what to look for. We’ve put together a list of qualities to help you create a winning candidate profile:  

Cultural fit

This should be among the first things you assess about any sales candidate. Most recruiters consider this to be of equal importance to a candidate’s relevant work experience. If a candidate isn’t a good cultural fit, chances of them staying with the company long-term are slim. Question them on their values and what motivates them. 

Proactive

You want sales reps who will not just come to you with problems but also solutions. High-performers will be able to gauge a situation and find ways around challenges. They aren’t timid about offering their own viewpoints, even if it contradicts with yours. Challenge your candidate during the interview process to find out how they would respond to different scenarios. If they are able to point out cracks in your sales system and offer ways to improve, they’d be a great asset to your team.   

Quality over quantity

Will your candidate put in the time needed to adequately understand their prospects and their needs before reaching out to them? Do they possess the patience for doing the legwork required to build long-term relationships with potential customers? Do they understand that this sales approach helps increase customer lifetime value (CLV)? You want the answer to all these questions to be “yes.” 

Ambitious

A candidate lacking in professional experience should never be a dealbreaker. It’s important to remember every high-performing sales rep was once a rookie looking for their big break. What you need to assess is their potential and willingness to learn. Do they show passion for the job? Are they willing to challenge themselves and get out of their comfort zone? If yes, then onboarding those who are new to the field is a worthy investment. Training the next generation of top-performers is a strategic business move for any forward-thinking sales department.

Personality

From a cultural fit perspective, of course you want to hire friendly, outgoing and approachable sales reps. But you need to evaluate their personality traits from a business standpoint, too. High-performers usually possess similar defining characteristics. They are usually confident, competitive and persistent. Another good trait to have in this package is compassion — compassion for their colleagues, their managers, but above all else, their prospects.


Keep these traits in mind while hiring new team members and you not only will create a powerful & high-performing team, but also a great company culture which we all know is immensely important too.


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