Expert's Opinion

Hiring Great Salespeople

By George Wright, WrightOne Consulting | March 20, 2012

George Wright explains what to look for and whom to avoid when you need to expand your staff.

Your organization may have the best products or services in the world, but your sales team still has the power to make or break the company.

It's tough, this business of hiring salespeople. Many managers, particularly entrepreneurs and small business owners, have an awful track record when it comes to hiring sales talent. When they hire the right sales professional, they see results and amazing things begin to happen.

However, when they hire a mediocre (or worse) salesperson, they provide paycheck after paycheck and begin to feel like they are running a corporate welfare program.

Why is it so hard to get great salespeople?

First, great salespeople don't leave jobs where they're making money. This point is pure human nature. If you're making $250,000 a year selling WidgetSoft Systems and beating your sales goals in the process, chances are that you're a hero at your company. Praise flows freely and you get the perks. You are probably quite happy. What you emphatically do NOT do is actively look for another job.

Second, great salespeople are always in demand. However, there are few of them. That means that for the manager looking to hire, the market for the most productive business development resource is always tight. Even in the midst of the current global economic slowdown, with millions of layoffs, top salespeople are virtually downsize-proof for obvious reasons.

Third, mediocre salespeople are "A-Players" when it comes to selling themselves. If only they sold products and services as well as they sold themselves in the interview, right? Most sales candidates are adept at talking about the act of selling - what to do, what to say, how to act, and the other common tools of the trade. But can they actually do any of it?

Moreover, some managers often assume that resumes contain the gospel truth when it comes to a candidate's background and experience. The only truth is that resumes are engineered to highlight strengths and accomplishments while omitting failures. Treat resumes like any other piece of marketing collateral. They serve to tell you the features and benefits, but come up short on the deficiencies.

Most managers also don't know how to interview effectively. Questions like "what's the last book you read?" or "what's your greatest weakness?" don't reveal anything useful, but make the interviewer feel like an interview has taken place. In addition, because "correct" answers to many typical interview questions are available all over the web, it would probably make sense just to print them out and hand them to the interviewer at the beginning of the interview. In the end, many interviews are inherently artificial situations. While an interview can help assess whether the candidate can sell themselves, it doesn't really tell a hiring manager much more than that.

There is a better way. We can help you hire better, especially when it comes to hiring salespeople.

We provide critical information you need to make better hiring decisions. Our assessment program is an independent evaluation of individual's strengths and capabilities. We describe how people see themselves and describe how they approach their work. Because we acknowledge people's complexity, our reports offer a complete and realistic picture of each candidate.

We describe how salespeople will perform on the job; the things that simply cannot be learned from a resume and casual interview.
Most important, we give you that insight at a critical time - before you hire. Nothing speaks louder than a demonstration of results. To request a sample sales assessment report and our Guide to Effective Sales Interviewing, call us at 973-419-0870 or email us at

About the Author
George Wright has over 25 years’ experience as a management consultant and he is the founder and principal of WrightOne Consulting.He specializes in psychological assessment analysis, organizational assessment as well as leadership and team development.
Wright is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with Bachelors in Psychology & Sociology.He holds a Masters in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology and Economics from Radford University.
In addition, George is an Adjunct Instructor in Industrial & Organizational Psychology, Social Psychology and Positive Psychology at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, NJ. He has lectured at the New Jersey Judicial College on Judicial Cognitive Bias.

More info: WrightOne Consulting, LLC, West Orange, NJ. Tel: 973-419-0870; Website:

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