Are great salespeople impossible to find?

You have three hiring choices as a manager...

Every sales manager wants to recruit a Unicorn! At least that is what we hear from them. A “must have” list that if all boxes were ticked, would be the equivalent of a fifth member of the Fantastic Four or The Beatles (delete depending on your age); and if this Unicorn did exist, they cannot afford them!

In Ken Blanchard’s words you have three hiring choices as a manager:

  1. Hire winners, who are hard to find and cost a fortune.
  2. Hire potential winners and develop them to become a winner.
  3. Hire the “power of prayer” and hope a person works out.


Hire Winners!

The salesperson “winners” that come with their metaphorical little black book of contacts; all who you would love to have as your customers. Of course, those customers will follow that sales winner wherever they go. But realistically, how often does this happen – rarely!

But what if they have the skills and credibility, with a sparkling CV and glowing reference from the recruiter? Check it all out. Validate it with your network and in your interview questions, separate their actions from their sales environment.

Salespeople succeed because of their skill, behaviour, habits, and attitude. However, they also operate in a sales eco system which effects their performance (positively or negatively). The brand they sell, their managers, their support team, the processes, and policies etc.

Remove a great person from their sales eco system and put them into yours – will they still be great??


Hire Potential

This costs you less upfront in salary and recruitment expenses and is more of a long-term option. The outcome of this potential winner will be based primarily on their effort. HOWEVER, it will also be massively influenced by the onboarding, induction, and training path they experience; along with the sales eco system they are entering!

What can you do as a sales leader and business to set up your sales eco system to help new recruits succeed?

Do not rely on the fact that you succeeded in the role 5 years ago and therefore, everyone else can. The world has moved on and so have expectations and needs of employees.

Review EVERY part of your employee journey in the sales function and change it to make success almost inevitable.


Hire the “Power of Prayer”

Hard to bring empirical data into how successful this will be, but I would not rely on prayer alone. Recruiting, retaining, developing great salespeople is never an exact science. Strive to be as consistently brilliant in recruitment as you can, with the same attitude you bring to try and smash every sales call.


Final thoughts

Hope is not a strategy in sales, so here are some interview tips if you are recruiting that new team member:

  • Use more than one outlet for recruiting: expand your reach
  • Introduce an incentive for current employees who bring new talent into the business
  • Understand your recruiting ROI: how much does it cost you in time and money? It can be an eye watering figure and that will hone your focus
  • Ask questions you have put thought into, in an engaging manner and be open minded. You want to see the best in the candidate so bring your best to the interview process
  • The interview is the first part of the induction for one of your candidates; demonstrate your leadership authentically so they know what to expect from you if they are successful


Recruiting well is the most important aspect to make your company grow and hit future sales milestones. Having the best of the best working for you will increase your revenue. It does not matter how great your product is, if you do not have the best people to go out and sell it for you.


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