SALES FORCE RECRUITMENT – 6 steps to getting it right from the start


During the past 3 years I have acted as advisor and mentor to a total of 16 new sales directors and sales managers. During my work with them I came to the conclusion that their companies and their company management did not ensure a key capability – how to recruit the right salespeople.

Today it is more difficult than ever to know what type of sales person to look for. The scene and the conditions for personal B2B selling is facing a major shift of paradigm.

In some of the countries where we are active it is becoming more difficult and expensive to replace underperforming personnel. Especially if they have worked for some years in the company.

It becomes apparent when a Sales Manager encounters the challenge of replacing an underperforming salesperson and/or was given the opportunity to expand the size of the sales team. They are not trained to do this, most lack sufficient experience and also underestimate the challenge in recruiting the right sales rep. Most of the companies had very little, if any practical support to offer. In several cases it is an outsourced HR support service, with little or none expertise in finding the right salesperson for the future needs.

Some short advice:

  1. Make sure to log the route to success in your company! Learn from your success stories. Define standards (desired quantity and quality of activities and behavior) and key capabilities that has proven to build sales success over time. In many companies, there is very little, if any, historical, well documented path to success for new sales people. How can you then know what to look for?
  2. Define the profile of the candidate based on the strategy and future demands for the sales organization, rather than the existing profile of sales reps. Many organizations focus more on team selling, often sales reps need to know how to benefit from new technology and digital media in their sales job and dedicate more time to adding value by solving customer problems and less to promote the company and handle objections. What does this mean for the profile?
  3. Support sales management in a professional search process. Looking inside can be motivating for people in the organization, but it can also limit your speed of growth and change over time, particularly with the changing demands in B2B sales. Can you find the right profile for your future sales organization within your company?
  4. Advice sales managers to have a “working platform” for potential applicants. Just like you need to have suspects in line to ensure the volumes in your sales pipeline/process, you need a pipeline of candidates. How many potential candidates does you sales managers have?
  5. Train the sales managers how to run a selection process; from selection to assessment and decision. They need to know how to evaluate application letters and CVs; qualify applicants over phone; interview technique; basic self-understanding to avoid projecting during selection; interview technique; some basic assessment methods; reference taking. If your recruitment skills are not top class, what is the probability to recruit top sales reps?
  6. Ensure an introduction process that matches the demands of the sales role; as well as the profile of the person you have selected. (more on this later…). How long time does it take for you to get new sales reps to become productive and profitable?




Gerdt Larsson is a Senior Sales Executive Advisor with 3S.

He has more than 30 years of experience in developing international commercial organizations. He successfully led the expansion of international organizations in two Swedish companies in the new eastern European markets for over twenty years.

He loves to share his recipe for success in international expansion, relating them to the models and tools developed and applied by 3S in customer projects in the international export industry.