The Sales Hiring Checklist: Find and Keep Talent

11 August 2016

We regularly see these commonly known hiring mistakes when businesses struggle to hire and keep super sales talent.


Gut plays a huge role in hiring decisions. It’s human nature. Intuition does help to read environmental cues, but we recommend creating a rational cheat sheet in advance to steady impulse.

If you’re a gut-led business, get as many guts in on the decision-making as possible. Five guts are better than one.

Know Their Do

Don’t oversell the role. Transparency about the nitty-gritty day-to-day nature of the work will help foster fewer illusions. The naked truth will serve your company better than an embellished job description.

Know Your Who

Assess your workforce – who thrives in your environment? If problem-solvers perform, hire a Land Rover. If you need someone dependable who can cover miles of pipeline cultivation, hire a Mercedes. Lamborghinis are tempting candidates, but they may not last on the terrain.

Know Your Do

The company pitch, product and process should run through the business like a stick of Brighton rock. Hiring managers should understand the business organism and the defined function of the role they are hiring for.

Recruitment 101

Find out if candidates value career stability – if they are poised for commitment. They may have previously been the victim of circumstance or poor choices, but too many roles should ring alarm bells.

Rethink Hiring Priorities

It is easier to select on experience, written in plain sight on CVs, but this is not the best predictor of performance.

Mental bandwidth, core values, purpose and habits are difficult to change and better indicators of potential success.

It is hard to screen for ‘values’ if you have 30 minutes, a cold, a candidate in front of you and a leaky biro. If you can’t use psychometric testing, sketch out the characteristics your top performers share to guide your decision-making.

Use Headhunters Well

Maximise the headhunters in your network. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for in a candidate, headhunters can help to fine-tune a brief. They also should know your sector well and be able to advise on flaws in the hiring process – why candidates may leave or decline roles.

The Story

When you hire a candidate you form part of their life story. Monday morning is always Monday morning, but if a new role is highly appreciated, retention will be higher. Will the new candidate take the role for granted or be grateful?

“Passive” Candidates

A candidate who is not actively looking for a new role has more to lose with the wrong move. They do their due diligence about your company and the role. They are also less likely to adapt themselves in the interview process. If they choose to move to your company it’s a very considered move.


A trial day is often impossible. At the very least ensure candidates (even executive ones) meet as many colleagues as possible. Inviting them to events or social occasions during the hiring period will help them to understand your culture.

In Summary…

We covered the pioneering nature of sales people here and why they may be more susceptible to move on. We also offered thoughts on ongoing retention strategies here.

We appreciate the immense pressure commercial teams are under to find outstanding performers. We work in detail with our clients to implement successful hiring methods, but hope this serves as a helpful checklist.

We leave you with this parting thought from WWII Field Marshal, Erwin Rommel.

Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.