How to Train Your HR Department to Hire Quality Sales Reps

There’s one thing recruiters are unanimous about.

It’s that sales representatives are one of the toughest positions to hire for.

Why? Here are just a few reasons:

But you can train your HR team to overcome these hurdles.

How? By giving them the skills to not only attract candidates but also to identify the good ones and convince them to sign a contract.

Our recruitment team at EASI has gotten really good at this. The organization now employs about 50 salespeople. It generated over $53 million in revenue just in 2020. And we’re here to discuss several actionable steps you can take toward improving your recruitment process just like we have.

Don’t let resumes be your North Star

One of the big issues with salespeople is that they don’t know they’re salespeople.

Most salespeople didn’t plan on becoming one when they were in college. Sales courses are largely absent from college curricula. And being a good salesperson depends a lot on personality.

Most sales managers will tell you that they’re looking above all for the right attitude. Not for a set of hard skills. That’s why your recruiting team needs to be able to assess the right soft skills in order to hire A-players. So how do you proceed?

1. Establish a list of traits

It’s important that you help your team make a list of the traits they should actively be looking for. You should also involve the sales managers of each department.

For example, you might be looking for skills like:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Leadership
  • Curiosity
  • Competitiveness
  • Ambition
  • Control
  • Positivity

2. Build a scorecard

Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, build a scorecard. Building a scorecard for each type of position standardizes the hiring process.

This has several advantages:

  • Recruiters save time by knowing what they’re looking for
  • Candidates are filtered more efficiently
  • Sales managers don’t get bad surprises when first meeting a candidate
  • It makes it easier to evaluate the work of your recruiters

When that’s ready, it’s time to think about how your team will find those traits in candidates.

3. Establish ways to identify those traits

There’s a lot you can find out by looking at a candidate’s experience.

But in a lot of cases, sales savviness is something you’re going to have to identify by yourself. This is super important because candidates may not realize that they’re a good fit. More so than for any other position.

So you’ll have to go and actively look for the right information.

Interestingly, a lot of our salespeople didn’t apply for a sales job. They applied either for consulting or support jobs. They were ultimately hired as salespeople after the recruiting team actively identified them as good potential sales reps.

Here are a few traits the recruiting team actively looks for:

  • Leadership – Have they been in leadership/responsibility positions in school?
  • Leadership/Strategy – Do they have any entrepreneurial experience?
  • Resilience – Have they risen up from failure before?
  • Ambition – Do they ask questions about growth within the company?
  • Control – Are they trying to frame and control the interaction?
  • Control – How do they react to your attempts at destabilizing them?
  • General sales skills – How do they react when put on the spot and asked to sell themselves?

This list is not exhaustive. You need to get your team together and build one that fits your company.

Be able to assess personality (quickly)

Your recruiters need to be able to assess the personality of a candidate. It’s important because that’ll determine how they will conduct the interview.

The candidate needs to be convincing, but so does the recruiter. As we know, a sales rep isn’t an immediately attractive position. So the recruiter needs to understand the candidate’s personality to know how to convince them.

The color system

A good way to do that is to rely on the social style colors. Ideally, you’d need an entire afternoon to ask the questions and analyze the answers. But the real world is not always ideal. Your recruiters will need to assess the candidate’s social style in just a few minutes.

You could also make your candidate take the test beforehand. But keep in mind that other tests might be more relevant. For example, assessing your candidate’s cognitive abilities isn’t really possible in a conversation. So you might want to have them take a cognitive test instead.

In that sense, the color system is a good way to go about it.

Image source: ClientWise

Small talk matters

Not everyone likes small talk, but as a recruiter, it’s a great tool. In fact, recruiters should make it a point to include a small talk at the beginning of each interview. You can already learn a lot from the way a candidate behaves in the informal part of the interview. Do they answer enthusiastically? Do they seem happy to be there? Do they reciprocate? Do they go straight to business?

How to use that information?

Depending on their personality a candidate won’t respond to the same arguments.

  • A dominant (D-red) person will want to know about targets, commissions, and opportunities.
  • An influential (I-yellow) person will be interested in company culture and team-building activities.
  • A steady (S-green) person will want to know about work-life balance. They will also want to know how healthy competition is between sales reps.
  • A compliant (C-blue) person will want as much information as possible. Either on the company, job requirements, or expectations.

Investing in some training about personality can really be worth it. It’ll allow your recruiters to not only understand the candidate but also sell them the job.

Sell the job

Recruiters are salespeople. Their job is to find candidates, listen to them, determine if there’s a fit and if so, convince them to take the job. Not just any job. A tough, thankless, and humbling job.

As Larry Long Jr. says:

It’s tough to pick up the phone and outreach to folks ice cold, and it’s tough to get beat over the head over and over and over again and come back that next time with a smile on your face, with a positive attitude, ready to knock it out of the ballpark.

As such, finding suitable candidates is an arduous task.

Your recruiters also need to meet with more candidates than for other positions before making an offer. Especially since there’s a real cost to making the wrong sales hire.

On top of that, they need to sell the company. With its people and its culture. Prospecting, presenting, listening, and negotiating. All with empathy. It’s a sales job. Thus, you should invest in sales training for your recruiting team.

Teamwork makes the dream work

If you have skilled recruiters, you don’t need to micromanage. If you don’t, get some skilled ones and stop micromanaging.

But you need to be available and provide the right resources. You also need to be a bridge between your team and the various departments of the company.

Firsthand experience

If your recruiting team doesn’t get sales training, the next best thing is spending time among salespeople.

All of our recruiters go through a “Live my Life” program. It means that they get to spend time with our sales team. They sit in on training, prospecting and discovery calls, and client meetings. They learn crucial skills for their own job as well as what they should look for in a candidate.

Sometimes you just need to see it to understand it.


Like anyone else, recruiters need feedback and external opinions. They might be bothered by something in a candidate’s profile, and they might be tempted to discard the candidate. But it might be a totally subjective opinion or feeling.

And if they have the opportunity to talk to you whenever they need to, you might offer them a different point of view, which can turn an application process around.


Your job isn’t to recruit anyone. Your job is to provide your team with what they need to do theirs. That includes helping with hiring priorities. That way recruiters can focus their energy on high-value tasks. It’s also important that recruiters have access to the managers of the various departments they’re hiring for.

How to start improving right away

It doesn’t take much to get your sales recruitment team to the next level. If there are three things you can start working on, it’s:

  • Giving your team prospecting and sales training
  • Training them to identify social styles to conduct efficient interviews and sell the job better
  • Fostering communication. Both with you and heads of departments

Implementing these will not only bring you more qualified sales reps. It’ll also make your recruitment team more valuable members of the organization.

Are you ready to grow your sales team the modern way?

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