Sales Reps Who Rock! How to Find the Good Ones

by Julie Steelman

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So, you want to blow the doors off your sales goals and really grow your business? The best and fastest way to accomplish this is to hire fantastic sales reps who are driven and mirror your own passion for your product.

Qualities to Look For

Sales reps come in all types of packages and will do a good job of selling you on their qualifications. Here are some tips to help you discern who is a match for your company and who is yanking your chain. Four key qualities to look for:

1. A driven spirit with a classy style. How they interact with you is the best they will ever be. If you do not like their style, you won’t be able to work with them. Find out early what drives them so you understand their nature and motivations.
2. Honesty, honesty, and more honesty. These reps will represent you and your vision. You want to ensure the interaction with your customers is respected and relationships are valued.
3. A very clear passion for either your product or the industry you service. Passionate and engaging salespeople can overcome many objections and tend to generate more revenue than the less enthusiastic rep. These types of reps create a sense of urgency to purchase, and close more business faster by using their enthusiasm.
4. Did they ask for the business? You want to hire a sales rep who is ready, willing, and able to ask the customer for the business at the appropriate time. One way to determine this is by watching if they ask you for the job. Watch for reps who are too friendly too quickly—they tend to be afraid to ask the client for the business.

Interviewing Tip

Remember, sales reps are in constant contact with you and your customers. Make sure you like your rep enough to work with them every day and to help them learn your story and product quickly. During the interview process, listen to your instincts, and on the second interview, ask each rep to sell you your product. This exercise will demonstrate how well they understand selling, the essence of your product, and working with you as a client.

Where to Find Great Reps

1. Your clients. Yes, your customers work with salespeople who are either your competitors or from other industries. Ask clients for recommendations. This is a great way to poach someone from a competitor and/or hire someone your client already likes.
2. Online. You can post on Craigslist and common job sites like Monster. Make sure your classified headline is provocative and catchy so it gets read often. Post the job listing in multiple places on each site, both in the “sales” section and in the industry of your choice.
3. Recruiters. Recruiters can really help you find a good match by pairing your needs with the right salespeople. Recruiters tend to have databases full of great candidates and know most of their contacts well. Using a recruiter may cost you a bit more, but the payoff of having a stellar sales rep is worth every penny.


How you decide to pay your sales reps is very important. This decision really comes from your financial structure and what you can afford. The best model is to pay a salary and a high commission. If you are a growth/start-up company, you may want to pay more commission than your competitors to attract seasoned pros. At the beginning of each year, it is normal to re-evaluate the compensation plans and commission structure based on your business needs. Another way to really motivate a sales rep is to offer them an opportunity to earn ownership in the company.

The key to a great comp plan is to match what you can offer against your rep’s personal goals. Make sure that anytime you give something, you get something. For example, if a rep wants a base salary that you did not plan on paying and you offered them a stake in the company, you might decide to pay them the monthly base salary in exchange for the stake in the company. Any type of compensation package should be attached to a revenue goal for each sales rep so you know what to expect for your money.


How much time you spend training a sales rep is a function of their experience level and the complicated nature of your product. Your sales rep should know your story and reason for creating the product inside and out. In addition, you want them to know as much detail about the product and how your product design caters to the buyers’ needs. It also helps to review any customer feedback and/or objections you are aware of so the sales rep is completely armed. The best way to train new reps is to role-play different buying scenarios with them until you think they can handle most situations. Make training them and coaching them a priority and they will in turn make selling your product a priority.

Julie Steelman is a member of the Orange County, CA, Incubator and is the founder of Sales Nirvana.