Why Do You Hire Salespeople?

If I were to take a poll of a thousand VP’s and Directors of Sales as to why they hire salespeople, I would get the same answer from 95% of them.  They hire salespeople to sell and make them money.  A salesperson is the lifeblood of a company.  If we all agree on WHY we hire salespeople, then why do so many companies not have a clue how to HIRE salespeople?  Why do companies put so many barriers in place to reject salespeople rather than conduct quality interviews to find people that can do the job? One common barrier salespeople face is the requirement of a college degree. Why is it so important to so many hiring managers to have their salespeople have college degrees?  Some even go so far as to dictate Ivy League degrees because they feel it is an indicator of intellect.  I have been a successful salesperson for over 20 years and NEVER in the process of closing sales has any customer/client ever asked me to see my college degree before saying yes.  I have closed millions of dollars in sales, put together multimillion dollar joint ventures, and set up long term recurring revenue generators.  My sales skills, knowledge of my product or service, and general business acumen are what generates sales.  If a college degree is part of your checklist that you use to prequalify and exclude candidates, you would have NEVER even interviewed me.   Are you hiring a salesperson for their college degree or for their ability to sell? Another obstacle successful salespeople face is work history stability. Does it matter if a salesperson has moved from job to job during their career?  If someone is a phenomenal salesperson that produces results; they are a commodity that many companies want and will recruit for.  The idea that a hiring manager will not even interview  an amazing salesperson because they have held 3 jobs in the past 5 years is ridiculous.  How do they know what the salesperson’s story is?  What if they worked for several startup companies because they are risk takers and confident in their sales ability.  Sometimes there is more to the story but if you never hear about it, you lose out on that candidate because of a checkbox.  Are you hiring a salesperson for their job history or for sales? Some companies rely on personality and cognitive testing to determine if they will interview candidates or continue them through the process.  Are you more concerned about their ability to take a test or their ability to close a sale?  In my opinion, administering tests is an avoidance or known inability to properly interview a sales person. If you don’t know how to interview for results, find someone that can.  If during an interview process, a  salesperson can’t hold an intelligent conversation or convey a compelling reason to hire themselves, then don’t hire them.  Are you hiring a salesperson for their testing ability or for sales? Finally let’s discuss the topic of an HR checklist to prequalify people for interviewing.  Having an outline or a list if qualifications is not a bad idea, but I have never seen an HR checklist that contained valid sales criteria.  They are more on the lines of college degree, years of experience, how many companies you’ve worked for, certain key words, and companies that you’ve worked for.  Which one of those criteria have to do with sales? I recently placed an inside sales rep that had no sales experience at all.  He was hungry, had a natural ability, and had just never been given the chance to gain experience.  The company that hired him interviewed him, made him demo their product, and held an intensive panel interview before hiring him.  They did their due diligence and hired him based on what he could bring to that company, not what he had done in his past.  He is an outstanding salesperson for them today.    He had a story, a huge desire, and was more than a checklist or a test.  Hiring salespeople is all about their story and finding out if they can do the job.  Are you hiring a salesperson for an obsolete checklist procedure or for their ability to sell?  Quit being lazy and find out who they are and if they can sell.  Find out their story!  


Keenan is A Sales Guy Inc’s CEO/President and Chief Antagonist. He’s been selling something to someone for his entire life. He’s been teaching and coaching almost as long. With over 20 years of sales experience, which he’ll tell you he doesn’t give a shit about, Keenan has been influencing, learning from and shaping the world of sales for a long time. Finder of the elephant in the room, Keenan calls it as he sees it and lets nothing or no one go unnoticed.