How to Hire a Sales Person (Part 3)


How to Hire a Sales Person
For an early-stage technology company

By Joe Payne
Part 3

In our first post, we discussed defining your selling and organizational environment. In our second post we discussed screening and qualification of sales candidates. In our final installment, we will cover how to determine the “fit” between the candidate and your organization.

One of the most important factors in determining the probability of success for a sales person in your organization is how well they match up with your environment. Looking back at our first segment, it is necessary to first understand how your prospects buy and how your organization sells to them. Using our “Magic Grid”, we screened out generally unsuccessful sales candidates and then looked at the sales candidate’s selling style and organizational preferences.

Step Six: Compare our answers for your organization and those of the prospective sales person. How well do they match up?

Compare what you sell with what he or she sells:

  • Is it a product or a service? Does that match the candidate’s experience?
  • If you are selling something your buyer has purchased previously or something new but similar to something purchased previously or something completely new, not like anything purchased previously, does their experience match that?
  • If it is sold (or positioned) as a solution, is that how the candidate has sold?

Compare your buyer with the candidate’s buyer:

  • Does your target market match the target market of the candidate?
  • Is the size or complexity of your typical buyer’s organization similar to that of the candidate?
  • Are the number of levels involved in a purchase equal to those of the candidate’s sale?
  • Is the decision maker within your prospect organization the same as that of the candidate?
  • Are the influencers within your prospects similar to those of the candidate?
  • How about those with veto authority?
  • How does the price of your product or service compare with what the candidate has been selling?
  • Does the length of your usual sales cycle match the candidate’s typical sales cycle?
  • Does your sales territory match that of the candidate?
  • If the sales person is responsible for developing their own leads, make sure that is part of their current responsibilities.
  • Is there a match between how sales people work in your organization – independently or as part of a team – and how the sales candidate currently works?

Step Seven: Compare your organizational environment with that of sales candidates:

  • How does the size of the organizations compare?
  • What about the selling team size?
  • Compare your organization (structured vs. entrepreneurial) with the preferred environment for the candidate.
  • Compare your sales process (definition of prospect stages, reporting, reviews, etc.) with the preferred environment for the candidate.

The key to hiring a good sales person is to match the sales candidate’s skills with your needs: matching your selling and organizational environment with the sales person’s selling style and preferred environment; plus evaluating the sales person’s selling skills in an environment similar to yours. When you have selected generally successful sales candidates that matched all of these factors, they will usually be effective. Hiring a sales person is really not that difficult, it just requires a disciplined, objective process. Follow these steps to guarantee that you’re hiring the best sales person for your company.

If you have questions, email me at

Joe Payne ( is Managing Director of Integra Search, an Atlanta-based retained search and recruiting consulting firm that serves early-stage technology companies. Joe estimates that he has conducted over 12,000 interviews in his 25 year career in search.

Copyright 2011 by Integra Search, Inc.

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