A Step-By-Step Guide To Hiring Inside Sales Reps

Written by David Jackson

Looking through sales rep applications.

Finding and hiring qualified inside salespeople is often cited as a leading problem among sales managers. The standard approaches of hiring a recruiter or posting on job boards are expensive and often insufficient.

Having faced similar challenges in the past, I helped build the following process (with the help of several great colleagues), which allowed us to hire as many as 10 qualified inside sales reps per month.

Step One: Define your ideal employee profile

Before you start your search, you first need to know what you're looking for; so it's important to start by defining your ideal employee profile (IEP). To do this, study your top performing sales reps to see what they have in common. Do they have similar backgrounds, personality types, communication styles, etc? IEPs can vary from company to company, and from team to team; but for inside sales reps, I've generally found the most success with people who exhibit the following traits:

  • Recent college graduates or people just getting started in their sales career

  • Competitive & aggressive

  • Smart, but not necessarily well educated

  • Money-motivated

  • Thoughtful and slightly introverted

Step Two: Get in front of your ideal candidates

Hiring a recruiter or posting on Monster.com isn't going to cut it. These are great first steps, but to build a robust pipeline of candidates you're going to need to cast a wide net.

  • College job boards: Identify the top 10 colleges you'd like to hire from and regularly post to their job boards.

  • College job fairs: There's no better way to meet with dozens and dozens of candidates, than by attending college job fairs. Most students will bring copies of their resumes, so you can easily add them to your recruiting pipeline.

  • College Career Centers: Build a relationship with the managers of the college career center. Students are always asking for advice on internships and career opportunities, and you want to be the first company the advisors recommend.

  • GlassDoor: GlassDoor is quickly becoming the go-to job board for young professionals. Make sure you're posting your job openings there, and that your company has positive reviews from employees and an attractive company profile. A lot of reps I speak with don't bother applying if a company has poor reviews from their current sales reps.

  • LinkedIn: No big surprise here… LinkedIn has 300 million members, many of whom match your IEP.

  • Craigslist: Yes, you will have to sift through lots of unqualified candidates, but Craigslist is still an affordable and effective way to reach job seekers.

  • Internships: Having an ongoing summer internship program will help build your brand at your target colleges, and among college students. And it's always smart to test drive before you buy.

  • Get referrals from current employees: Recent college grads tend to know lots of other recent college grads looking for work. Set up a referral bonus program to reward current employees for referring their friends. (For example, a $2,000 bonus for referring a friend that is hired and still employed after 90 days).

  • Build your brand: Ultimately, you want your company to become known as the best place to work for your IEP. To do this, you need happy employees who tell their friends how much they love their job and refer everyone they know. Also, you need to promote the benefits and perks that you offer.

  • Show off the fun: Having a team happy hour? Did a sales rep recently win a sales competition? Create content and post it to GlassDoor, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook where current employees can share it with their friends, generating awareness for your company among their network, and further building your brand.

Step Three: Build your pipeline, define your key metrics

Ultimately, you need to approach hiring in much the same way you approach sales. Implement a candidate management system to track potential candidates (leads) overtime. Develop stages for the candidate pipeline, and measure conversions at each stage. A typical candidate pipeline may include:

  • Number of total applications received

  • Number of qualified applications received

  • Number of qualified applicants that complete a phone interview

  • Number of qualified applicants that complete an in-person interview

  • Number of applicants that are extended a job offer

  • Number of applicants that accept a job offer

  • Number of applicants still employed at 90 days

  • Number of applicants still employed at 12 months

  • Once the pipeline is built, start filling the top of the funnel using the strategies listed above.

  • Measure conversions at each stage of the pipeline to determine breakdowns in your process.

In Conclusion

For growing companies, hiring sales reps isn't something that's done "as-needed." To consistently attract and retain the right people, you need a strategic, measured approach that's continuously filling the top of your hiring funnel, and systematically moving candidates through your process, until they're hired and performing to expectations.

Written by David Jackson

David runs the business side of things at FullStack Labs. He has over a decade of experience building technology companies, products, and teams for leading Silicon Valley companies.