How to recruit a salesperson?

Réussir le recrutement d'un commercial
Business Engineer, Business Developer, Key Account Manager, Inside Sales, Sales Director - these jobs are always in demand.

From the sales representatives of the 2000s to today's salesperson, the methods have evolved but the skills have remained the same: expertise in prospecting, opening accounts, ease of communication, and negotiation are all essential to the role.

Faced with a shortage of skills in the sector, how do you recruit the "right" salesperson?

1. Create a detailed job description

There are as many different job descriptions as there are types of business, services, or products, so before you even start recruiting, you will have to refine your search.

Determine criteria that will be validated during interviews (and prior to that, CV selection):

  • Essential skills: identifying customer typology, understanding the service or product offer, commercial approach
  • associated skills: telephone prospecting, conducting exploratory meetings, upselling, administrative management
  • behavioural traits: team player, determined, good interpersonal skills for building loyalty, autonomy, organisational skills, etc.

This list of desired skills will depend on the responsibilities of the job; are they business development orientated who must be expert in commercial canvassing or an account manager – a very good communicator and a specialist in building customer loyalty? 

From these questions, a detailed job description can be drawn up, specifying:

  • A general description of your company with your mission and culture.
  • The general context of the role and the possible development opportunities.
  • The tasks and responsibilities
  • Details on the product lines or services sold, the customers, the sector, the average sales targets

2. Preparing for the interview

Now that you have determined your requirements, it will be simple to create a grid / list of questions that will allow you to gauge the qualities of the candidate against the skills required.
  1. Can you describe the work environment and your main responsibilities? 
  2. What products did you sell?
  3. Who were your contacts?
  4. Which factors were your performance measured on?
  5. What revenue/gross profit have you brought in in the last 3 years? What were your targets?
  6. In your sector, what is the competitive advantage of the brand’s products (brand positioning, competitors, respective market shares)?
  7. Ask for examples of success, how they work accounts, and how they influencers others
  8. Ask for examples of failures and what lessons they’ve learnt from them 
  9. What sales method(s) do they use?
  10. Detail the scope of each previous job: geographical sector, customer business area, etc.
  11. Depending on the need: hunter/breeder profile, Key Account/Middle Account experience, business sectors, draw up a list of questions.

Tip: do not hesitate to “test” the candidates during the interview. Everyone knows a good salesperson must know how to sell, so check it out with a little role-play! Ask them to consider you as a prospective customer and to improvise a sales pitch on your product. This will allow you to see if they are capable of thinking on the spot, and also if they researched and took an interest in your company and its products before the interview.

3. Choosing the "right" candidate

The interview is an opportunity to gain a lot of useful information, but it is also an excellent way to understand how the candidate works in front of you.


Interpersonal skills, empathy, enthusiasm for sales and negotiation, the job of salesperson is above all a “human” role; therefore, these skills are just as important to check.


You will be tempted to recruit candidates that resemble your best performers, but this would not necessarily be proof of success. Atypical candidates are sometimes interesting in the balance of a team, as they may have a different approach and can bring a fresh pair of eyes to the role.

Tips :

  1. In B2B, it is more and more important for a salesperson to be registered on professional social networks. Take a look at their profile to check the extent of their address book and the quality of their contacts.
  2. Put the candidate in front of other stakeholders in your company during an interview and ask them to prepare a business case and present it to the group. You will be able to check their ability to present an offer/product, their ability to express themselves with ease (and with what tools?), and their ability to convince, persuade, and communicate with others.

For 17 years SP Search has been recruiting for Software Publishers for Sales, Pre-sales and other functions. Our assessment tools specific to sales functions (sales audit) allow us to analyse key skills and know-how: initiation and communication, conclusion, customer follow-up, presentation, and administration.


Our recruitment and assessment processes focus on measuring personality, performance, and potential.

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