Sales are hard. It is no easy feat to influence a buyer’s decision to purchase certain goods or services.

The best salespeople will always be the business owner, or the product creator who has an inbuilt belief in the product, knows it inside out and has a passion for the item that no one else can come close to.  Initially when trying to find investors or business partners, or form a strategic alliance, the owner or creator can easily manage this sales function – it comes with the territory of being the owner/creator.
However, once the networks and infrastructure are in place, the owner/creator needs to employ external sales staff to bring the product/service to a wider audience. Is it possible to find that person who has the same internal passion, knowledge and belief?  – Probably not. What you can find however, is the person who has the natural aptitude to adopt a product, learn its key selling points, display a passion for it and influence buyers.
If sales are hard work, finding the right salesperson is even harder.  Some interesting facts from Harvard Business Review state that only 9.1% of sales meetings result in a sale, and just 1 out of 250 salespeople exceed their targets. As an employer, when looking to recruit sales people to develop your business/products, you need to be realistic about the sales environment and just how successful you can expect your sales person to be.
What to do

1. Recruit the right person
Look at the underlying personality type – and not necessarily the extrovert. Research shows us that it is not necessarily extroverted personality types that perform best in a sales environment.
What are you looking for?  The person who:
  • is fearless in where he/she goes to achieve their goals. Though they get knockbacks, they get up again looking for an alternative road to take.
  • challenges him/herself continuously and wants to beat their own sales targets from last month, and improve their technique. They will always try to do better.
  • aims to complete 10 laps in butterfly, though hopeless at swimming butterfly, because it’s a challenge.
  • seeing others’ successes, will automatically want to reach the same goals.
  • puts him/herself out of their comfort zone all the time – the male non dancer, who takes up Salsa lessons.
  • feels the adrenalin kick in when cold calling a really high level contact – and loves it!
  • doesn’t give up, not because of money or commissions, but because it is inherent in their personality to continually challenge themselves and achieve.

Couple this personality type, and these traits and attitudes, with resilience, optimism, confidence, intelligence and high level communication skills, and you will definitely be on the right track.
Give them appropriate training and the tools needed to perform their roles.
This is of paramount importance. Provide:
  • good tools - printed media, websites, statistics, technical information etc.

  • thorough training in the product and the business and its history. A business owner can easily discuss the business, its history, and its culture. However, would your salesperson know how to answer if asked about these subjects by a potential customer?

How do you know if your candidate is the right personality and has these all important qualities, traits and attitudes? 
You need to use a skilled recruiter if you want an exemplary salesperson and one who is the right fit for your company
Source: Kathryn MacMillan, APRCSA, Managing Director, Nine2Three Employment Solutions.