News Feature | July 21, 2015

RetailNOW 2015 Sneak Peek: Time-Tested Rules For Hiring & Retaining Salespeople

jim roddy

By Jim Roddy, VP of Marketing, RSPA

RetailNOW 2015 Sneak Peek

I can’t promise the channel executives who attend my RSPA RetailNOW 2015 presentation — titled “8 Time-Tested Rules For Hiring & Retaining Salespeople (Rule 6 Almost Started A Fistfight)” — will achieve perfection in their sales team-building activities. Even Hall of Fame hiring managers don’t bat 1.000, especially in sales.

But if you apply the principles of this proven process, you will exponentially reduce your number of bad sales hires and make your successful sales hires even better.

Because I don’t want to spoil the entire seminar, I’ll only highlight the first three rules. But, so you don’t feel cheated, I will include 5 Tremendous Interview Questions for Sales Candidates at the end of this column. So we’re even, okay?

Rule #1: Raise your standards. Capable salespeople who are successful, fun, and have high character actually do exist. Hold out to hire them. A typical hiring manager error is to hire only for skills. Your pre-employment interviews should be structured to determine if the candidate is a good match for your company in four areas: skills, personality, character, and mapping. (Mapping definition: Does the candidate have the psychological makeup to be inclined to perform the activities of the job?)

Rule #2: Fire your lousy salespeople. You need to establish the right culture before hiring new salespeople. Give underperforming salespeople a chance to get good, but the timeframe to get above standard should be measured in months, not quarters or years. If you give a rep adequate support and they fail to meet your standard, you need to cut the cord for the sake of your culture.

Rule #3: Sit down and write a training outline. In Good To Great, author Jim Collins talks about not just discipline but “rigorous discipline.” You need have the discipline to develop a thorough sales training plan to ensure you train new hire sales reps. Fundamental aspects of a sales training program include: a job description, a specific roadmap for the first 13 weeks on the job, a list of who and what they’ll be exposed to and when, and a frequent, candid meeting with their supervisor.

Did you notice the first three rules don’t involve hiring in itself? You need to establish a sturdy foundation for you company culture before moving forward with new sales hires.

5 Tremendous Interview Questions for Sales Candidates: The more information you can uncover and the more skillfully you analyze it, the better your hiring decisions will be. This can only be accomplished through multiple interviews that include a heavy dose of behavior-based interview questions. These five questions have served me well over the years.

  1. Tell me about your sales process at your current/previous job.
  2. Of all your work in sales, have you been more successful servicing clients or developing a new territory? Why?
  3. Could you see yourself enjoying this job for 10 years or more? Why?
  4. Give me an example of you closing a sale quickly. Followed by: Thank you. Can you give me another example?
  5. Give me an example of a long sales cycle and your persistence to see the process through to the close. Followed by: Thank you. Can you give me another example?

If you want more details on sales hiring best practices, I can be reached at or 814-897-9000, ext. 201, or you can visit the website for my book:

Better yet, if you’re in Orlando for RetailNOW, I’m speaking Aug. 5 at 9:00 a.m. in the Tallahassee room at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center.

Happy hiring!