Running a small business is no easy task, especially when it comes to hiring sales people. Finding qualified sales reps is one challenge, finding the right sales people for your company is an even bigger one.

Here are 5 strategies that will help you hire the perfect sales rep for your business.

1. Ignore your gut

Most business owners rely on their instinct when hiring salespeople and they believe they can” sense” a good candidate.
However, gut instinct is often fallible.

You see, many salespeople make an extremely positive first impression and this initial interaction can affect our decision-making process. We like the candidate, we get good vibes from them, and their resume looks good, so we believe that they will make a good addition to our team.

Unfortunately, a few months later that person still hasn’t performed to our expectations.

2. Prepare

One of most common mistakes business owners make when interviewing potential sales reps is that they don’t adequately prepare beforehand.

They walk into the interview, review the person’s resume and begin asking questions. The interview lacks structure. The owner often ends up talking too much. And they don’t really learn key information about the candidate.

To conduct an effective interview you need to invest time reviewing the resume and preparing your questions. Look for gaps in employment and question someone who appears to have jumped around from job to job.

3. Ask tough questions

This isn’t a popularity contest; you are hiring someone to represent your business and help you generate sales. That means you must ask tough, direct questions.

Question their sales results at previous employers. Get them to explain how they will generate new business for your company. Ask them to describe a typical week. You can even ask them how much money they want—or need—to earn and why.

Are these difficult questions to ask?
But that’s the point.

Competent salespeople will have no hesitations in responding. They will display confidence in their replies. They will be able to give you clear examples. And they won’t be uncomfortable answering your questions.

4. Talk less, listen more

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when they interview sales people is that they spend too much time talking.
Your goal in an interview is to get the other person talking. If you spend 60 or 70 percent of the interview talking about your business you really won’t get insight into the candidates’ experience or ability to help you achieve your sales goals.

5. Use assessment tools

Recruiting is part art and part science.
A sales person can look great on paper and interview extremely well. However, that doesn’t mean they will be a good fit for your company.

Case in point: A small business client of mine needed to hire a sales rep.
The owner of the business conducted the interview then had the candidate complete an assessment that I helped him design for his business. The assessment raised some questions and I advised him not to hire the rep at least not without conducting a more thorough interview.

Unfortunately, my client elected to hire the rep (because he liked him!) and, not surprisingly, the sales person did not perform.

During the next few months we went through the interviewing and assessment process several more times—my client had a difficult believing that science would help him recruit a good sales. However, after several failed attempts, He finally heeded my advice (based on the assessment results) and hired a sales rep who actually delivered results.

Assessments can be expensive but so is hiring the wrong the sales person. You can save time and money by incorporating the use of the right sales assessment tool into your recruiting process.

Hiring sales people is not an enjoyable task; after all, you have a hundred other pressing issues to deal with. However, if you take the right approach you can hire the perfect sales rep.