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I’m sure you’ll agree making your first sales hire can be so darn stressful if you don’t know how to start the process and what to look for in a quality sales rep.

And so, that’s precisely why I’ve put together this guide for you.

I’ll show to start the hiring process and tells you exactly what to look for in a quality MSP sales rep.

Intrigued? Well let’s not waste any time then.

Here’s What You Need to Prepare Before Interviewing Sales Reps

Before you even think about conducting any interviews, there are a few things you need to do to get the process in motion.

Step 1: Write Out the Job Description

I’ll admit, this step seems a bit obvious.

But I had to include it so that you don’t make the same mistake as plenty of business owners making their first sales hire:

They go with their gut.

You see, salespeople make their money by being likeable. And naturally, any experienced rep is likely to interview well.

So that’s precisely why having a clearly written out description of the exact person you’d like to hire is so important:

Job descriptions give you a benchmark to measure candidates against.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Start by mapping out the role and responsibilities.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is this a pure “hunter” role? Or will the sales rep be responsible for managing the customer relationship too?
  • Do I want to hire an experience rep or someone I can teach and develop?
  • Do you they need previous MSP experience or will any sales experience do?
  1. Figure out your “must-have” skills.

Before you speak with any candidates about the role, it’s important you know exactly what skills are non-negotiable.

These might be “hard skills,” like Salesforce or cold calling, or “soft skills” like listening and confidence.

  1. List out your “nice-to-have” skills.

You might have a handful of qualities you’d love to see in an ideal candidate that aren’t necessarily requirements.

It’s smart to put those down in your job description too to help you remember exactly what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve built out a description of what you’d like to see in a candidate, the next steps is figuring out the right compensation plan to attract the level of talent you want.

Step 2: Determine The Comp Plan

I’m sure you’ve heard this expression before:

You get what you pay for.

And while for some hires, you might be able to “find a deal” and hire someone with talent at a discounted rate, that’s highly unlikely in sales.

That’s because sales reps know their worth.

They know how hard it can be to build up a territory and hit quota. And they expect you to pay them accordingly.

So for you, really the big decision here is this:

Do you want to hire entry-level talent with high potential and develop them into a good sales rep (for a lesser cost)?

Or do you want to hire an experienced sales rep and pay accordingly?

As Devon MacDonald explains it over on the Overview blog, striking that balance is no simple task:

“As most CEOs have discovered at some point, sales compensation is very often a delicate balancing act. Pay too little, and you will never be able to recruit (or retain) the kind of game-changing sales talent that fuels growth. Pay too much, however, and you will struggle to scale your sales organization as that growth occurs. The key, of course, is to find the middle ground — the point at which every employee who makes up your sales organization feels fully motivated to deliver results that fuel smart growth.”

No matter the route you decide to go, the comp plan will likely have a base salary and then commission and bonus structure. Here’s a look at some of the most common splits:

As you can see, it’s not that the on-target earnings changes all that much among the three biggest plans.

It’s that the risk increases as your lower the base salary and up the commission potential.

And while you’ll typically find newer sales reps more receptive to the more “risky” opportunities, top-notch salespeople may prefer to have less base and more bonus, too – especially if there’s no cap on the commission or bonus (meaning there’s no limit to the amount they can earn).

Step 3: Ask for Referrals

Before posting a job or doing any recruiting on your own, ask around for a quality referral.

I’ll admit, it’s tough finding someone this way (after all, when someone knows a good salesperson is out there and on the market, they’re likely to scoop them up first).

But it’s always good to ask for referrals as a starting point for your job search.

Step 4: Do Some Proactive Recruiting on LinkedIn

With 500 million members, it makes sense to have LinkedIn be a source for finding sales talent you’re interested in interviewing.

But here’s the problem:

LinkedIn’s free version is pretty limited in its recruiting capacity.

Luckily for you, LinkedIn offers a free, 30-day trial on a premium account, which gives you access to better search functions and the ability to contact people on the platform.

So, let’s say you’ve rounded up a few candidates (via referrals and your recruiting efforts) and you’re now ready to start interviewing. What exactly should you be looking for?

Be Sure You Check These 5 Boxes Before Extending an Offer to Any Candidate

Are They Comfortable Meeting New People?

I’m sure you’d agree with me on this:

Sales is all about building relationships with complete strangers.

And so, if you sense any level of awkwardness in the interview outside of the expected “interview jitters,” there’s a good chance they aren’t the right candidate for you.

Are They Prepared for the Interview?

If you think about it, a job interview pretty closely resembles a sales pitch.

There’s a product (the sales rep themselves) sold to a customer with an identified need (you and your MSP).

And that’s why a good sales rep should be able to sell themselves during an interview.

(And also why the job description will come in handy.) 

The best reps come prepared to the interview.

Do they have printouts?

Have they done research on you and your business?

Are they asking the right questions?

These are all things to look out for that can help you judge how prepared the candidate is for the interview.

Do They Seem Coachable?

According to a report from Mark Roberge, the former CRO at HubSpot, coachability is the #1 predictor of success when hiring a sales rep.

Here’s what Roberge had to say about testing for coachability in an interview:

“Because we’ve found that coachability is so important, I think it’s essential to coach the candidate throughout the interview process to gauge their ability to respond to coaching. So, for example, conduct a role play, give the candidate feedback and then do another and see how they incorporate the comments you gave them. How the candidate responds and adapts to coaching during an interview is a huge predictor of their potential, in my opinion.”

Do They Thrive in a Competitive Environment?

At the core of every good sales rep is a competitive spirit.

That’s why many businesses target athletes for sales – they thrive in a competitive environment.

You don’t need to limit yourself to athletes necessarily, but you do need to make sure competition motivates the candidate – not scares them.

And Most of All…Are They Excited About The Opportunity?

You might find some reps who say they can sell anything.

And that might very well be true.

But if they’re not passionate about your solution, chances are they won’t stick around at your MSP for long.

That’s why you need to make sure they’re genuinely excited about the opportunity.

Enthusiasm matters a lot and can be the difference between a long-term partnership and needing to hire someone new in 3 months.

(And we both know you don’t want to do that.)

Hiring sales reps can be tough, but now you know everything you need to do to get the process going and the qualities you should look for in a quality candidate.