Advice for Finding Your First Entry-Level Sales Associate

Recruiting for a new sales position or contract hire may be the most important thing you do this year. This is because the impact of a bad sales hire may lead to lost productivity, negative impact on morale and brand, and not to mention lost time due to recruiting and training.

Characteristics of a Great Entry-Level Sales Hire

An enormous amount of your search should come from seeking success traits, a strong inner game, and a culture fit for your organization.

Key success traits of a salesperson – Top performers have an ambitious mindset and aren’t naive to the roadblocks they’ll encounter. You should be looking for job candidates that are coachable, curious and have a strong work ethic. Entry-level sales staff often balances a powerful intelligence with relevant prior success or promotion in previous jobs.

Does the Candidate have Inner Game? – A strong job performance history needs to be coupled with a mental drive to overcome as sales positions can have days with monotonous tasks. You may want to work with a recruiter to identify characteristics of potential job candidates related to self-limited beliefs and a need for approval. These, coupled with the ability to control emotions, should distinctly disqualify candidates early on in the process.

Don’t Overlook Culture – If you’ve ever hired a rockstar candidate who didn’t work out, you can attest that even highly desirable candidates, when lacking a substantive connection to your company’s culture, won’t work well with your existing staff. The clock is ticking, so don’t assume anyone will adequately mesh with your current team unless they seem highly adaptable. For most sales contractors, we find that the most sought out characteristics in placed sales candidates come down to decisiveness, which is not always – or at least initially – understood by the hiring manager or business owner making the decision.


If your organization is ready to onboard an entry level sales team member, you may want to consider some of the following categories that you or your staffing agency can use to rank and weight candidates:

  • Job Fit
  • Prior Success / Competitiveness
  • Work Ethic / Commitment / Discipline
  • Passion / Desire
  • Intelligence / Consultativeness
  • Curiosity
  • Coachability / Ability to Change
  • Preparation / Firm Knowledge
  • Leadership / Teamwork
  • Ability to Qualify
  • Ability to Close
  • Objection Handling
  • Inner Game
  • Culture Fit

Ultimately, you’ll have a handful of important decisions to make at the outright to help you understand the human resources you’d like to add to your team this year.

More Experience Versus Less Experience

One of the best benefits of working with a recruiter is that you have a third party to review resumes and provide feedback you may not originally consider or seek out. Experience usually stands out as the bulk section of a resume, making it a hugely important item for display and candidate selection. While it depends on the person and position, remember that you’ll never come across the perfect entry-level sales contractor, so don’t conflate the ideal background for an ambitious drive with potentially fewer years in the workforce.

Sales Background Versus Non-Sales Background

By nature, contract sales staff will work in environments that may be more versatile, communication-oriented, and rejection-heavy. The ability to manage oneself in this type of work environment is indicative of an ideal candidate for your sales team. A traditional sales background may lend to this type of exposure, but you’ll have to find out on your own – or through a recruiter – if a particular candidates’ experience lends to a conducive opportunity to hire a temp-to-hire contractor that will bring in sales in alignment with your current lead lifecycle.

Staffing Agency Background Versus Non-Agency Background

Your ability to connect directly with a host of candidates that have staffing agency experience is crucial. This is because the majority of someone’s recent and relevant work history may be a match with what you’re looking for, and better yet, you can bring someone on who has recently performed in a similar capacity for other companies. Candidates seeking full-time employees may have obfuscated or incomplete perspectives that may render them disinterested in your company, which is why you may want to consider bringing in an outside point-of-view when it comes to the search and selection of your next temp or contract-to-hire worker.

Recruiting Firm Versus Hire Internally

The most recognized benefits of recruiting firms include faster results and cost savings. Unlike operational or administrative positions, sales hires can have a bracingly important role in establishing growth of your company. Based on your timing, you may need a recruiting firm to give your current staff a trial run to provide evidence towards a new full-time role without a long-term commitment. By focusing on a diverse workforce and increased productivity, you will be able to show results instead of excuses.


In the end, you just want to make sure you’ve gather substantial feedback to ensure you’re making the right decision for your organization. There will often be setbacks and slow onboarding sequences, but this is all a part of the glory of owning your own business or managing a large, diverse team.

Through it all, you may find it easier and less taxing to compile your short list of contract candidates by sourcing them through a recruiting agency like Premier Talent Partners.

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