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Recruiting Sales Talent for Small Businesses

The right candidate can successfully sell your solutions to your ideal clients.

Effectively recruiting the right sales talent for your company can help ensure you reach your sales goals and it may help you in ways that you hadn't considered, for instance, it might...

  • Help foster competitive spirit on the sales team
  • Bring fresh thinking to the organization
  • Send messages to the broader organization that the sales team is expanding/improving
  • Challenge the company status quo
  • Highlight a career path for internal candidates

The right sales candidate will possess a combination of capability and suitability for the job. Recruiting sales talent can be done in many effective ways using resources that include:

On-line Recruiting

On-line recruiting is preferred by many companies to reach an extraordinary number of potential candidates at a very low cost.  Most companies post job openings on their own website and many also use sites like, to advertise openings. is growing in popularity with experienced sales professionals.

Industry Magazines, Organizations, Trade Shows

People in this category understand your industry and may be very familiar with your business or other similar businesses.  They may also know of outstanding sales talent that is available or looking to make an employment change.  Advertise in industry magazines or on industry association web sites.  Attend industry conferences and trade shows to watch and listen to sales talent while they are in action.

Customer Recommendations

Asking customers to recommend sales reps can be highly productive.  Customers may have current working relationships with sales reps selling products or services that are complementary to yours. Having a key client endorse  sales rep may provide insight into the sales rep's work ethic, responsiveness, style, skill level and a host of other attributes that can be difficult to measure and assess independently.

Referrals from Employees

It is commonly understood that talented people associate with talented people.  Ask your top sales rep if s/he would recommend a qualified friend to join the team.  Don't limit yourself to your sale reps for referrals.  Ask Marketing, Engineering and Accounting if they have friends who would be a good fit with the sales organization.


Friends and business associates may have recommendations for you based on their insight regarding your business and personal style.  Reaching out to friends broadens the search several-fold.

Local Newspapers and Business Journals

These periodicals may still have a print version where you can place an ad for sales talent.  Many periodicals have moved to an on-line format and make it very easy for companies to post ads and recruit talent directly from their web sites.

Known Industry Talent

Known industry talent almost always implies a sales rep coming from the competition.  In some industries and in some states, this is a common occurrence.  Sales reps move freely from employer to employer.  In the best circumstances, they bring industry knowledge, in-depth understanding of customer buying styles, product knowledge and, of course, competitive insight.

Professional Recruiters

Many executives recognize that an enormous amount of time can be spent recruiting sales talent. Professional recruiters may use all of the tools and methods suggested here along with industry knowledge, experience in recruiting and first-hand relationships with sales talent for your business.  Ask your recruiter to present three or more qualified candidates for your review and selection.