What Interviewing 31 Sales People Taught Me About “Sales”

sales person

Over the past few months, I have interviewed 31 potential hires for a sales position. I’ve posted openings on job boards, used recruiters and even tapped into my network. The one thing I quickly realized is that it’s really, really hard to find the right sales person.

Thinking about hiring sales people for your company? Remember these 7 tips before hiring.

Although I haven’t found the perfect fit yet, luckily interviewing 31 people hasn’t been a complete waste of time since I learned much more about “sales” than I did before. Here are some of the “ah-ha” moments I had over the last few months:

You can’t hire without testing the waters

If you want to grow your sales, what’s the first thing you would want to do? Hire a sales person, right? It sounds like the logical thing to do, but it isn’t.

You won’t know what problems the sales person is going to run into unless you try being one yourself. So, before you try to hire someone to sell for you, make sure you do it for a few weeks, if not a few months. It’s not easy to teach someone to sell something if you can’t even do it yourself. Even if you’re not the greatest sales person in the world, you need to spend time training your new hire on the particulars of the job.

Also, from a compensation perspective, you can get an idea of how much each sale will be worth to the company and how many deals a sales person can potentially bring in each quarter.

Not all departments are equal

When you are selling a product or service to a company, you have to pick a department to sell to. Whether it’s marketing, customer service, sales, or engineering, you have to pick a department to tackle.

If you are trying to sell to multiple departments, your sales cycle can become a lot longer. The easiest department to sell to within an organization is usually sales. It doesn’t matter what budgets other departments have – sales makes money for a company. Other departments, like marketing, cost companies money.

For example, if a sales person tells her boss that she needs a specific piece of software to make more sales, her boss is likely to say yes. If a marketing person needs software to make better marketing decisions, her boss is likely to ask if it is in the company’s marketing budget.

Look at Salesforce as an example. The company sells its software to your sales people to help them track and manage their clients so they can make more sales. Plus, it allows your boss to keep tabs on you if you are the sales person.

You need a process

Having a sales person or two is great, but it won’t make your company successful. You will need to scale your sales department and have different groups focusing on different aspects of sales. For example, your company may end up having enterprise, inside sales, account management, and lead generation teams.

Having different groups focus on different things is a great way to scale your sales. But, you won’t be able to do this unless you come up with a process.

From having materials to train new employees quickly to creating a list of FAQs asked by customers, you need to put the time and energy into creating processes for your sales team. If you don’t, you’ll end up having a lot of sales people who aren’t meeting their quota.

Pay doesn’t matter

I don’t care if a sales person wants $50,000 or $250,000 a year. Although you may think that you are getting a better sales person if you pay more, it isn’t always the case.

Some people love selling no matter what you give them or pay them. And some people just like sitting around even if you incentivize them to sell more by giving higher commissions.

You have to find candidates that are hungry, scrappy, and willing to do whatever it takes to make a sale. Pay is great and all, but you just have to find someone who has a passion for selling.

Numbers are deceiving

If you ever interview a sales candidate, he will tell you his quota, which is a number that he is supposed to hit each quarter or year in his current (or past) job. For example, if a sales person works for Oracle, his quota may be one million dollars per year in sales.

So, if you hired that person, you would expect him to do fairly well, right? Sadly, it doesn’t usually work that way.

Your new hires can paint a picture of how much money they brought in for the company they are currently working for, but to really figure out how many sales they did, you have to ask the following questions:

  1. How much of your quota was made up of new sales?
  2. How much of your quota was from renewals?
  3. How much of your quota was made up of up-sells?
  4. What was your average deal size?
  5. How long is your current sales cycle?
  6. Out of all the sales you closed, how many of those leads were given to you?

Asking those questions will help you determine how much money the candidate can potentially bring in if he is not given any leads and has to start selling on his own.

Selling is only half the battle

Just because someone is a good sales person doesn’t mean that this person is right for the job. There are two important aspects that you have to look at other than the person’s ability to sell:

  1. Does she fit within your company’s culture? – if she can’t get along with your team, you don’t want to hire her. As your sales grows, it will require support from other departments within your organization. And if the other departments hate sales, you won’t hit your numbers because they won’t get the support they need.
  2. Does she understand what you are selling? – if a sales person doesn’t get what your company is selling, how can she possibly sell it? Now, granted, she may get lucky and make a few sales, but she’ll be a lot better off if she understands what you are selling.

The best way you can figure those two things out is to have other members on your team interview the person as well as test her to see if she understands what your product or service does.

If you can’t find someone who fits within your company culture or understands what you are selling, you shouldn’t hire for the sake of hiring. Keep looking.

Pick a niche and go for it

When you first start selling your product or service, you need to pick an industry to sell to and just go for it. The industry can be whatever you want: health care, bio-tech, or even construction.

The industry you pick should be one that you think can benefit from your product or service and, more importantly, is one that you or your sales person has a strong Rolodex for.

Don’t spend much money on tackling that one industry; just hope that it works out. And if you don’t see it working out, make sure you quickly shift or refine your approach.

Once you tackle one industry and you have built up some marquee clients, you can go after others. If you decide to go after multiple industries at once, you will be more likely to fail as each one will bring its own set of problems.


Sales isn’t an easy thing to get good at. After interviewing 31 candidates and doing sales myself for years, by no means am I an expert in it. Heck, I would even say I am still a novice.

But one thing is for sure, when you are hiring for a sales position, make sure you hire slowly and fire fast because sales people are expensive. The last thing you want to be doing is spinning your wheels and wasting money.

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  1. Great post Neil. What do you think about the sales person needing to have technical knowledge or background about the product they are selling? How important is their knowledge compared to their overall selling ability?

    • The successful sales person own the ability to sell, and they learn the knowledge.
      Once you start learning, you can catch up with the knowledge. I guess the potential and personality to be a sell person is more important than the knowledge.

    • I think knowledge is extremely important. It’s difficult to sell a product you don’t know much about.

      • Very true. I had to clean up a lot of messes caused by independent reps that had just enough product knowledge to be dangerous.

    • That is exactly what Neil said. In order to make sales you have to understand what you are selling. If you don’t know what you are selling it means that you wont be motivated to sell that product because you have no idea about it’s benefits. I am working in sales myself. I used to work for other people but now I am working for myself and I can tell you that there is no point in selling something that you don’t know anything about because you won’t be able co convince the buyers that it is the right thing for them.

      • The reason why sales people don’t succeed is simply because they have no idea about what they’re talking about. And that’s normal. The more you learn about a product/service, the easier it is to sell it.

        • People usually think that selling is easy if you know how to do it, but in reality if you don’t know the product you are selling you can’t convince people to buy it. Of course, there are people that now exactly what they want to buy and that is an easy task, even someone without experience can sell to them, but the hard ones are those that have no idea about your product and if you are not able to convince them you won’t make a sale.

          • I think that’s one of the biggest factors involved. If you don’t what you’re talking about, the chances of you selling someone else on it is slim.

    • bissell proheat :

      if you have technical knowledge, it will be an advantage for you to relate your product with other things. sometimes people can be convince by relate it with something else. sometimes, people don’t know why they need to buy that product. unless you can tell a story about other things first and then come back to the product back. at that time, they may change their mind. for me, selling ability is important. it depend own how you tackle customer mind. it is like how you attract their attention before you sell your product. it will be better.

      • I think the more you about the product/service and how it works will help you drastically in your closing ability.

    • Your comments on Salespersons Pay- “Pay Doesn’t Matter” are not just completely WRONG but anyone who agrees with such a completely shallow conclusion as this – does a huge disservice to any company or hiring manager of salespeople that could really actually use higher tiered sales talent. Like anything in life – you get what you pay for.- and if you think you can take advantage of any salesperson who simply has a passion for selling and they won’t care what they get paid–then your are simply showing your absolute lack of intelligence on the subject or you are just plain greedy, manipulative and cheap.

      Any company that really understands the importance of front end revenue to every enterprise knows that the greater the sales talent (salesperson’s with quantitative results and a track record of success in record achieving sales and profits) are worth every penny or more of the higher compensations’ they receive.

      That is precisely why the top sales people in most organizations, aside from the Owners or Officers of the company are the highest paid employees. Good grief! – I certainly feel sorry for any salesperson that works for you.

      Also, “Hire Slowly and Fire Fast”- It looks like you also could use an education on hiring qualified employees in the first place and then something about professional training and management of those employees after they are brought on board.

      Silly Neil – Everyone cares about what they get paid – it’s always the name of the game-in every occupation and in every business. It looks like the reason you couldn’t find a good “fit”after 31 interviews is because your’e just plain greedy and cheap. I’m sure many of the salespeople you interviewed concluded that as well.

      Advice like yours is what big companies love to hear so that they
      can pay much more valuable salespeople a lot less by regurgitating such misinformed opinions.

      Any company that listens and acts on such errant advice as yours – will always have a hard time finding truly great salespeople that would actually want to work for them and then even stay with company for any reasonable length of time.

      If the Wall Street Journal calls you one of the “top influencers’ on the web” – maybe we should all consider canceling our subscriptions. Either that or maybe I should start consulting in place of you for the customers you mentioned in your credits and show them how they can really grow there businesses and increase revenues and profits.

    • How does a sale person get a potential customer’s time? Whether it be an individual or a department? And would anyone know of a good site or training videos that can teach me how to talk to people?

      • Bronson,

        Start with door to door sales. I actually make a good living at it. If you can sell there. You can sell anywhere.

        You have to be able to understand and LISTEN to your customers. If you truly appreciate people for who they are. You will have no problem.

        I do agree with the previous comments about the author’s opinion on the commissions. I am FAR more motivated when I get a good commission. When I feel like my company is being cheap or they decide that I am doing such a good job selling that they make my job harder by either raising the rates or not providing me with the brochures or flyers I need in a timely manner, I start to look elsewhere. I am the one that got them there. I need to feel my job is secure when they have “more than enough customers”.

  2. A really helpful post, Neil. You are doing a great job and I’d like to have a talk to you these days.

  3. “when you are hiring for a sales position make sure you hire slowly and fire fast because sales people are expensive.”

    this is a little brutal. if you are hiring someone, anyone, you need to give them a couple chances to screw up and improve. the best you can do is document everything that is going on, try to improve the situation with them, and after revisiting several times if the situation does not improve, suggest you both move on. that way the salesperson and you both know that its not working and its for the best. “firing fast” does not help the salesperson or your company.

    • Yeah I know what you mean, I should of gave it more clarification. Be careful with who you bring on board, don’t just take anyone.

    • I think what Neil wanted to say is to take a good look at who you are hiring, don’t jump on the first person you see and if that person isn’t able to fulfill the tasks required you have to look for somebody else because you will loose money.

    • bissell proheat :

      you can make a test before hiring any sales person. you can ask him or her to sell any product or services he or she knows in front of you. by doing that you can evaluate how’s their performance.

  4. @Tim I think what he means is exactly what you mean, but you can’t drag it out. If you can’t get it together in three months or so, you probably can’t sell the product.

    And it’s complicated because some people can sell anything, and some people excel at selling in certain markets. It depends what kind of sales person you need.

    • Sometimes sales just isn’t the right businesses for people so it’s best for both people not to be unhappy and just move on.

  5. This post couldn’t have come at a better time, Neil as I’m looking to go through same round of hires.

    There’s a little typo “higher them” instead of “hire them”

    Great post, and I like the fact that you write from personal experiences.

  6. Great info from you Neil and also from others that have commented. I have spent many years in sales and I could write a book…..but there is more money in sales!

    I could not agree more with “Pick a niche and go for it”. Sales is a lot like fishing, pick a good spot and you can pull them into the boat all day. Stay too long in the wrong spot and you waste the day talking about fishing.

    • hmmm, that’s a great analogy actually. Sometimes sales people just like selling and they can easily do it no matter where they go.

  7. Nice post Neil and also great blog, with a lot of useful informations.

    I’m also new in selling, so I have a question for you and for readers. Where can I find additional informations about selling and finding new clients. Any good book or on-line resource?

    • Kevin Davis follow up to his 5* on Amazon’s Best Sales Books “Slow Down, Sell Faster” will give you a perspective on where the customer is and how you adapt to that.

      Unfortunately, too many people give conflicting advice or try to offer tips, tricks. When, what you really need to understand is how to ask the right questions from the customer’s point of view, not from the sales reps’ or their companies perspectives.

    • Look at ” the little red book about sales” That’s a great place to start.

  8. @Andraz I’m reading plenty currently, mine is more for ‘big market’ selling (not one sale, but many sales, large deals):

    i) Spin selling
    ii) Sales Dogs
    iii) Whale Hunting

    If you google top 10 sales books, you can come up with other recommendations, those are the ones I sourced out myself.

  9. @Andraz Check out sellingpower.com for some good information.

    I have sold to OEM’s, “Big Box” stores, distribution groups and online retailers. I’m always willing to help with questions or advice when I have the time. Feel free to connect with me on facebook.com/steve.leamon

  10. recording studios uk :

    I’m 21 and run a web design business. This year I’m wanting to accomplish great things for my business. I usually read about 1 hour a day of other successful people such as biographies, quotes and so forth.It seems goal setting is one of the biggest secrets to success, such as setting goals and then getting them done. Do you believe this is true? Also what else do you believe plays a role in success?Thanks a lot.

    • I think goals are huge! You get what you think about most of the time. Those words were said by one of the sales legends, Earl Nightingale.

    • Having a goal is a must if you want to succeed in anything, not just business. There is no point in doing something without a purpose. If you have no purpose it means that you are not motivated to do that thing, and without motivation you loose interest in doing it.

  11. One more great post from you Neil. Your posts always share a great information about any damn topic. The point from your post which I like the most is “Selling is only half the battle”. You have explain it very nicely.

  12. Cool New Gadgets @ITrush :

    Love the picture, anyways nobody is perfect, we actually learn by our mistakes.. very interesting post.

  13. Very, VERY timely article… I am literally going through this right now, and while not being a very good sales person, I at least found my initial market, and know what I want in a sales person.

    THANK YOU! for verifying that Ia m actually on the right track!

  14. Nora McDougall-Collins :

    You are so right about the fact that sales people show know about their product. I bet many of them have never actually used their own products. Most of the “sales” people I meet are fun of it: full of themselves, full of themselves, and empty of true information.

    I was on a shuttle bus from the airport to the rental car agency in Albuquerque. One guy asked another what line of business he was in. “Solutions!” the guy said. I said, “It sounds like you don’t want to tell us what you do.” Everyone laughed.

    Lots of buzz words and no information.

    • I do think a lot of em are full of it, which is why it’s so important to hire slowly.

    • You are so right about the fact that sales people show know about their product. WHAT WHAT
      Most of the “sales” people I meet are fun of it: full of themselves, full of themselves, and empty of true information. WHAT WHAT WHAT

  15. Some other things to consider when looking at sales position candidates are:

    – likeness or similarities of products: Just because the salesperson is great selling “abc” doesn’t mean they can effectively sell “xyz”

    -Neil mentioned can the salesperson fit the corporate culture. This is important. The salesperson must also be willing to alter their sales approach if it differs from what they are doing currently.
    Great post and hilarious picture.

    Charles W. for WEALTHfaire

  16. Web Design Reno :

    Neil, I think it’s important to “sell” based on how your customer buys. For example, if my prospect is looking for a CMS so he can manage his own site, I don’t try to sell him on how awesome our web design is. I figure out what he’s looking for in a CMS, then sell him on our CMS features. I know the web design (or other add-ons) will come later. I think often times sales people try to sell based on what “they want to sell”, not what the customer wants to buy.

  17. Naste Magazine :

    Thats crazy you interviewd 31 candidates and none of them were up to scratch? You must have really high standards?

    I suppose if you can’t sell yourself then how are you going to sell a product.

    Nice post got some really good advice.

  18. @Web Design Reno I agree with you 100%. Many companies miss the opportunity to gain a new customer because they have their sales people pushing to make quota instead of focusing on the needs of the prospect…A dog running too fast can pass right over a bone.

    As you pointed out Neil, a sales person saying they brought in $1M for a company is not impressive if their sales were generated from leads being provided or repeat orders. They must be good at prospecting and building relationships with others within their industry that can open doors for them.

    It also helps if they are a bit crazy. I once took a guess at an executive’s email address so that I could introduce a product directly to him that I had been trying to push up his organization for months without success. That guess paid off and I gained a national account as a results.

    • Yeah, being an amazing sales person at one company really doesn’t mean much. Sometimes people stay at companies for acquire great databases which is why they do a lot of sales.

  19. Love it! One question remains for me. When selling to a certain department, is it better to contact C and VP Level executives. Or is it best to reach out to staff members first?

    • Jenny Feinheim :

      I would think C & VP level executives. Neil would probably know. I was also wondering if you could sell anything to sales department, even if the product or service is related to customer service. Could you say to sales department that by improving customer service it will make life easier for the sales team?

      • This is coming very handy! Thanks for the post Neil! Maybe you should write another post about best ways to reach key decision makers in a company. Especially when in a large company there are over 50 sales executives in a sales department. How do you know who to pitch it too? Or just go ahead and pitch to them all?

      • You can saell to the sales department, just not the sales people. So many be to sales director or manager.

    • The higher the better, but sometimes you need to get past the staff to get the higher level.

  20. It’s interesting to examine the psyche of a sales person. I come at it from a different perspective, because sales people are actually a large chunk of our target market. So I have to know where they’re coming from in order to serve THEIR needs. At the same time, they know a “sell” better than anyone (or at least you hope they do, right?)

    I definitely agree that you should sell your product. Anyone in our company, from the CEO down can be found on the sales lines. I think it’s the best way to keep tabs on customer needs and pain points.

  21. Could I get a link to your job posting, I’d like to see what you are looking for.

  22. Neil – I have read books on selling/sales etc., but this article pretty much sums it up for me. Kickass article – keep writing!

  23. Nice article and well summarized on the sales numbers… Just like statistics, right? You have to dive deep into the numbers before you can be sure of what they mean.

    Do you happen to have any tips for finding sales people for internet products or would you consider that internet marketers and go that route for sales?

    Thanks again!

    • No, internet marketers would be people who do seo type of marketing. Internet products or services can be sold by sales people.

  24. Great post Neal.

    You are a wise man for doing your research, asking the right questions and taking your time when looking for the right sales person.

    I’ve been in sales for the past 11 years, worked for Fortune 100 and small mom and pop shops. Sold super high ticket software and super low cost services so I can give you some good info on what to ask and what to look for if that helps. Just let me know.


  25. Commission Takeover :

    Sales is a tricky one, sales people vary from the over the top “I’m so happy and I can sell anything” to the quite obviously couldn’t care less attitude and in between you get the totally weird! Sales people do tend to be a very unique crowd. Getting the right person for the job is certainly not easy! Great post.

    • Yeah, you’re right, many of them are just out there. There are some really good ones, but they’re just difficult to find.

  26. Memorial park benches :

    Very nice.I would like to find a Marketing company that can handle the marketing of my Internet store. I know they have to be out there.Anyone have any names or websites that I can check.

  27. Find A Language Teacher :

    I had experience with several people who were pretty good at selling as long as they didn’t have to understand the service. They have done a good job when people exactly knew what they were looking for, but they couldn’t explain anything to those who didn’t understand the service. I spent months just training people about the service before sending them out on the road.

    • Training is a pretty crucial aspect to selling. The more knowledge a sales person has, the more sales they’ll make.

  28. At some point, product sell himself!
    I think that knowledge and understanding of the product you sell ,have a lot of influence by selling.
    Also to know the customers and their needs, the way how you can reach them.
    Btw, sometimes you have in your one company someone who do know the product, and have also feeling how to present it. Maybe you can find one really good.
    P.S. Keep your promises to the customer !
    Agian-great post,thx for sharing this 🙂

    • That’s super key. If a sales person can’t keep a promise to a client, they’re just asking for it and for the company.

  29. Currency Broker Pete :

    Hi Neil,

    I think at some point a little compromise might be required. The perfect sales person might not exist but it’s surely alright to choose someone who nearly fits the bill, or has potential. Otherwise you might be looking forever!



  30. Insurance Complaints :

    I completely agree with the process thing. From my experience, what I have learned is process and sales are equally important for customer delight. Would it makes any sense if an insurance company is too aggressive in sales but has a laid-back approach when it comes to policy-servicing?

  31. Janitorial Services :

    We are on the same page with this one Neil. Finding the right person to help push the company forward on all main fronts is extremely tough. But it does help if you your self, has some experience in what you hiring for. If you don’t, probably better to have someone who has, help with the hiring.

  32. Sales is a hard job and turnaround in companies is real quick. But it opens your eyes that some companies are just based on sales reps and cold calling.

    • It’s definitely a hard job, but as a sales person, if you find right company, that provides great performance based compensation, you’ll do really well .

  33. Johnny Optimist :

    Great article as always. At some point I will need a salesman and have always just figured – hire a salesman. I obviously need to think about it a bit more and I agree do some sales myself so I know what type of questions to ask and how to train the salesman – or how to change the product before I burn some poor sap out.

    • Yeah, it’s surprisingly a really long and tedious task. But at the end of the day, you do come across some great info.

  34. Hi Neil,

    Here is some interesting for you to check out.


  35. Memorial park benches :

    Really loving post.How can i sell my goods online too. Do i need to consult any internet marketing strategy consulting firm? Is that affordable?Thanks.

    • If you have an online product, do you sell only online (adwords, …), or do you use also an offline strategies, like calling people, sending sales letter, …?

    • You can use websites like ebay if you just want to sell some of your things. If you want to make a business and to sell your product online you need a website in the first place and then to learn some marketing or pay somebody else to do it for you if it’s easier.

      • True. Ebay or amazon can make you some money, but if you want to make bigger bucks, you’ll need to get on top of internet marketing.

  36. Sales is less about “sales” and more about building relationships. If you remember that, you can’t go far wrong!

  37. Does anyone know what is the best sales prospecting tool? I’ve tried Jigsaw and Sales Genie and I am not sure if I like it.

  38. well Neil Patel, you are superb as usual..truly excellent blog..
    i myself believe that Pay doesn’t matter in business…!!!

  39. Sales is not an easy one we have to concentrate on something to get it d0ne

  40. College Textbooks :

    There is a reason i never went into sales. I don’t like it and we all are really in sales, as we need to sell ourselves in the market place but still, I would hate to have to depend on a commission or something.

    • yeah but you just gotta change the way you look at it. You’re giving them a service and they’re paying you for it.

    • I am working in sales but I am working for myself. I don’t depend on any commission neither I have a fixed salary but I am doing much better than when I worked for somebody else. the thing is that you a lot more effort once you start working for yourself and you know that all the benefits will come to you.

      • College Textbooks :

        I think your right John, it would be easier to work for yourself and It would probably cause me to work even harder. You make a great point thanks.

        • It maybe “easier” but there’s a lot less discipline and that ends up being the demise of individuals who go on their own

          • You are right Neil. I can admit that I lack discipline since I am working on my own but I am doing much better then before starting to do it. I know that I have to improve myself, to make a schedule but it is hard and I am trying to accomplish it. I hope I will be able to do it at some point though 🙂

      • As long as your’re just cranking away at it, yeah you’re right, it should.

        • College textbooks :

          I have been fortunate enough to have been taught and help on to strong work ethics. Whether a company is mine or not, I try to act and treat everything as if it were. I always give 100% and admit when i don’t. I have no problem saying sorry I slacked but I always deliver above par. I really don’t understand how so many people just think they can sit at a desk and make money for nothing.

  41. Memorial park benches :

    What are you insinuating? I think you’re posting this in the wrong forum. Try Politics, Current Events or Military. Thanks…

  42. Steve Leamon :

    Neil I have really enjoyed following this discussion. As with any topic there is a wide variety of views and opinions and that is pretty much what a salesperson faces with each customer encounter….“How does the customer view me and what is their opinion of what I have to offer?”

    You can prepare for a cold call or meeting the way a fighter prepares before going into the ring. But how does he react when he starts getting his a@@ kicked? You want a salesperson that is at ease in any situation and who is capable of handling most of what the customer is throwing at them. But most sales are not closed during the first contact just like a fight is not usually won in the first round. You learn what you can from each encounter and use it to your advantage at the next.

    The most important thing is to earn the customer’s respect so that your calls are welcome. The top ranked salesperson or fighter does not always win. A lot of times the outcome is determined by how quickly they each react to every little thing that is taking place….focus, focus, focus!

  43. Hi Neil,

    I have a question for you. I am a sales person I read your article and I agree with it completely. But, I would like to know your thoughts about the importance of communication between the sales team and the Management of the business in terms of the direction to be taken to market or sell a product. I am asking you this because, it is my personal experience that sometimes the vision of the Management as to where the product is applicable and how to market it is different from the vision of the sales team. The only way this can be resolved is through a dialogue between the two teams and a sharing of ideas. But most of the time the management determines that the sales team is incompetent just because there is no sales in the area the company saw a potential in, and they are not willing to go through with the ideas of the sales team.
    How do you resolve such a situation?

    • Nora McDougall-Collins :

      That is such a great contribution to this discussion! EVERYONE in a business should be happy to talk to sales staff to give them clues and bits of information, to tell them about technical issues or benefits, background information whatever they need. And EVERYONE should be asking the sales staff questions to get clues as to what products and features people want, to get clues about client satisfaction, to get clues about how to make the process smoother for the sales staff.

      Always listen to the guy on the ground.

  44. Today to sell something must be very well prepared, as you prepare for any profession. Therefore, these tips of yours are very useful.

  45. Sales is not difficult at all if you know how to do it and you know what you are selling, and of course, if you trust the product you are selling. If you do those 3 things you will definitely be able to sell anything!

  46. A good read. Having been in sales I totally agree (at least for me) you totally need to have interest in what you sell especially when you are 100% commission. If you cant be excited about the product its going to show. My style was to sell the benefits not the product and it worked out well for me.

    • Yeah you do and it’s because you can easily and quickly get bored. And if that happens, you’ll find yourself completely miserable.

      • Getting bored can make things really miserable.. so one should always love the work whatever he is doing

        • Very true… if there isn’t even a little bit of interest or fun involved, it becomes much more difficult.

        • If you are doing your work without loving it you won’t be satisfied and you will end up quiting. If you love what you do the results will be greater and you will keep doing it.

  47. Eddie Gear- The Guy With An Attitude :

    Excellent write up Neil. I have been in sales and I know that It takes a lot of knowledge to convince someone to buy a product. Unless otherwise they hate your company.

    • It’s definitely not easy and take a ton of time. Patience is really important.

    • Knowing the product and the ability to convince people is what they need are the things that make the difference between making a sale or not. You can’t sell something that you have no idea about because you can’t explain the customers how can your product help them.

  48. latest entertainment news :

    How much we are doing sales that much we can earn and promote our product

  49. Hey Neil as you know I am a freelance web designer can you give some tips on how to do marketing in this field like how to increase sales……I know it’s tough one but still you can try to help me.

    • There are many avenues you can consider. Find your niche market and start from there. Content is very important, as well as site architecture. Have a product that people find useful and captivating.

    • First of all you have to know exactly what kind of people can become your customers. Than you have to market yourself so they can realize that you can help them. After a few customers is a lot easier because one happy customer will bring more customers.

  50. The image of the car salesman really gives the sales profession a positive look.

  51. Nima Heydarian :

    You know I am 100% with you on testing the waters before hiring.

    When I hire new employees (contractors) I always have them work on a smaller project first to see how honest , on-time, and hard working they are before committing them and myself on a large project.

    • That is the best strategy. You have to be assured of the quality of work before you can make an investment in someone.

      • Nima Heydarian :


        How do you handle lowering the hourly rate of the contractor after the first (small) project together?

        Im in a situation that I like the guy that is working for me. He is an honest hard working guy but what I pay him is more than what I should given his extend of skills.

        • That is a judgment call you will have to make. You would have to apply a cost-benefit analysis. To be honest, sometimes you have to maintain the hourly rate to ensure the quality of service.

  52. Business Consulting Buzz :

    Neil – great tips and article. The point on having a process is spot on. Without it inefficiency grows and people flounder. Keep them posts coming!

  53. Favourite Hobbies :

    Interesting way of doing sales business

  54. More experience I gain, more I start to realize how flawed the hiring process really is.

    Not to nock your post, I think you’ve outlined some really useful stuff, but imo, its not ideal.

    Here is how it works best, and unfortunately its the rarest of circumstances.

    Dont hire, instead, allow people to hire themselves.

    In other words, create a situation where a person is given an opportunity to become indispensable.

    Hard to find people like that? Maybe your problem is that you’re not selling something compelling enough. Maybe your company’s philosophy needs sprucing up.

    I know, I know…its hard to achieve, but boy, when you do, does it ever work.

    I liked your point about company culture and understanding the product. Both points are very important…and well put.

    • I like the input thanks. Great points..I like “allow people to hire themselves.” thanks for reading!

  55. Favourite Hobbies :

    we should have updated knowledge about the market so that we can do business

  56. Tariq Khan - Quantum SEO :

    The concept of “hire carefully and fire fast” reminds me about hearing about a car dealership which used to fire one salesman per month (obviously the one with the least sales). Very cutthroat and merciless, but that is quickly becoming an acceptable standard in the market for some reason. I guess that ensures the highest possible level of competition and performance on behalf of the sales representative. Even if it is based on grown men who have families to support being scared every single month for their job…

  57. Buyers are far more educated today than even 5 years ago thanks to the internet. The key is personality. Product knowledge is obviously important but not always needed if you can get the person relaxed enough to feel like spending money.

  58. criminal defense attorney colorado springs :

    I think sales is more of an art and an inborn ability than a skill. If a salesperson can’t sell his services to you then he has no right to be hired, because this is the first deal that he is going to make for your company.

    • That is a good point. If they can’t sell you on them, then they are probably going to have a difficult time selling your product.

  59. Any one can sell. but not every one can be the best at selling and these people have the natural talent to start with.

    Selling is all about learning, the sales people who always hit target are always developing themselves, trying something new, fresh and outside the box.

    Selling is such a rare talent that gets confused with people who tell/push customers, they are not selling because the customer didn’t actually want it. To sell something the customer must truly want what you are selling but you must help them by understanding who you are talking to and what USP will be the true need for the customer to buy that product.

    Always lead your customer gently never let them feel pushed just nicely helped on there way to a sale. 😉

    I could spend I lifetime talking about all the different areas to sales and I am so passionate about it 13 years on.

    Every great sales person has a good story of how they got into sales. ask them in a interview its nice

    I would be happy to help any one or talk about different ideas to selling neouk2001@hotmail.com

  60. It’s definitely helpful to target a niche.

    I could barely focus on the article for reading your impressive “about” to the side. You’re definitely great at what you do!

    – Margaret

  61. shapes for kids :

    Sales are definitely my weakest point. I am far to be a good sales person. I love the creation of the products but when it comes to the sale part i always feel that somehow i can not communicate on an effective way the benefits of the products. Any suggestions on that?

  62. Great article, we are currently looking at hiring a sales person as it has become very time consuming to try and sell and implement the software. This is another thing that has to be considered. I’m very familiar with the software we sell and we have the best tools to work with “NetSuite” software which we sell :-). The problem is finding the leads and the time to follow up with the leads. If anyone knows a good sales person for software we would be very interested in talking to them.
    By the way if you are looking for a good software package to manage your sales team, send me an email bpritchett@suiteskies.com.

  63. Nakita Stoodley :

    Can I simply say what a relief to seek out someone who truly is aware of what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know methods to carry a problem to light and make it important. Extra people have to learn this and perceive this side of the story. I cant imagine youre not more common because you definitely have the gift.

    • hay Neil
      i m bilal from paki
      i m working sales job but unfortunaitly i have no confidence about my job plz favour me

  64. hey neil,
    great post. thank you so much for your advices.definitely follow these.



  65. I used to work for other people but now I am working for myself and I can tell you that there is no point in selling something that you don’t know anything about because you won’t be able to convince the buyers that it is the right thing for them.

  66. “Pay doesn’t matter
    I don’t care if a sales person wants $50,000 or $250,000 a year. Although you may think that you are getting a better sales person if you end up paying more, it isn’t always the case.”

    This is absolutely wrong because a proper sales person will never last for long in a company to get the business profit required or can be achieved if the working conditions and the pay is not right or high as a good sales person need first to know the system of the company he works for and what the company looks for in a customer, what the customer looks for from the company he works for and how to combine his skills to satisfy the two the company that pays his wages and the customer that he can generate the business from for the reasons below. A good salesman:
    1- Always in demand and knows his potential
    2- Arrogant and brilliant at cut off nose to spite face so don’t think by paying peanuts he is going to stay for long that is if he accepts the job
    3- Always thinks and knows he can run whatever business he is in form his back garden and some actually do and most succeed
    4- Gambler and risk taker due to the adaptable personality so he will risk everything for what he believes for and against and can take on the world as his mentality believes in “NOTHING TO LOSE ATTITUDE”
    5- Is a high risk to any company if not paid well or/and treated right as the customer buys from him not from the company so don’t think by not paying the right amount you are going to keep them customers
    This is a small amount of examples what this article is wrong from a salesperson point of view.

    • Thanks for sharing your insights. These additional tips will definitely help out any struggling our aspiring sales person.

  67. Sounds like you need to stop looking for a sales person, and start looking for a great recruiter. You wasting everybody time, not least own going through all these interviews.

    What do you really need this person to do? and what would constitute a success in 1 or 3 years time?
    Maybe understand your products
    Have a contact list xyz market

    Then look at proof of successfully doing this in the past.

    Hope that is helpful, I am an engineering manager and would never interview more than a handful of candidates for a role, and if I did not know exactly what I need I would ask for help.

    You need help!


  68. So basically you wasted the time of 31 people because you’r to picky. There’s also this thing called “employee development.” Working in sales for years, I’ve seen some of the most unlikely sales staff become legends in their own right. If your firing fast it’s because you don’t know how to develop. Next topic- how to be a better employer.

  69. Milton, glad I could help 🙂

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  77. 31 people? What a waste of time. You really should have evaluated your recruitment methods sooner as they’re very ineffective. Using a good recruiter, you will be able to make a selection from a lineup of between 4 and 6
    Candidates at first stage interview.

    • Gemma,thanks for the advice and feedback. I really like to review as many candidates as possible to give everyone a chance and to make sure I find the best candidate.

  78. hrh spending :

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  79. I’m an ultra successful salesman in a retail telecommunications sales environment. I work 20 hours a week and wipe the floor with full time eployees, most of whom take advantage of overtime. My specialty is strategic value, i.e tablets and mobile broadband. I’ve made this my focus based on commission requirements. Ultimately, I can sell anything I choose to focus on. I was also a top sales rep for a software company wherein I used cold calling in order to sell SAAS. More specifically, I sold a custom CRM that was absolutely not competitively priced. I closed more often than not when face to face with a prospect. In addition, I built websites for business owners in the Healthcare industry, including doctors who owned their own practice and pharmaceutical reps who wanted a greater online presence. I know what it takes to succeed in inside sales, outside sales and selling myself.

    I wanted to make sure that this community is aware of my experience so that what I say next can truly be taken to heart…

    The two most important skills when it comes to sales have to do with personality. Those skills are the ability to empathize and a natural enjoyment of closing a sale. The lack, or even a weakness of one of those two skills, leaves the client with one of two thoughts: The salesperson has no passion for the sale, and therefor either the product or the company is to blame, or worse, the client is distrustful of the salesperson.

    With those two skills, a salesperson can hold an open, intriguing conversation with the client. They can put themselves in the client’s shoes and truly feel what the client feels, allowing for the most perfect connection. This type of connection is more powerful than a book on the daily life of the client. Once the connection is made, passion for the product, service or simply the passion for the sale will lead to a close.

    Thanks for reading,

    • Bekk, thanks for sharing all your experiences and I have no doubt that you are a stellar salesman.

      I agree with your assessment on the two most important skills. Being able to empathize is what I think is the most important — you really have to put yourself in the shoes of another person — that’s where conversations really flourish.

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