Finding sales reps is a two-fold problem.
First, there are few academic professional sales training programs, so entry level hires must be trained in the art and science of sales.
Second, when recruiting experienced hires, a hiring manager can never be sure how much of the sales training as been absorbed.
In solving the first problem of finding sales reps, the key is finding people the possess the key characteristics of innate curiosity, affability, and resiliency. Good retail sales people have many of these characteristics. As well when recruiting retail sales people it is often easy to watch them from a distance and judge their abilities from a far over a period of time. Often visiting the same coffee shop can result in finding qualified candidates.
For example if your usual barista remembers your name, order, can make idle chit chat while happily plying their trade, ask them if they’d like a ‘white collar’ job.
In solving the second issue of hiring experienced sales reps, there are a couple of rules of thumb to follow. First, one should take pause at any rep that moves more often than once every two or three years. Second, one should take notice at the company’s that a rep has been part of. If they have been always part of explosive growth companies, was the rep’s success their own or the company’s? Likewise, if the rep was part of poorly performing companies, was their poor performance due to their lack of ability or a lack of sales maturity on the part of the company? Both situations should be evaluated to determine the rep’s fitness and ability to thrive in your particular sales environment.
A final consideration when looking to hire an experienced sales rep is the type of sales rep they have been.
Were they an order taker?
A sales hunter? A farmer?
Each has it advantages and disadvantages. For example a sales farmer, great at uncovering needs and pain, may be incapable of aggressively hunting for new leads that aren’t warm. On the flip side, a sales hunter may be too gruff to work partnerships.