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How to choose the right salesperson for your new business

Good sales are the bedrock or any new business, so finding the right salesperson is key to success

You’re planning to buy a business and you’ve found the one you want. You have great plans for it. You’re determined to increase the revenue and therefore the sales. So you need a new salesperson – or you need to determine which members of the current sales team you wish to keep on.

Choosing the right sales people is important – particularly when you consider that the latest research from Caliper Corp states that 55% of the sales workforce lack the qualities required to succeed.

So how do you find your sales champion?

According to Shweta Jhajharia, founder of Growth Idea, there are three essential qualities of a successful sales person:
•    Your salesperson should have a big ego/self-esteem 
•    They should have empathy 
•    They should be able to tell a story

In order to identify these you need to ask them the right questions during their interview:

1. How are they built?

•    Describe instances in your upbringing that have forged you into the person you are today.

•    In your life right now, either personal or career-wise, what are you having the most difficulty with?

•    What have you learned from your parents or guardians?

If they're smart and a good salesperson, they'll ensure the stories are centred on their strengths – showing their confidence and ego. The lessons they’ve learned will give insight into their empathy.

2.  What are their accomplishments?

•    Was there a time in your life when, despite everything seemingly against you, you still succeeded and achieved great results?

•    Are there any other areas in your life where you have made significant achievements? Any sports or hobbies?

•    What are the top four things you're proud of?

The answers to these questions will show achievement levels as well as their level of confidence around those achievements.

3.  How do they measure up?

•    Who is the best salesperson you've ever met? What differentiates you from them?

•    Can you tell me a few authors or educators that you have read or that you follow? Who would you consider as one of your mentors?

The best answer you can get from the first question is "Me." If they answer anyone else, the second half will give insight into where they feel their "room to grow" is.

The next question will not only reveal their accomplishments, but also their dedication to their own education. 

4.  Do they have empathy?

•    What are your best memories?

•    If I brought your best friend into this interview, what would they say about you?

•    Who in your life is your biggest fan? Why?

These questions give the candidate the opportunity to display their strengths and good qualities. If they can't sell themselves, how are they going to sell for you?

5. Does their CV show good judgement?

•    What were your last three last positions?  What made you leave each of these jobs?

•    In any of these, were you unhappy? What was the issue?

•    In any of your jobs listed here, did you ever disagree with your boss? What happened?

•    Describe two flaws you found in your previous bosses.

•    Describe two flaws that some of your bosses have pointed out about you.

You want to figure out how they behave at work, what their reasoning is, and see how they face situations that are typically difficult in the boss-staff relationship.

6.  Do they have an ego?

This step will separate out the best of the best: tell them that they're not a champion.

Don't be gentle here. Be polite but firm. However, don't be aggressive and definitely don’t act judgemental. 

Many salespeople just cave and accept this; they pack up and leave! But champions stick around and challenge you. 

The best response is: "Why is it that you think that?" This is the ultimate question they can throw back at you because they are proving their salesmanship: when faced with a hesitation, ask a question, find out the problem and then solve the problem.

By following these interview steps you will sort the wheat from the chaff and find your true sales champion for your new business.


Shweta Jhajharia, Principal Coach and founder of Growth Idea, is a multi- award-winning business coach, recognised both by external bodies and the industry awards panels as the top coach in the UK. Despite competitive economy, her clients across sectors consistently achieve measurable double digit growth (over 41%) and are the most awarded client base in UK. 

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Shweta Jhajharia

About the author

Shweta Jhajharia is a partner and principal coach in Europe’s largest Business Coaching firm in ActionCOACH. She is a multi-award winning Business Coach and has been awarded the “London Coach of the Year” consistently since 2009.


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