Continuing to Hire Unfit Sales Professionals? Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes When Choosing Candidates

By Shane Cotner

As a hiring manager or HR Professional, your company is counting on you to make sure that the candidates that you’re choosing to fill open sales positions, deliver on the promises they may make in their interviews. After all, the cost of training adds up, and a high turnover rate will have a significant impact on any company’s bottom line.

Even the most experienced hiring managers and HR reps will sometimes choose an unqualified candidate. When this happens, it is typically because they made one of three common mistakes during the interviewing process. Fortunately, these oversights, errors, or hasty mistakes can be easily prevented, so it doesn’t need to happen more than once. Here is a look at three common mistakes that are made that lead to unfit candidates being chosen, along with how to prevent this from happening in the future.

1. Your Interview Questions Are Predictable, Instead of Thought Provoking

One of the easiest ways to ensure that almost any sales candidate will glide through their interview, is through using generic interview questions. Any candidate seeking a sales position will be well prepared for questions such as: What are your greatest strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why are you the right person for this sales position? Do you work better as a team player or as an individual?

These questions are perfectly fine, they just don’t tell the whole story. Nearly all job candidates will be expecting these questions, and will therefore likely have canned responses. So, instead of asking such routine, predictable questions, ask specific questions, including how a candidate would handle a specific work related scenario.

2. Choosing a Sales Candidate Based on Numbers/Experience Over Fit with Company Culture

Company culture is of utmost importance to job seekers in today’s market-particularly millennials. In fact, having a thriving company culture is often vital to even attract the top sales candidates in the first place. In addition, having a vibrant company culture plays an integral role in retaining your top sales reps. So, ensuring that a candidate is going to fit well with your culture, is crucial. After all, sales numbers only tell part of the story.

Smart hiring managers will be sure to confirm what a candidate wants from their work environment, before offering a position based on numbers alone. The hiring manager will need to confirm with a candidate that they will be able to abide by company work hours, mandatory meetings, management style, or other company policies. In other words, having experience, and a track record of successful sales numbers is important, but only if the candidate also fits in with the overall company culture.

3. Trying to Save Time Through Offering a Short Interview Process

As a hiring manager, or HR Professional, there’s little doubt that at some point in your career, you’ll feel pressured to just fill a position, quickly. But, it’s worth remembering that more often than not, slow and steady will win the race. Trying to hurry along the

interview process leaves all kinds of room for oversights, such as neglecting reference/background checks, or not verifying important information. Although a long interview process may be off-putting to some candidates, those who truly want to be a part of your team, will show their loyalty and understand your need for a longer process.

At Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting, we understand you need the best sales managers and sales reps on your team to achieve and exceed your monthly, quarterly and annual sales goals. In today’s ever competitive market, sales companies simply can’t afford the costs associated with hiring unfit candidates. So, remember to avoid these common mistakes when interviewing for a new sales professional, or even better, invoke the services of a professional, experienced sales recruiting company to ensure you attract and retain, top quality sales reps and sales managers.

Shane Cotner is a is a professional sales recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or email

Sales Rep Reviews: Tips for Providing First Rate Performance Reviews

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By Adam Vortherms

As a Sales Manager or HR Manager charged with providing performance reviews of your sales professionals, your reps are counting on you to conduct a fair, thoughtful, and helpful analysis of their work. From recognizing strengths, to providing constructive criticism, Sales Managers and HR Managers need to know how to conduct sales rep reviews that will leave team members encouraged and inspired to continually improve.

The following best practices should be used by Sales Managers or HR Managers so that your sales pros receive reviews that make them want to keep shooting for the stars.

  • Inform and Educate
    Make sure your sales rep is aware of how their performance will be evaluated. This includes educating them on the specific criteria which is being used to assess their performance.
  • Create an Atmosphere Conducive to Open Communication
    Setting a tone of collaboration, where your sales rep knows that the review isn’t a lecture, but is instead a discussion, will open the lines of communication.  This is particularly beneficial to sales reps who have questions or concerns, but may otherwise be afraid to ask or address them.  By making it known that this review is a two-way discussion, you’re liable to get your reps to open up and share their ideas or ask questions freely.
  • Encourage Self Evaluation
    By urging your sales professionals to honestly examine and evaluate their own performance, your reps have the opportunity to illuminate their strengths and weaknesses as they see them.  This way, a collaborative plan for improvement can be created.
  • Keep It Concise, Direct, Factual and Detail Oriented
    Performance reviews are not a time for generalizations.  Cite specific examples of areas needing improvement, or recognize specific accomplishments, goals achieved, etc.  This will demonstrate your personal attention and dedication to helping them build upon existing strengths, thereby reaching new levels of success.
  • Choose and Document Your Words Carefully
    It is vital that all points discussed in a performance review are documented. It is also crucial that you pay attention to the language you use in documentation, to ensure that the words cannot be misconstrued should an employee file a grievance.
  • Stay Focused on Setting Goals
    The desired outcome of any performance review is to establish new goals for your sales rep.  New benchmarks could be clearly spelled out, so that expectations are understood and agreed upon.  All newly created goals should be documented and discussed thoroughly before the review is finished.

At Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting, we understand how crucial it is to have the very best sales managers and sales reps on your team in order to reach your sales goals. As part of your strategy for attracting and retaining the best sales professional in the business, you’ll need to make sure that you put personal attention into each performance review you provide.

If you’re in need of top sales reps or sales managers to join your team, contact us today. Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting helps businesses from diverse industries to maximize sales, through providing premier sales recruitment services.

Adam Vortherms is a recruiting manager at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Visit , call 952.856.2371 or email

Finding The Sales Manager You Need: 4 Reasons a Top Sales Recruiter Makes This Task Simpler and More Successful

Sales manager on blackboard with businessman on side

By Andy Wright

In order for your sales team to succeed, it’s vital that your sales manager’s leadership skills are second-to-none. That means you can’t afford to go without a sales manager who exemplifies your company’s commitment to excellence, best practices, ongoing education, and product knowledge. But finding a top sales manager who has these invaluable skills can prove challenging, as these in-demand professionals aren’t likely to be idly sitting around, surfing job boards. Instead, they are liable to be leading a successful sales team for another organization.

So, what can HR Professionals or Hiring Managers do to find, and attract top sales managers? The answer: engage the services of a top sales recruiting company to make this process simpler, and more importantly, successful. Here are four reasons top sales recruiters make finding the sales manager you need to take your business to new heights, much easier.

1. Top Sales Recruiting Companies Are Pro-Active

Top sales recruiting companies go far beyond surfing job boards or posting ads on various sites to attract top sales managers. Instead, the best sales recruiters are working tirelessly day after day to identify and reach out to passive candidates (who are not actively seeking work). This gives you the best chance of recruiting a truly remarkable sales manager, even if they’re not coming to you. Top sales recruiting companies go after the sales superstars, rather than waiting for them to come to us.

2. Top Sales Recruiting Companies Use a Consultative Approach

Top recruiting professionals will make the lives of HR Professionals or hiring managers much easier, by going above and beyond to ensure you find the best sales manager for your team. Using a consultative approach, top sales recruiters will act as advisors in helping you to first develop your ideal candidate profile. In addition, skilled, reputable sales recruiters will also serve in a consultancy role to help you to determine appropriate and attractive compensation plans. Finally, they will help you to devise a targeted list of industries from which to begin the process of identifying and recruiting top sales managers.

3. Top Sales Recruiting Companies Ensure That You’ll Get an “A” Candidate

Companies willing to invest in their recruitment efforts through engaging the experience and expertise of a top sales recruiting company, ensure that they’ll have access to the greatest selection of “A” candidates, in lieu of settling for “B” candidates and hoping for the best. The ROI companies will realize by recruiting an “A” sales manager, as opposed to a mediocre sales manager will prove significant in the long term.

4. Top Sales Recruiters Will Save Your Staff Time and Save You Money

Companies who put the responsibility of recruiting a top sales manager on the HR department or hiring manager’s plate stand to lose a lot of time and money. Time spent by in-house employees trying to locate the best potential sales manager candidates will prove to take away from their time spent focusing on their key responsibilities and core competencies. These lost hours, can become quite costly. By contrast, partnering with a top sales recruiting company to find you the best match for your needs as quickly as possible, will save money and time, in the short and long term. After all, top sales recruiters spend all day, every day immersed in the business of recruiting.

When it comes time to find a sales manager who will inspire, motivate, mentor, and manage your team of sales reps, there is no better ally to have on your side than an experienced sales recruiter. At Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting our team of experienced sales recruiters are here to make the process of identifying, attracting, and retaining top sales managers stress-free, and successful, so that your sales goals can be met and exceeded for months and years to come.

Andy Wright is the owner and an active recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Andy began his recruiting career in 2003, and has a proven track record of helping companies both large and small increase sales team retention and productivity through recruiting top talent. Prior to launching Grapevine in December of 2011, Andy held key leadership positions for two Twin Cities-based recruiting firms, training and managing teams of recruiters while developing new business and managing national account relationships. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or email

Hiring Sales Reps in The New Year: An Interview Checklist for 2017

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By Adam Vortherms

It’s no secret that sales companies do a lot of hiring at the start of the New Year. With that in mind, here is a valuable checklist Hiring Managers can refer to, in order thin the herd of candidates, come hiring time in January.

  1. Did the sales candidate come prepared?

Readiness is a sign that a sales candidate takes this opportunity seriously—a good omen for a future hire. Did the candidate come prepared to professionally engage with your hiring team? Did he or she bring a hard copy of their resume or portfolio? Did they dress appropriately and professionally? Do they show a basic understanding and knowledge of your company and your goals? Well-prepared candidates are easy to spot—they are more engaged and can directly relate their own experiences to your expectations and goals.

  1. Did the sales candidate ask appropriate questions?

At the end of most interviews, most Hiring Managers will likely ask potential candidates whether they have any questions. Oftentimes, this prime opportunity for a candidate to show preparedness and interest in a company is sorely missed. The wise candidate will ask questions to signal to Hiring Managers that they’ve thoughtfully considered the position they’ve applied for, with queries along the lines of: What’s the company culture like? Are there opportunities for growth? What’s typical management style?

  1. Did the sales candidate relate their own professional experience to the role he or she is applying for?

The most successful sales job candidates are ones who can specifically and concretely relate their prior professional experiences to what’s required in the potential position. Any candidate can profess to have a host of positive attributes—hardworking, dedicated, etc.—but thoughtful candidates won’t stop there. Instead, they’ll use examples from their professional experience to demonstrate said attributes, and prove how they will help your company to reach your sales goals. Even if their prior experience isn’t directly related to your specific industry, top sales rep candidates can still illustrate strong sales acumen by relaying past successes.

  1. Is the candidate someone I would buy from personally?

This is often the x-factor that pushes successful sales candidates over the edge compared to their competition. A long list of prior experiences pales when the candidate comes off as unlikable or as someone you wouldn’t want to work with on a daily basis. Use the interview to assess the candidate’s personality and likeability—are they making an effort to connect on a personal level? Are they displaying the right mood and temperament for an interview setting? Do they seem genuine and trustworthy? Is the sales candidate a good listener, as well as a likeable conversation partner? After all, people buy from people they like and trust.

At Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting, we understand how crucial it is to have the very best sales managers and sales reps on your team in order to reach your sales goals.  If you’re in need of recruiting top sales performers to join your team in 2017, contact us today. Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting helps companies across all industries to maximize sales, through providing a comprehensive and selective recruitment process to ensure that an outstanding sales professional is available to you for hiring.

Adam Vortherms is a recruiting manager at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Visit , call 952.856.2371 or email

What Your Potential Sales Rep’s Social Media May Reveal: A Guide for Hiring Managers

Recruiting potential candidates. What to look for on their social media accounts.

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By Samantha Neumann

60% of employers use social media as a means to screen potential job candidates, according to the recently released 2016 Social Media Recruitment Survey conducted by After polling some 2,000 hiring managers and Human Resources professionals, along with over 3,000 American workers, the study found that the majority of those responsible for bringing in new talent spend a significant amount of time scoping out social media pages for insight into a candidate’s digital life. Case in point: 49% of hiring managers and HR professionals reported that what they found on a candidate’s social media pages actually caused them to pass on the potential employee.

So, what’s the merit of a using social media to screen a potential sales rep or sales manager? Frankly, in this day and age, there’s a variety of meaningful information to be gleaned from a candidate’s online life. What might not be apparent on a sales rep’s resume or in an interview setting can be readily discovered by doing a quick online sweep. Make no mistake though, screening social media is not just about digging up dirt on a candidate. On the contrary, searching social media can corroborate an applicant’s professional qualifications and allow hiring managers to screen for future sales success.

In fact, results from the survey revealed: “Most hiring managers aren’t intentionally looking for negatives. Six in ten employers who currently use social networking sites to research job candidates (60 percent) are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job.”

This begs the question:  If you’re a hiring manager or HR professional in charge of bringing in sales superstars, why wouldn’t you use a candidate’s digital presence to best understand the potential of a new team member?

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you review social media pages of sales candidates:

1. Look for Posts That Showcase Personality

If you’re in charge of hiring for a business where fitting into the company culture is a big plus, then scoping out a sales candidate’s profile to get a sense of their interests, tastes, and personality can go a long way in determining if he or she will fit well with the rest of your sales team.

2. Watch for Red Flags

Social media can be indispensably informative when it comes to weeding out candidates who’ve posted inflammatory or discriminatory material online. A candidate is not likely to divulge questionable behavior during an interview, but it may be apparent on his or her social media pages. This sort of background sweep can save you a lot of headaches in the future.

3. Check in on Communication Skills

How a sales professional presents him or herself on social media conveys more than just hobbies and personality, it can also reveal clues to a person’s communication skills. Sales candidates who convey a professional image in their online presence are likely to represent your company well.

4. Confirm the Facts

Lastly, social media sites can provide incredible access to previous employers to verify the material that a potential sales rep has listed on their resume or portfolio. This is necessary, because according to a 2015 CareerBuilder study of 2,000 HR professionals and hiring managers, an incredible 56% of higher managers found lies on candidates’ resumes.  To prevent falling prey to fraudulent resumes, a quick online confirmation, particularly through sites such as can help you easily weed out unqualified candidates who resume pad and would otherwise waste your time.

All in all, scanning the social media pages of a candidate for a sales position in your company, can be a valuable tool in a hiring manager’s arsenal when hunting for the perfect person to fill a position. As the influence of technology becomes more deeply engrained in our hiring processes, hiring managers and HR professionals can put the internet to good use in making wise, well-informed, and confident hiring decisions.

If you’re looking to recruit outstanding sales performers to join your team in 2017, contact us today. Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting has helped countless companies take their business to the next level by providing a painstakingly selective recruitment process to ensure that an outstanding sales professional is available to you for hiring.

Samantha Neumann is a professional sales recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Visit , call 952.856.2371 or email

Should You Be Looking for Sales Pros from Other Industries?  5 Reasons it May Be in Your Best Interest

businesss and office concept - two businessmen shaking hands inBy: Andy Wright

When searching for top sales talent, it can make a critical difference to think outside the box. That’s why hiring managers should not only mine their own business and industry for talent that’s worth promoting, but to also make sure that they (or their sales recruiting company partner) seek out sales pros from different industries who can meaningfully add to the value and performance of the company.

Let’s take a look at a few key reasons why outside sales hires from alternate industries sometimes makes the most sense when searching for the best sales talent.

  • Pure Talent vs. Technical Knowhow

Hiring a salesperson within your industry may seem like a good bet: existing knowledge, less training required (maybe), and what seems like a sensible choice. But a track record of sales success is a much better indicator of achievement than rote technical proficiency. Look for salespeople who lead their industry and chances are they’ll be able to translate that success at your company, too.

  • A Diversified Book of Business

Hiring a sales rep who sells a different product or service than your company—but to the same or similar customers—is an excellent way of hiring outside your industry. Not only do you land a sales pro who has a solid sales track record, but one who also has a strong book of business/database of contacts that can boost your business.

  • Positive Perception

A company that hires outside their industry shows a creativity and foresight that some of the most exciting companies swear by, including tech giants like Google and Facebook. Attracting top sales talent from other industries is all about signaling a forward-thinking, modern perspective that fosters talent wherever it’s derived.

  • A Fresh Set of Eyes

Sometimes it takes an outsider to recognize inefficiency or spearhead positive change. When hiring managers seek sales talent in outside industries, they are bringing in far more than a top-performer—they’re also getting a fresh set of eyes that can offer an innovative perspective.

  • Far Fewer Limits

Though the frequent hope is that new hires from the same field might bring clients and customers with them, the legal minefield of non-compete agreements and customer block out times could hinder these types of hires. By looking outside your industry for capable sales talent, you are saving valuable time and effort in cultivating candidates who won’t bring legal woes with them.

Although there are clear benefits to hiring sales professionals from other industries, it’s imperative that only companies with a strong onboarding/training program opt to go this route.  Before hiring sales reps from outside industries, take the time to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of your in-house training program in order to understand if an outside hire is right for your company. When in doubt, rely on your trusted sales recruiting company partner to help you determine your best pool of candidates.

Andy Wright is the owner and an active recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. 

Andy began his recruiting career in 2003, and has a proven track record of helping companies both large and small increase sales team retention and productivity through recruiting top talent.  Prior to launching Grapevine in December of 2011, Andy held key leadership positions for two Twin Cities-based search firms, training and managing teams of recruiters while developing new business and managing national account relationships. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or

Hiring Without a Strategy Will Kill Your Company


Your business is doing well — your customer base is booming, your product’s popularity is soaring, and the world is your oyster … except your company can’t keep up.

If you are in high-growth mode, you’re going to need more people. At the same time, the competition for talent has never been fiercer. That means incredible pressure for companies today to hire as many people as they can, as quickly as they can to lock prospects down before anyone else snaps them up.

Don’t make that mistake. We all know, theoretically, that making a bad hire sets companies back. Simply put, a bad hire (someone who lacks the skills or drive to get the job done, or is not a fit with your culture) won’t move you forward and in fact may move you backwards. But most companies have no idea the impact of a single bad hire has on their business. Believe it or not, data shows that the average cost of a bad hire is up to five times that person’s annual salary!

That’s a pretty sobering statistic, but in the midst of a company growth spurt when the pressure’s on, it’s easy to default to making the first hire instead of the right one. You may think, “So what if we make a few bad hires? — we’ll take care of it later.” The problem with that approach is that bad hires almost never end up having zero impact — they have negative impact instead.

The Real Cost of Bad Hires

Most mangers think that if they hire quickly and fill a role, then they’ve plugged a hole. People think, “Someone’s better than no one, and even if they turn out to be a bad hire we’ll just replace them.”

In reality this plays out as follows:

  • It takes you six months to truly figure out that the person is a bad hire.

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Winning Sales Hiring Game Plan: Reasons to Conduct a “Ride Along” or “Shadow Day” With Potential Sales Rep Candidates

ShadowOnce you (or your trusted sales professional recruiting firm) has waded through resumes, and completed preliminary interviews to identify only the best pool of candidates for your sales position, the proverbial finish line is well within sight. Congratulations!

However, before you completely cross that finish line, it’s worth considering going the “extra mile” to ensure that the candidate you’re prepared to hire is indeed going to be a strong addition to your team. Fortunately, this last leg of the journey isn’t anything close to having to run an extra mile. In fact, it’s more akin to an extra 50-yard dash. But since you’re filling an instrumental role, it’s worth the few extra steps.

In this case, we’re talking about hosting your potential sales representative on a “ride-along” or “shadow day.” In other words, you’ll be giving your potential candidate a hands-on trial run at the position for which he or she is being vetted. Conducting a ride-along or shadow day will give you metaphorical courtside seats, as to how the potential sale rep or sales manager handles day-to-day tasks and interactions, the types of ideas he or she contributes, and how the candidate might fit into the overall environment and workflow of your business.

Of course, a shadow/ride-along day is best conducted after a final interview is complete and you are convinced that the remaining candidate(s) will be the right fit for your sales position. This is particularly true, if you’re recruiting a passive candidate, as they may need to take a few hours off, from their current position.

All the same, in addition to allowing existing team members, sales managers and the potential candidate to have the chance to experience a future day-in-the life of their new sales position, shadow days and ride-along days are useful for several other practical reasons including:

  • Providing an opportunity for an in-the-field sales trial

Providing a ride-along experience for your potential sale rep provides them with the opportunity to spend time in the field with a top producing and/or senior sales rep—allowing the candidate to get a true sense of the day-to-day responsibilities that are required in the position, as well as the types of customers your business serves.

  • Learning how the day-to-day office duties are performed

Inviting a potential sales rep or manager to spend a few hours shadowing the office allows him or her to:

  • See how inside sales are performed
  • Become familiar with other positions within your company and how hierarchy and collaboration is structured
  • Understand daily workflow and processes
  • Become generally familiar, or reacquainted with regularly utilized software
  • Get a feel for incoming and outgoing calls
  • Interact with various potential-coworkers, seeing how he or she fits in among them


  • Assessing a candidate’s contributions and potential

While the candidate gets the opportunity to understand the office’s inner workings; the employer also has the chance to assess the candidate’s interactions, contributions, and overall fit with other employees and within the company. Does the candidate ask thoughtful questions? Does the candidate contribute to a positive and productive professional atmosphere? Does the candidate share insight and ideas? Does the candidate take instruction well?

A shadow-day or ride-along day can be useful not only for employers but also for potential top sales candidates as well. A few hours of shadowing can confirm the potential you see within a candidate or alert you to qualities and characteristics you might not have assessed in the traditional interview setting. Either way, both the employer and the candidate will win, in their own way.

Andy Wright is the owner and an active recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Andy began his recruiting career in 2003, and has a proven track record of helping companies both large and small increase sales team retention and productivity through recruiting top talent.  Prior to launching Grapevine in December of 2011, Andy held key leadership positions for two Twin Cities-based search firms, training and managing teams of recruiters while developing new business and managing national account relationships. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or


It’s Official: Millennials Are Now the Largest Part of the U.S. Workforce

Young people working in the officeBy

According to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures, Gen Y has officially edged out Gen X in 2015 to nab the largest share of the workforce, making up 35 percent of all U.S. workers with Gen X, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists trailing at 34, 29, and 2 percent, respectively.

Currently 1 in 3 American workers are Millennial-aged, and as the Boomer Exodus continues, they will inexorably become the most dominant segment of workers.

Most recently Gen X held that honor, peaking at 84 percent of the labor force in 2008.

No longer outliers

Much ink has been spilt over Gen Y’s motivations, ambitions, character, and of course, how to engage them. By now a large body of research has been collected, and we are seeing with our own eyes how Millennials are working, adapting, and changing the business landscape.

They are no longer outliers; they are “large and in-charge,” and they are setting the bar for how companies relate to their employees.

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Old-School Recruiters Don’t Just Email, We Cold Call and Make Placements


Okay, I admit it. I plan on increasing my exposure to, use of and budget for social media and SEO for my search and placement firm next years. But do I, or will I ever consider these burgeoning technology tools to be my primary source of business? Heck no!

Further, I think it’s about time that someone with authority speaks out about how we, as a profession, are being inundated with advice from every industry trainer and publication on how to increase our billings by paying attention to the latest and greatest way to leverage the internet. And I can’t think of anyone better than me to do it.

So, as a certified Old Fogey with more than three decades of experience as a practitioner of the art/science of executive recruitment, I feel compelled to share a few thoughts on the subject.

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