Case Study: Should I Hire this Salesperson?

Should I hire this salesperson?” That was the question the printing company owner put to me, but the answer wasn’t so simple. Oh, the candidate tested well and seemed otherwise qualified, but the real question was, “Should this owner hire this salesperson?” Well, someone ought to hire them, but I don’t know if this owner should. I covered details on supervising salespeople in my last article and all that applies in this case. What’s new about this situation is how the owner came to this hiring question in the first place. Let me explain.

To summarize the last article, owners who have little knowledge about selling usually don’t have good experiences hiring people to do what they don’t or won’t do. There is a lot to supervising a salesperson including having product knowledge, creating a “sales funnel,” and knowing how to convert suspects to prospects for starters.

Now, in this case, I not only didn’t know that, I didn’t know if the owner had the capacity, desire, and/or temperament to supervise and support a salesperson (there are tests for some of that). Nor did I know if the organization could support one—in everything from estimating to meeting customer expectations—and finally I didn’t know if the offer the owner wanted to extend would be profitable. It seemed so, but I didn’t know for sure.

What was I left with?


Drawing Comparisons

The applicant tested well, but even that didn’t tell if they were the one for this owner, even if the owner had all the required abilities. Why not? We weren’t comparing against anyone else. On the plus side, we could say the applicant had the capacity to learn (he was smart enough) and had the basic temperament to do well. But, compared to what?

And this is where the real story lies. How did the owner come to the point of this decision in the first place? The story is all too familiar. In this case, the salesperson was moving to the owner’s area from another city. He sold printing there which was similar to the printing that would be sold here, so the owner thought, “Why not? He’s been selling for five years, so why wouldn’t he be a good fit for me”

Finding a salesperson isn’t just about waiting for someone to walk in the door looking for a job. My friend said, “I have needed a salesperson for years, but have never found the right one.” Well, assuming this is high on the owner’s to do list, how much time has been spent on recruiting in the last six months? In this case, and in many others, the answer was none or little.

I further note that his metropolitan area is home to more than a million people. Surely to goodness, this owner could find at least one acceptable candidate among all those people.

Hiring is about choosing between alternatives. Is this the best person for the job? Who knows unless we compare among alternatives? A better candidate could be right down the street. Most importantly, if we really need a salesperson, then we should be spending our time finding one. We shouldn’t wait until one pops in the door. And that’s why I’m concerned about whether this salesperson would be a good fit for this printer.


Tom Crouser is chairman of CPrint International, teacher of business courses at CPrint University, and principal of Crouser & Associates, Inc., 235 Dutch Road, Charleston, WV 25302, (, 304-965-7100. Contact him at 304-541-3714 or Connect on Facebook and LinkedIn and follow his tweets at