Sales Recruitment 101: Finding the Right Sales Development Representatives

Discover key strategies to hire the right sales development representatives with our in-depth guide on effective sales recruitment practices.


It’s hard to find sales representatives who can hit the ground running. Choosing the wrong person for the wrong role will only hurts sales quotas, increase time spent in training and managing - basically, a lot of time and effort with zero ROI - even shooting up attrition rates in the long run.

Is the purpose to find a sales representative that you don’t have to spend any time or effort on? No. The purpose is to find one you don’t have to start from scratch with.

But what makes a good sales hire tick? Is it encyclopedic product knowledge, a stellar track record in the industry, or something entirely different?

These are the burning questions we'll tackle in this blog, tailored for human resources, talent acquisition specialists, company founders, sales seniors, and anyone tasked with assembling a quota-crushing team. No-nonsense, comprehensive guide—from sourcing potential candidates to successfully onboarding the chosen few, and what to consider before you make your next crucial hire.

What to look for in sales candidates

When looking for the right sales representative, it's important to know what makes a good one - the fundamental when it comes to hiring. At Side Kick, we like to follow something called the CORE Sales Traits Framework. Let’s break it down:

  • C for Communication Skills

  • O for Observational (Analytical) Ability

  • R for Receptiveness (Coachability)

  • E for Expressed Confidence

Let’s break it down further to see what this looks like as a part of your interview process:

  1. Analytical Ability: You want a sales representative who can think things through. Let’s say you ask them about their hobbies, like dining out. You could then ask, “Guess how many people are eating out over this weekend?” Watch how they break it down: maybe they think about people who might not be able to afford it, or families with small kids who prefer to stay home, or even people with dietary restrictions. This shows you how well they can analyze.

  2. Coachability: The best sales representatives are always eager to learn and improve. During an interview, try giving them some advice or feedback and see how they take it. Then, ask them to try something again using your feedback.

  3. Confidence: A good sales representative needs to be confident enough to handle tricky situations. You can check this by seeing how they respond when they don’t know something or when they need to address a tricky question. For example, it’s a good sign if they can say, “I’m not sure what that means—could you explain?” without feeling uneasy. This shows they can stay confident, even when things are uncertain.

  4. Communication Skills: It’s crucial that a sales representative can explain things clearly and simply. Try asking them to explain something complicated they know a lot about. Listen to see if they can make it easy to understand without using lots of technical terms or jargon. This skill is important because they’ll need to explain products or deals to customers who may not have any background knowledge.

Interview process

When setting up an interview process for a sales development representative, it’s crucial to structure it in a way that peels back the layers of each candidate's potential and suitability for the role. Here's a detailed breakdown of our five-round, 30-minute each, interview setup spread over five days, tailored to bring out the best (or the not-so-fit) in your candidates:

  1. Generic Catch-up:

    This round is all about breaking the ice and getting a feel for the candidate's personality and basic communication skills. Think of it as a warm-up, where you chat about their recent experiences and general interests.

    Objective: Helps establish a comfort level for deeper, more focused conversations in subsequent rounds. It’s also your first peek into how they express themselves casually—this has undeniable importance for a sales representative.

  2. Pitch Anything Except your Company’s Product:

    Here, candidates are asked to pitch something they are familiar with, which isn't your company product. This could be a previous product they’ve sold or even a hobby they’re passionate about.

    Objective: You get to see their selling skills in action without the crutch of rehearsed product pitches. It reveals their natural persuasive abilities and how they handle questions or objections, a part of any sales representative job description.

  3. Testing Curiosity:

    After receiving feedback on their initial pitch, candidates are asked to adapt and present again, incorporating the given feedback.

    Objective: This round tests two critical aspects—curiosity and flexibility. You'll see if they’re curious enough to have researched improvements and if they’re adaptable enough to tweak their approach on the fly. This mirrors real-life sales scenarios where understanding and reacting to client feedback is crucial.

  4. Evaluating Coachability:

    Direct feedback is given on their revised pitch, and their response is closely observed.

    Objective: Does the candidate show signs of incorporating feedback effectively? Are they defensive or open to learning? This stage is vital for assessing a potential sales development representative's growth potential and their ability to evolve based on coaching, a core part of human resource management in sales.

  5. Assessing Cultural Fit:

    This final round dives into the candidate's values, work ethic, and how they align with the company culture. Questions might involve hypothetical situations or past experiences that reveal their decision-making process and values.

    Objective: It’s crucial that a sales representative fits well within the team and upholds the company's ethos. This round helps predict their potential integration and longevity within the company.

Of course, you may want to use this in conjunction with your existing processes - background and verification checks, and more.

Pointers for an efficient sales hiring process - Key learnings and recommendations

In the quest to find the perfect sales development representative, our approach plays a pivotal role. Let’s dive into some practical insights and actionable steps by Side Kick that can help refine your hiring process, ensuring it aligns with both the goals of your organization and the expectations of today's job seekers.

  • Importance of Reference Checks: Never underestimate the power of good reference checks. They are crucial for verifying a candidate’s past performance and behaviors, ensuring that their professional history aligns with your requirements for sales development representative jobs.

  • Focus on Active Candidates: Prioritize individuals who are actively looking to change their job. This not only increases the efficiency of the hiring process but also tends to attract candidates who are ready and eager to embrace new opportunities.

  • Structured and Quick Interviews: Maintain a structured yet rapid interview process with a one-day gap between calls. This keeps candidates engaged and prevents the loss of momentum, crucial when filling sales representative positions.

  • Maintain Transparency: Always be clear about the next steps in the interview process. Transparency builds trust and helps candidates prepare adequately, reflecting well on your company's human resource management practices.

  • Build Meaningful Relationships: During the recruitment process, emphasize the growth and learning opportunities your company offers. This not only attracts quality candidates but also makes them more likely to stay and grow with your company, enhancing long-term talent acquisition strategies.

The process of hiring a sales development representative involves much more than sifting through resumes. It requires a strategic approach using advanced recruitment tools, a clear understanding of the market dynamics, and an adaptable interview process.

Not sure about hiring a sales rep yet? Consider Side Kick

The traditional sales development representative (SDR) model is often challenged by scale, speed, and efficiency. If you're thinking of shifting from conventional SDR hiring, or if hiring more SDRs isn't on your radar but your pipeline needs motion, Side Kick is for you.

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Core features of the Side Kick platform

  • End-to-End Automation: From finding and enriching accounts and leads to outreach, Side Kick covers every step. Use AI-driven tools to extract ideal customer profile (ICP) accounts from diverse sources like LinkedIn and Crunchbase, enrich data for accuracy, and automate your outreach efforts using personalized messaging powered by GPT technology.

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  • Strategic Modules for Specific Needs: Whether you're targeting local businesses, tracking job posts for intent, or engaging new senior hires, Side Kick provides specialized workflows designed to enhance your targeting precision and outreach effectiveness - aligning your marketing and sales efforts.

Empower your sales team with intelligent automation

By integrating Side Kick into your sales strategy, you transition from relying solely on traditional SDR roles to creating a dynamic, automated, and AI-enhanced sales process. This shift not only optimizes your resources but also amplifies your outreach capabilities, making every interaction more strategic and results-driven.

For businesses looking to scale efficiently while maintaining a high quality of personalized customer engagement, Side Kick offers the tools and support necessary to transform your sales approach and achieve

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