How to find and hire the right B2B Salespeople

Discover the secrets to hiring top B2B sales talent beyond traditional job boards. Learn how to engage passive candidates and assess crucial sales skills

How to find and hire the right B2B Salespeople

Hiring the right B2B salespeople is crucial for any business, but it's often a challenging task. Many business owners frequently express that hiring the wrong salesperson is a common mistake that can lead to significant setbacks. Let's explore a more straightforward, effective approach to this important process.

Talent Sourcing: Finding the Right Fit

Exploring Beyond Traditional Job Boards

The first step in hiring the right B2B salespeople is to know where to look. It's important to cast a wide net to ensure you're accessing a diverse pool of candidates. This means exploring various channels, including industry-specific job boards, professional networking sites, and referrals from within your network.

The key is to look beyond the conventional talent pools and tap into sources where potential candidates may be passive but highly qualified.

Traditional job boards are a common starting point in the talent search. However, they have a significant limitation: they primarily attract active job seekers. This group represents only about 20% of the total talent market. Relying solely on job boards means potentially missing out on the vast majority of candidates, many of whom could be the perfect fit for your sales team.

The other 80% of the talent market is made up of passive candidates. These individuals are not actively seeking new opportunities but are often open to the right opportunities.

The Power of Passive Candidates

Passive candidates, those not actively seeking new employment, often represent top talent in their respective fields. These individuals are typically employed and may be succeeding in their current roles. They are not on job boards because they aren't in a position of n

eeding to look for new opportunities actively. However, this doesn’t mean they are entirely closed off to new prospects.

Where to find Passive Candidates?

  1. Recruitment Agencies: Agencies have a network of passive candidates. They can help you reach individuals who may not be actively looking but are open to the right opportunity. While recruitment agencies have their networks, the most successful ones also leverage advanced tools to broaden their search. These include AI-driven platforms that can analyze vast amounts of data to identify potential candidates who match specific criteria.
  2. Talent Sourcing Tools: Tools like can be beneficial in this phase. The AI Talent Search Engine searches multiple platforms and channels online to hunt down hidden and qualified talent for you. The AI tools can process information much faster than humans too, allowing recruiters to identify suitable candidates from a much larger pool than would be possible through traditional methods.
  3. Industry Events and Conferences: These are prime spots to meet professionals who are not actively job hunting. Engaging in conversations at these events can open doors to potential candidates who might be interested in new opportunities.
  4. Professional Networking Sites: Platforms like LinkedIn are invaluable for connecting with passive candidates. By browsing profiles and participating in industry-specific groups, you can identify potential candidates based on their skills, experience, and industry involvement. If you do not have a paid LinkedIn account and your search is limited, offers unlimited search and views of LinkedIn profiles, including those who are 4th connection which is hidden by LinkedIn today.
  5. Referrals from Current Employees: Your existing employees can be a great source of referrals. They might know peers from previous jobs or industry contacts who are not actively looking but could be a good fit for your company. allows you to create an employee referral program easily to track referrals from your employees.

Engaging Passive Candidates

  1. Personalized Outreach: When you find a potential passive candidate, personalized communication is key. Tailor your message to their experience and skills, showing that you’ve done your homework. Don't reach out with a generic message.
  2. Highlight Opportunities for Growth and Development: Passive candidates often value opportunities for professional growth. Highlighting these aspects can make the position more attractive to them. Understand what they are looking for and be truthful and sincere in whether the role could be a fit for the candidate.

🔍 Identifying Sales Superpowers: Key Skills and Assessment Techniques

In the quest to find the ideal B2B salespeople, identifying their 'superpowers' – the unique skills that make them stand out – is crucial. Here are some core skills to look for and examples of multiple-choice questions you could use to assess these abilities in potential candidates:

1. Interpersonal Skills

Key Skill: Building and nurturing relationships effectively.

Why It's Important:

  • Active Listening: By actively listening to what clients say (and don't say), salespeople can gain deeper insights into their needs, concerns, and preferences. This understanding is crucial for tailoring solutions that genuinely address the client's specific problems.
  • Building Trust: Clients feel valued and understood when they are listened to, which helps in building trust – a fundamental aspect of long-term business relationships.

Example Questions:

How do you handle a situation where a potential client seems uninterested in your presentation?

A) End the presentation early and leave.
B) Ask open-ended questions to understand their concerns.
C) Continue the presentation as planned without changes.
D) Overwhelm them with facts to prove the presentation's worth.

2. Decision-Making

Key Skill: The ability to make quick, informed, and effective decisions.

Why It's Important:

  • Rapid Response: B2B sales often involve quick turnarounds. The ability to make informed decisions swiftly can be the difference between closing a deal and losing it.
  • Risk Management: Effective decision-making involves assessing risks and rewards, crucial in sales where choices can significantly impact both the salesperson's and the client's company.

Example Questions:

A client suddenly changes their requirements during a critical phase of the sales process. How do you respond?

A) Immediately agree to the client's demands.
B) Analyze the impact of the changes and discuss potential solutions with the client.
C) Refuse to accommodate the changes and stick to the original plan.
D) Escalate the issue to a higher authority without further discussion.

3. Sense-Making

Key Skill: The talent to understand complex situations and client needs.

Why It's Important:

  • Client Understanding: Grasping complex client needs is essential. Salespeople who excel in sense-making can tailor their approaches and solutions to fit these intricate requirements.
  • Data Interpretation: In a world driven by data, being able to interpret and make sense of data trends and market analyses is vital for developing effective sales strategies.

Example Questions:

You're presented with data indicating a decline in product interest in a certain region. What's your initial course of action?

A) Launch a new marketing campaign for that region.
B) Invest time to conduct an analysis to understand the underlying reasons.
C) Focus your efforts on other more profitable regions.
D) Reduce the price of the product in that region.

4. Problem-Solving

Key Skill: The ability to create effective solutions to challenges.

Why It's Important:

  • Solution-Oriented Selling: B2B sales are less about the product and more about the solution it offers. Salespeople must identify and solve clients' problems, aligning their offerings with the clients' needs.
  • Overcoming Obstacles: Sales often involve unforeseen challenges. Problem-solving skills are essential for overcoming these and keeping deals on track.

Example Questions:

  • If a major client is unhappy with a product's performance, what is your first step?

A) Offer a discount on their next purchase.
B) Ask for specific feedback.
C) Suggest switching to a more expensive product.
D) Apologize and hope they remain a client.

5. Collaboration

Key Skill: Working effectively with teammates and other departments.

Why It's Important:

  • Teamwork: Sales is rarely a solo effort. It often requires coordination with other departments such as marketing, product development, and customer service.
  • Cross-Functional Synergies: Collaboration skills help in creating synergies across different functions, leading to more cohesive and effective sales strategies.

Example Questions:

In a team project, you notice a colleague struggling with their part. What do you do?
A) Take over their part of the project.
B) Discuss and brainstorm with him.
C) Ignore the situation and focus on your responsibilities.
D) Report the situation to a supervisor.

Each of these skills is vital for a successful salesperson, and these example questions can help you gauge a candidate's proficiency in each area. By assessing their responses, you can better understand their approach to real-world scenarios they're likely to encounter in a sales role. Remember, the goal is to identify candidates who not only have the technical know-how but also possess the critical thinking and interpersonal skills necessary for success in today’s complex sales landscape.


Finding the right B2B salespeople is all about looking in the right places and understanding what skills matter most. By exploring beyond traditional job boards and using tools like, as well as tapping into networks through agencies and professional sites, businesses can connect with a wider range of talented candidates. This approach is essential for discovering those who might not be actively looking for a job but are open to new opportunities.

Additionally, focusing on key generic skills such as good interpersonal skills, quick decision-making, problem-solving, sense-making and teamwork is crucial. Using specific questions to test these skills during the hiring process helps in identifying candidates who are not only experienced but also capable of handling the challenges of sales effectively. This well-rounded approach ensures that businesses hire not just qualified individuals, but those who can contribute significantly to their success and growth.

Recommended read: ContactOut's Definitive Guide to Talent Sourcing