Kathbern Management - Toronto Recruitment Agency - A girl scratching her head looking confused

3 Ways a Good Job Description Speeds Up the Sales Hiring Process

1. Tell them what you want, it will filter out the ones you don’t so you don’t have to!
Clearly defining the responsibilities of the Sales Rep prior to beginning the recruiting process is absolutely critical. Depending on the duties to be assigned, your search for the ideal candidate fit could be very different.

Do you want:

A “Jack of All Trades”?
Someone who does their own research, prospecting, lead generation, meeting scheduling, proposal preparation, pricing, order input, follow-up to delivery, and accounts receivable follow-up.

A Closer?
In other situations, other parts of the organization will assume many of these responsibilities, leaving the Sales Rep to focus on prospects who are solid leads, and taking them through to the closing of the sale.

A Farmer?
Some companies will expect the Sales Rep to assume an “account manager” role as the first point of contact going forward, while other organizations will assign a dedicated Account Manager to take over at this point, leaving the Sales Rep to focus their attention on new business development.

A Hunter?
Do new accounts get handed over to Farmers, and you just want a hunter…?

Depending on the specific nature of the role, a very different skill set and personality will be an ideal fit for that particular role.

2. Rightsize the job
There is also a general tendency to undersize the job, by not anticipating the changes that overall growth, increasing product sophistication and changing business processes (i.e. technological advances) will make to the responsibilities of any position, including Sales Reps. Such changes can take the form of increased volume expectations as businesses strive to survive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The expectation of greater results usually implies a greater effort (more hours, more travel) and/or a very creative application of “working smarter” which is difficult to achieve.

3. Match Complexity
It is also often the case that products and services naturally become more complex over time. The Sales Rep may be expected to be well versed in multiple product lines and perhaps represent multiple company divisions. Pricing can become more complex as the organization struggles to address various niche markets and competitive threats. In addition, in a drive for greater efficiency, many organizations are constantly looking for new ways to automate internal processes, so that the Sales Rep’s environment is constantly changing in how they communicate with the rest of the organization and with prospective clients.

Not everyone is suited to a rapidly changing environment; therefore the pace of change in your organization will determine how much emphasis you need to place on “not undersizing the job”, in terms of candidates’ ability to cope with this change.

Getting the Job Description Right from the Beginning Makes Everything Easier

With all of the above in mind, it is wise to invest the time to develop a one- to two-page job description that clearly sets out the overall goal of the position, reporting relationships, key duties and key candidate requirements. This will go a long way in helping to narrow your search for the ideal Sales Rep for your situation.


A single senior level hiring event which fails will, on average, cost a year of progress, recruitment and severance costs and have a negative impact on the organization’s goodwill as perceived by other employees, customers, shareholders and outside agencies.

Larry Smith founded the management search firm Kathbern Management in 2004 after a multi-decade career in senior roles with organizations in the office equipment, communications technology and investment banking industries. Kathbern Management focuses on working with owners and senior managers to “get the right people on the bus”.

While most of Kathbern’s projects have been in North America, others have been in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, West Africa and the UK.

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