A first-class sales team can make the difference between a company’s success and failure. But how do you find good salespeople? You don't have to spring for a recruiter--here are four inexpensive methods to find great salespeople.

1. Get referrals from friends and colleagues.

I've found most of the high performers I’ve hired in my career this way. The success rate for this method is especially high, because your friends and associates won't suggest a candidate who's unqualified. That would reflect poorly on them.

2. Ask your customers.

Customers bond with really good reps and they want the best for them. They’ll often know when one of their favorite reps is on the lookout for a new opportunity. Customers also have a vested interest in sending along quality referrals: They want to be called on by good salespeople. So, they'll typically only recommend someone who has what it takes to be an effective rep.  

3. Use social media.

LinkedIn is particularly powerful. You can use it to directly advertise for salespeople, and you can quickly peruse a candidate’s qualifications, specialties, and recommendations. You can also get to know top salespeople by joining groups on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Look for groups that will appeal to sales professionals who are knowledgeable in your field.

4. Engage with people--everywhere you go.

You never know when or where you’ll find the ideal candidate. A leader should always be looking for great salespeople, especially outside of the work environment. I found one of the best sales reps I ever hired in a checkout line. While we were standing there in the supermarket, we had a short discussion that eventually led to a formal interview. Casual encounters like these allow a free exchange of questions and answers that give you an insight into a candidate’s potential. Wherever you go, keep a lookout for people who look like they might fit your business, and when you see them, engage them in a discussion. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

Finding good reps is an ongoing process-;the leader’s search for the right people never ends. But if you follow these four simple techniques, you'll be able to find plenty of good potential candidates for your sales team.

In my next column, I'll give you five knockout interview questions that will help you choose the right candidate--and weed out the wrong ones.