What are the best practices for hiring sales people? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Michael Ferguson, CEO of Rainmakers, on Quora:

The end of the year can be the best time to hire great salespeople.

It goes against the grain of traditional thinking. With so many people traveling over the holidays and lots of planning going on for the new calendar year, many businesses choose to hold off until January to dig into the hiring process. That's a mistake.

Hiring toward the end of the year can put you ahead of the competition. It's your chance to snatch up some of the best people before your competitors go after them.

In recent years, as more businesses have begun to figure this out, end-of-year hiring has picked up. Still, Monster.com reports that major industries including information, financial services, and professional and business services see their lowest level of hiring in December.

Meanwhile, salespeople are most likely to take new jobs in December, ERE reports. It's when "they are most likely to be extremely open to new job opportunities."

Always be interviewing -- and hiring

These days, the best system is to be engaged in interviewing and hiring salespeople all year round, even if you don't have any listed openings.

Good salespeople make your company far more money than you pay them. That explains why they're in such demand. They're the rainmakers. Competing companies fight over good salespeople.

So when you find someone who's great, you need to be ready to pull the trigger. Getting a new employee onboard takes some capital, so this means leaving room in your budget for the possibility that you might, for a time, have one or two more salespeople than you allotted for.

Having the capacity to scale when the opportunity for a great hire comes along is a must for any business looking to grow.

And even if you do all you can to keep your employees happy, some turnover is inevitable. Someone will leave your company for another job. It can happen on any day. If you delayed hiring someone great, they may no longer be available when you suddenly have an opening.

At my company, we've had clients do some hiring and think they're done, then come back in a couple of months needing more. They could have saved time by not having stopped the process with other candidates.

Get specialized

When you think of salespeople, you might still have old images come to mind, like stereotypical used car salesmen. The idea behind that image is that salespeople were seen as interchangeable for any industry -- you just hire someone good at selling and they can move any product or service.

It's not like that anymore, for good reason. Instead, good salespeople are much more specialized now. Successful companies often hire people whose previous experience overlaps with what they'd do in the job because they've performed well at a similar company.

You also need people well versed in the latest technologies for selling. Today's best salespeople are highly educated. They know how to use technology stacks and manage pipelines. They understand buyer profiles and how to gather all the necessary information to target the right prospects.

Customers have gotten smarter as well. They want to work with salespeople who are genuine and really know their stuff. They build relationships with people they trust.

Aim for A-Players

In addition, there are traits and so-called "soft skills" that successful businesses look for in hiring great salespeople.

To hire A-Players, or "5-star recruits," an expert at our blog recommends looking for people who reach for "stretch goals" -- objectives that seem just beyond reach -- and hold themselves to a higher standard. These top performers also understand the importance of teamwork and communication, are in tune with your company's vision, take initiative, and put the good of the company before their own.

It's also important to understand that as new technologies become available, that can take over more of the repetitive work involved in today's sales, the most valuable salespeople will be those whose work involves "cognitive judgment," inherently requiring "some human element of thought or trust." This means not only the ability to build relationships, but also expertise in sales strategy, negotiating, and training.

The good news is that most companies know what they're looking for. They have their eyes out for the right people. But as the competition gets fiercer, they can't afford to delay or wade through lots of red tape. So the best practices boil down to: be smart, be efficient, move fast -- and never stop.

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