The Best Ways to Find Top Salespeople

Have you cracked the ad sales hiring code yet? An inevitable topic at every one of our niche publisher roundtables is how to find top salespeople (and successfully retain them).

We asked Sales Leader Stephanie Holland to talk about how to identify traits of great salespeople and where to find them outside normal HR channels. We also asked her to share some of her interview best practices.

What are 3 essential traits of top salespeople? Is it niche-specific?


  • Empathy. Often top sales people are ones that may have previously been marketers or worked on the agency side.  It is extremely important to understand what our customers are hoping to achieve.  This is important in both understanding what your customer’s goals is, but also being able to authentically gain their trust.  A great rep should understand what success looks like for each of their clients.
  • Drive.  Let’s face it, we get told no, a lot.  A great rep not only has thick skin, but also has the determination to seek out a yes.
  • Life-long Learner.  Media has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Make sure your reps understand marketing trends, advances in advertising technology, understand how to leverage data and analytics.   As niche publishers, our customers expect an impeccable understanding of our audience and industry coupled with the ability to make strategic recommendations that will drive business results.

Tell us more about looking outside the “normal” channels for super-star salespeople. Any pitfalls to avoid?

Stephanie: “Depending on your product suite, you can likely find super star sales people in various places.  When selling custom publishing solutions, former marketers often understand how to put together integrated content driven programs. For lead generation products often the best sales reps are those that may be involved in production or audience development.  These are often teams that know what types of content or campaigns your audience responds to.”

 Can you share some interview secrets you think many sales managers overlook?

Stephanie:” I ask for a case study on their favorite program that they ever sold, and the reason it was their favorite. In asking for case studies, you’ll know if the rep really took the time to understand the client’s problem, recommended a solution, and understood results.  I find that case studies are the best way to sell other advertising programs, and the best way to sell me!”



More about Stephanie: Stephanie Holland is a passionate leader with more than 15 years of experience in advertising sales and marketing. She currently manages global advertising sales and marketing at the American Chemical Society. In addition to sales, Stephanie is also the manager of marketing for ACS’s weekly news magazine Chemical & Engineering News.


About this blogger: Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Niche Media. A former sales director and corporate marketing hack, she has now found nirvana in writing and wrangling quality content. Diana is a food, wine, art and SF Giants enthusiast…who sometimes gets carried away.


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