Should we hire experienced or inexperienced sales people?

I had a meeting with my sales management team earlier today to discuss if we should focus on hiring experienced or non-experienced sales people.

It is our finding that non-experienced people are comparatively loyal, adapts to the organization culture easily. On the other hand, the experience produce result immediately, requires lesser training and quickly adapts to the selling process.

Category Experienced Inexperienced
1.       ROI (Return on Investment) Higher Lower
2.       Hiring Cost Higher Lower
3.       Possible Opportunity waste Lower Higher
4.       Ramp up period Shorter Longer
5.       Daily Management Time Lower Higher
6.       Training and Coaching Time Lower Higher
7.       Cultural fit Lower Higher
8.       Loyalty Lower Higher
9.       Management Challenging Less Challenging
10.   Change Management Difficult Easier
11.   Cost of recruiting mistake Severe Not Severe
12.   Adopt to selling process Faster Slower


  1. As an entrepreneur and veteran of two years of Sandler sales training, my definitive answer is, “it depends,” and “both.”

    From an organizational standpoint, your salesforce should include a certain percentage of proven performers. Note, however, that “experience” is not the same as “results.” It will do your organization no good to hire someone with 20 years of experience as a bad closer.

    Inexperienced salespeople aren’t salespeople yet. You become a salesperson by selling.

    But with the right training, I think most motivated, intelligent people can learn effective sales techniques. (Even I managed to pull it off!)

  2. You need both – for the very reasons you stated in the table, they bring very different perspectives, attitudes and skills. Is it smart to adopt a single strategy? The proverbial “putting all your eggs in a basket.”

    The more complicated the product or service, the more likely you’ll need an experienced sales person. But times are a changing (music and book publishing industry are easy examples) and it’s the people who aren’t tied to history that can identify and navigate where and how businesses are evolving.

  3. I think that hiring non expereinced sales members can be good. But at the same time. Once they lose that excitement they first have in the beginning of their employment. I feel like their sales begin to drop. As with expereinced sales associates. They can continuously bring in steady sales. But again, sometimes they sound to repetetive and too much like a used car salesman. If your lucky you can find a sales super star that had no previous experience in sales. As long as they have the drive and skills to build good rapport with clients. Then that is what matters.

    Anyone can learn about the products being offered. But whether experienced or non experienced you have to have a few key personality traits. Such as indifference in attitude, (or not sounding like a sales person). Relating to people and being charismatic are key.

    Being able to create excitement about your company and products. Also someone who can show the value in what they are selling. Finding someone who will possess all of these is hard. But definitely possible. People are more inclined to buy if they feel comfortable with you, are excited about the products, and can see the value of what they are paying for.

    I also agree that finding someone with a positive attitude is hard to find. As well as someone with integrity who will represent your company with respect and conduct good work ethics where they can build long term relationships with clients. So in the end it really depends on the person. But I would be more inclined to hire an experienced sales associate who has all of the above qualities, over someone who has no expereince at all.

  4. As a sales manager, I had difficult time with both experienced and inexperienced sales people, so I don’t think it would be fair to draw a line between them and go with either way. In my opinion, it depends on the individual and the company who is looking to hire.

    As you stated that both has pros and cons. There are companies who has extensive training program and prefer to hire low-cost inexperienced sales people right off the college with right attitude.

    On the other hand there are companies who don’t want to go through the hassle of a training program and expect sales people to produce by hiring only who have experience.

    There is a possibility of cultural mismatch in either way; Of course your cost is lower with inexperienced sales people, but I believe anyone has ability to adapt to a new culture with positive attitude.

    At the end, it goes back to hiring people with positive attitude regardless if they are experienced or inexperienced. Companies should consider themselves lucky to find enough inexperienced sales people with positive attitude and has intellectual curiosity to learn about products and process (including how to sale). There aren’t enough out there. My two cents. :-)

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