Welcome to the Sales Recruiting Playbook! This guide will take you step-by-step through the exact strategies the most successful companies use to recruit and retain top quality B2B commission-only sales reps.

Regardless of the service you use to start your recruitment drive the following is true:

The very best independent sales reps are in high demand and there will always be competition between companies when setting out to attract the top performers. Putting your company in-front of the right kind of candidates is only the very beginning, so you must prepare to succeed or be prepared to fail.

You'll learn:

● How to overcome the two biggest challenges every company face when recruiting independent sales reps

Get Ready: What you need to do before you start interviewing independent sales reps as a potential fit for your company

Get Set: Where to find independent sales reps and how to evaluate if that person is right for your company

Go: We cover interviewing and ensuring a smooth on-boarding process

Next Steps: How to keep your independent sales partners retained and motivated to continue selling for your business


Thanks for downloading the Sales Recruiting Playbook! This guide will take you step-by-step through the exact strategies we use to recruit top quality commission-only candidates. You’ve taken the best first step, which is registering for an account on CommissionCrowd. Now it’s time to make the best out of this rare database of independent sales agents.

Words of Wisdom

The best advice I can give to anyone who is recruiting for a sales role is, Recruiting is a Sale! To recruit top quality candidates, you must sell first, buy second. What I mean by this is you must first get the candidate interested in the role by “selling” it, before you can interview them and make them “sell” you. Less the 20% of sales candidates will actually perform, and the ones that do are in high demand. An interview is a two way street whereby you are interviewing each other. This is not the time to play hard ball. If the candidate doesn’t get a good feeling from you, they will move on or stay where they are. Only the desperate ones will stick around during the interview process if it’s a one way street.

Your Goal: Self-Elimination

The following is a guideline of exactly how I interviewed thousands of salespeople over the years. It is based on a self-elimination process whereby every step, from booking an appointment to submitting a resume is a chance for the candidate to prove or eliminate themselves. The cream will rise to the top, as they say, so instead of thinking it’s your job to identify the perfect candidate, let the process work for you and have candidates shine through it. Just like sales, you must start with a very large pool to get the final winning results, and stay unattached to the outcome with any particular agent.

Do not judge too early.

Thus, your goal should be to get as many candidates through to the Face to Face interview as possible. Once you have completed all three phases, you can get an accurate assessment of the person’s sales skills and their likelihood of success. Expect no shows, cancellations, and people not following through, even on our database. This is okay and is all part of the elimination process. Even if you “like” someone, you must not force them through the process if they self-eliminate through any of these steps.

Your two biggest challenges revealed:

After recruiting for commission-only sales agents for 15 years, I can tell you the most difficult part of recruiting commission-only sales agents is two fold.

1. The first challenge is finding agents who are willing and confident enough to sell on commission-only. Even sales specific job boards are fruitless because most are expecting a salary.

2. The second most difficult part is keeping an agent engaged and excited through to their first, second and third sales.

Everything else, the interview process, signing agreements and training are relatively easy compared to these two challenges. The first, finding those confident enough to work on commission-only, has been solved for you on CommissionCrowd. However, just because someone wants to work on commission doesn’t mean they are a right match for you. You have a pool of those willing, ready, and able, but you need to put them through a recruiting funnel to find the right match at the end. The second we will address at the end of this Playbook in PHASE FOUR, as it is not an easy problem to solve. It requires learning how to motivate, manage and lead a team of commission-only sales agents to success.

We wish you the best of success and at thriving commission-only sales team and we are here to help, so please don’t hesitate to ask us to assess your current strategy to see if you are optimizing what is offered with your membership on CommissionCrowd.

Phase One: Pre-Interview “Get Ready”

What you do before your start interviewing candidates will set the groundwork for creating a successful sales team going forward. Here are the items you must have in place in order to yield the best results:

1. A Sales Playbook: A clear sales strategy and selling proposition

Independent, performance based commission-only sales agents do not have the time to invest to create a sales strategy or establish sales scripts through trial and error. They prefer a company with a proven sales process, presentations and scripts so they can see results right away.

If you haven’t already, create a Sales Playbook that outlines everything a salesperson needs to get started with your company, all in one place. You can download the free Sales Playbook template we created for you here

Creating a Sales Playbook also forces you to answer some hard questions about the sales process, overcoming objections, stacking up against the competition, and general day to day operational processes.

2. A defined Sales Presentation

Use any number of presentation tools to create an impressive presentation for your agents to use with clients whether in person or online.

3. Start Generating Sales Leads

If you don’t already have a strong lead generation engine in place, now’s the time to start. Sales agents, though most have an established network, will look to companies who are investing in generating leads for them to follow up on. Ideally you will provide leads on a weekly basis. Seasoned sales agents know they won’t rely totally on the leads provided by the company, and they will do their own lead generation as well, but regular lead generation is an investment or time and/ or money that the salesperson typically can not make. There is a distinct difference between sales and marketing. Marketing is all about generating leads for the sales team, who then assesses, recommends and closes the deal. They are two different skill sets. A salesperson is expected to do their own marketing as well is less successful simply because of the time it takes to generate leads. Use them where they are best, at closing leads, and you will have a happy, productive sales team.

4. Establish a clear compensation plan

Nothing diminishes a salesperson’s confidence in a company than a wavering commission sales plan. Define a sales compensation plan, including bonus programs, residuals, vesting requirements, and expectations that you will commit to for at least a year before attempting to make changes. A salesperson’s biggest question is “How do I know I’ll get paid?” They’ve all had the experience at one point or other of not getting paid for sales made because it happens all too often. They need confidence in the financial and ethical stability of the company, and changing the commission plan is a red flag to them. So take the time to clearly outline the plan with your finance team and make sure it is motivating and competitive for agents to be attracted to and stay with your opportunity.

5. Create an Independent Contractor Agreement

You don’t want to wait until you have your first sales agent ready to start putting together the legal documents. Outline the terms of the agreement, what service they will be performing, who pays what regarding expenses, payment terms, non-disclosures and what happens in the case of a disagreement. Make sure you leave the time to have it reviewed by your legal team so the agent can sign when they are excited and will have confidence in you knowing you are prepared for them.

6. Load documents into the training area

With your CommissionCrowd membership, you have the ability to assign training to agents and track if they have completed it. Use this area to load all documents to share with your agents. Avoid sending training materials via email and use this area instead to store documents related to the sales team. This gives your agent immediate access to the materials when they are out of the office and insures that you are all using the most up to date materials. You will want this complete before you start interviewing sales agents because the first thing you will do is have them start completing the training materials.

7. Set up your communication channels

You’ll want to create a way to communicate easily with agents, both individually and as a group. We do this for our teams via Slack. We try to avoid emails as much as possible and post questions relevant to the entire team in the #general channel so all agents are involved in the conversation. The channels are also searchable so agents can reference old posts and documents. We also set up weekly meetings to connect with the sales team. We use Zoom to have online meetings where we can screenshare. There is a misconception that salespeople will not want to participate in a weekly sales meeting but the response is overwhelmingly appreciative when you are providing valuable training, resources and motivation to get their week going. Mondays are the days when this motivation is most crucial.

8. Create an Opportunity Description

Most people think this is the first step, but now that you have done the work to create a Sales Playbook, and establish a clear commission plan, you can clearly outline the opportunity for the agents. Contrary to popular belief, agents are not only interested in the highest commission rate. They want to know they are marketing a product that solves a real problem (ie. Define and support the problem for them), it is a relatively simple sale (ie. help them visualize the sales process), it is a product people want (ie. show them positive press and traction you’ve created), and it is a team they are excited to be a part of (ie. even though they are independent, the support of team and the feeling of belonging is inherent in all people, introduce them to the people on your team). Videos are a great tool to get your opportunity to leap off the page and come to life! Approach your description like you would an ad to sell your product. People must get excited to be inspired to take the next step with you.

Phase Two: Source Candidates “Get Set”

Start a search on the CommissionCrowd Database

When defining criteria to search by, create a search that provides at least 100 results. Your search criteria (especially if you are using keywords) may not match up exactly with someone who would make an ideal candidate. A common misconception is that selling strategies are very different amongst different products. In reality, human decision making behavior is the same no matter what they are buying, so a skilled salesperson can typically learn the product knowledge required and apply their sales skills to sell your product. So keep your search criteria broad. When searching agents, you have the option to hide agents you’ve already contacted. This is a very helpful feature to keep track of who you’ve made initial contact with.

Share your Opportunity

Copy the link for your opportunity description on CommissionCrowd and share it everywhere possible! This is includes (but is not limited to):

● Your email signature

● LinkedIn Profile Bio

● Social Media Updates

● Your website

● Your personal network

● Email blast to customers

● Free job boards

Source Candidates on LinkedIn (experienced)

Invite specific candidates on LinkedIn to view your professional opportunity on CommissionCrowd. You can use a message like this:

Hi! We are currently seeking a new sales candidate for our company. Let’s connect and I can send you a full description.

For all candidates sourced: Send Email #1: (invitation to apply)

Now that you have leads, it’s time to start getting people excited about working with you and take the first step by applying for the opportunity. Just like sales, they must show interest first before you try to “sell.”

Subject Line: We want you, {first name}!

Hi __________ ,
I reached out to you specifically because I thought your experience in ______ would lend itself well to selling for our {tech/healthcare/etc.} company in ________city.

Take a look and hit “apply” so we can start a conversation about this. Some things to note:


Looking forward to getting to know you!

Email #2 (Response to applications)

Now that the candidate has applied to your opportunity, you’ll want to schedule a time with them to speak live as soon as possible. Just like sales you must “strike while the iron is hot.” I highly suggest using an online booking tool for this to avoid 2 or 3 additional emails trying to find a mutually convenient time to speak. We don’t want this to slow down the interview process. I typically invite everyone who has applied to my opportunity to an interview. Remember, this still a self-elimination process, candidates will continue to self-eliminate by not booking an interview or not showing up for the interview.

Subject: {COMPANY} Interview Request

Hi __________ ,
Thanks for applying to __________. I’m looking forward to speaking with you further to discuss the opportunity and answer any questions you may have. Here’s what I need you to do:

1. Book a time to chat with me. You can book me directly at {insertbookinglink} - It will save us a lot of time with back and forth and phone tag.
2. Send your full resume/CV to yourname@yourcompanyname.com or connect with me on LinkedIn here: Linkedin.com/in/
3. Research our company at yourcompanyname.com so you are well informed about the product before we chat.

Looking forward to getting to know you!

Don’t have a booking link? You can set up a free one here: Visit You Can Book Me or here: Visit Calendly

Follow up on sent messages

Typically, if you have reached out to enough candidates initially (100 is a good number to shoot for), you will have enough candidates in the pipeline that you do not need to follow up with those who did not respond . However, if you do not have at least five candidates per opening in the mix, follow up on the initial emails your sent after 7 days. Find the original email you sent in the CommissionCrowd message box and reply to the original message. I typically follow up twice on both initial invitations to apply and twice on invitations to schedule an interview. Once a week is a good schedule to follow for follow up messages. When you receive responses, you can easily update the status of the candidate in CommissionCrowd to interested or not interested so you are not following up with people who have responded already.

Hi! I’m just following up on the below. We are still interviewing candidates and we’d love to consider you! Let me know if you’d like more details or if you know of someone equally qualified who is looking for a new role. Let me know either way.


Sample Instagram/Facebook ads and posts:

There is no reason not to go the extra mile when recruiting candidates. CommissionCrowd does a great job of broadcasting your role to its current database, which is ever growing, and the site is highly optimized for SEO, which means if someone is searching Google for an independent sales role in your industry, your opportunity profile is likely to show up. But you can never spread your wings too far when hiring salespeople, and you’ll want to make the most out of your current networks as well. Social media posts and ads get more attention when there is a picture attached to it. And when you can use a picture that paints the story of what it’s like to work for your company, it bounces off the page. Here is an example of an image I created for an inside sales role I was recruiting for. I made this on Visit Canva (Ad will click through to CommissionCrowd Opportunity listing)

Phase Three: Interview and Onboarding (Go!)

1. Do your homework: Research Social Media Profiles & Search Google

Once you’ve booked the next interview, do some research on the candidate to prepare. You will want to check out their profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Etc. If their profile is not public, that’s fine. You are primarily looking to see what a prospective client would see should they research their salesperson ahead of time. Note the links to these profiles in their profile or on their resume.

In addition to social media profiles, you will want to do a generic search on Google to see what comes up about your candidate. Typically you can search their first and last name in quotes, and then their city, which should narrow down results, like this: “John Smith” Dallas If it’s a very common name, this won’t help you much at all, but if it isn’t, the search can be very helpful.

2. Conduct Face2Face Interview

The Face2Face interview should take about 30 Mins. You can conduct this in person, over Skype or via FaceTime. The interview process for any role, especially commission-only sales roles is a dance whereby you take turns selling to each other. As an expert interviewer and recruiter, you are in control of this dance. However, you want to remain friendly and give them a true idea of what it would be like to work with you. If your coaching style involves giving compliments, do that on the interview. The biggest mistake I see interviewers make is being too tough on interviews so much so the client does not desire to work with them. They end up attracting people that are perhaps too thick-skinned, which is not necessarily the best personality for developing long term relationships with clients, or those that are desperate. The great salespeople have lots of choices and the relationship you develop with them is essential in gaining their loyalty. When a highly sought after salesperson has to decide who she wants to work with everyday for the next five or so years, she will pick the one with which she feels the strongest connection. This is why it is ideal to do a Face To Face interview either live on online.

Especially if your agent will be conducting business Face to Face you will want to make sure they represent themselves professionally as they are an extension of your brand.

Check out my Face2Face Interview Script below.

Sample Face2Face Interview Script

Warm - up: Getting reacquainted. It is uncomfortable to jump into a serious conversation without knowing with whom you are speaking. Get to know the candidate on a personal level before diving into the interview. Give them insight into you as well. Great salespeople know how important it is to develop a relationship so allow them the opportunity to do this.

Pre-Close: A pre-close sets expectations for the meeting. It puts you in control and puts the candidate at ease.

What I’d like to do today is share with you a little more about our company that you may not have found in your research, answer any questions you may have, and then ask you some questions to see if it’s a match. If you and I decide that it is, I’ll extend the offer to you via CommissionCrowd and once you accept you can start diving into your training materials. The last step is to sign an Agent Agreement so we can start working together. Sound good?

About us: Give a brief description of who you are. Keep this to less than 5 mins. The purpose here is to take the salesperson on a journey through your product, help them envision selling it and having success selling it, and get them excited. In order for them to get excited, you must be enthusiastic. So no matter how tired you are that day, or how many interviews you’ve conducted, you must conjure up the genuine feeling of excitement in growing this company. Typically, this is the flow of information I give:

● Why the company was established and what problem it solves for what market

● Success the company has had to date in helping customers

● Why you are looking to add to your team

● The opportunity for agents. Ie. Commission plan and earning potential

● Training and support provided (sales meetings, training programs, leads, ads, access to support, etc).

Open for questions: You won’t be able to answer everything in the five minute description above, but it is better that you answer the agent’s specific questions. When answering questions, of course be honest, but if you happen upon an objection, explain why you have chosen to do things this way. Many times agents are satisfied that decisions were made with scrutiny and not simply overlooked.

Do you have any questions?

Make sure you give them opportunity to ask all their questions.

Qualifying Candidate: Now it’s your turn to “buy” and their turn to “sell.” First ask: Is alright if I ask you some questions?

1. What specifically have you sold in the past?

2. Who was your target market?

3. How do you see our product fitting in with what you’re doing right now?

4. When are you available to start?

5. What attracted you to our opportunity?

6. What are your earning expectations?

7. How would your life change if you reached that goal?

IF IT IS A GOOD FIT: (The Close)

1. I think it’s a match, what do you think?

2. Awesome, well we are excited to work with you and I think you’ll make an excellent contribution to the team. I can’t for you to meet them. Like I said before, the next steps are:

a. I will extend the opportunity to you via CommissionCrowd.
b. Login and accept the opportunity
c. Start diving into the training tasks which are already waiting for you
d. I’ll introduce you to the team on our next meeting which is______. You’ll see the details in your training tasks.
e. The final step is to complete an agreement. Once that’s signed we will issue you an email address and personal demo link to get you started.
f. Sound good?

3. Send Follow Up Email

It was so great speaking with you today and getting to know you. Here is what we spoke about regarding next steps:

1. I have extended an offer to join our opportunity on CommissionCrowd. Please login and and “accept” our offer (This is not legally binding. A contract is inside your training materials).
2. Click on the “Training” tab on the left side of the screen and start going through the training tasks. Once training is complete, we will sign the agreement and onboard you.
3. If you have any questions, please contact me via the Slack channel we set up.
4. Plan to join our next sales meeting where I will be introducing you to the rest of the team. You will find the details in the training tasks.

Looking forward to getting to know you!

Phase Four: Next Steps (Keep going!!)

Accepting an opportunity and signing an agreement are NOT the end of the recruiting process. In fact, the recruiting process for commission-only agents NEVER ends. You must continually work to keep them engaged, excited and motivated about selling for you. There is never a chance to relax. There is a misconception that your job is done here, but it’s not. It’s only just begun!

1. Enroll your new candidate in Professional Development courses

Once you’ve hired the right person, get them off to a good start. Start by enrolling them in courses that fulfill the knowledge gaps they have in their sales skills. Select individual courses or an all access pass so they can create the exact winning scripts they’ll need to make sales quickly. There is a saying in this business that a salesperson is not really on board until they’ve received their first commission check, so your job as a manager and a coach now is to get to them to that point as quickly as possible.

2. Make the candidate feel welcome

Introduce all new hires via your communication channel (such as Slack). Connect with them on social media. Introduce them on the next sales meeting and have everyone else introduce themselves as well.

3. Track and follow up on training progress

A follow up at the end of the week on their training progress is critical. It reminds the agent that you are paying attention and that you want to make sure they are going to be successful. Training is part of the self-elimination process. I repeat: Training is part of the self-elimination process. Agents typically do a great job of selling themselves on an interview, but when it comes times to do the work is when you see their true colors. Some will fly through the training, others will take their time, some will never finish and some will never start. It is fine either way, as you will start investing your time in them once the training is complete and an agreement is signed. Build strong relationships with your agents, but do not get attached to the outcome from any one particular agent. I make the last step in the training a sample presentation for myself, another teammate or recorded with someone else. The idea is to not practice on the market, but practice at home and with people who are skilled enough to give you feedback. Once an agent gets to this point, they are also deeply committed.

4. Countersign Agreement, Onboard Agent, Assign Leads

As soon as the agents completes their training, countersign their agreement and get them onboarded in your systems. Agents feel part of a team when they have a company email address. Anything you need to onboard do it as quickly as possible because you do not want to lose the momentum the agent has created. You can easily assign and track leads via CommissionCrowd’s CRM which is part of your membership.

5. Make the sales meeting valuable

Sales meetings are notoriously boring. But not yours! Plan out your sales meetings weeks in advance and record them for new agents to listen back to. Include lots of engagement from agents, great training, motivation, special guests, etc. Praise people publicly on these meetings. Give out rewards and bonuses. NEVER criticize someone in front of the group. Avoid handling questions about specific clients unless they are valuable to the entire group. Have seasoned agents take turns running the meeting.

6. Make yourself available

Make sure you or someone on your team is available to answer questions when the agent is going through training or working with clients. They need immediate answers to keep the sales process going. Don’t simply provide answers, but provide motivation every time an agent reaches out to you.

Remember, you must continually “recruit’ the agent to stay motivated.

7. Have monthly one-on-ones

Although you have an open line of communication with your agents, it is wise to schedule monthly one-on-one’s with them. This is a time to debrief and connect beyond day to day customer service issues and sales questions. Help them overcome sales objections, with the knowledge that the most common objections they hear are likely ones they have themselves. Make sure they are fully engaged and “sold” on your product themselves. Also re-connect with how they are getting closer their personal goals and how you can help.

8. Motivate the agent with what motivates them

Figuring out how to motivate agents is not as mysterious as it sounds, but it’s not obvious, either. Agents who are money motivated are typically only money motivated for a short period of time. The ones who are motivated by money long term are the ones who understand for themselves what that money will mean to them. They are self-motivated, but very few are. But motivating agents is not a mystery, because all you have to do is ask them what motivates them, and then ask again because typically the first answer is what they think you want to hear, not something personal to them. If they want to buy a house, ask, “What kind of house? Where? Have you gone house hunting yet?” If it’s travel ask, “Where do you want to travel next? When? What will you do there? Why that location? Who will you go with?” Remind the agent as often as possible what they are working towards.

9. Treat the agent like a partner, not an employee

If your management style is limited to working with employees, you will need to change it up a bit to work with independent salespeople. They are not getting a salary and are not your employee, therefore there are legal restrictions to what you can require them to do, but legalities aside, it’s in your best interest to treat them as a partner. They are investing time and money into your company before they see a return, similar to an investor. Give them that level of respect. Expect that they will be the top earners in the company when they are working at full potential. However, don’t take for granted the support they might need regarding sales training and resources. Just because they are independent does not mean they have perfected their sales careers. Help them with this and they will remain loyal to you.

10. Create a team environment

The worst thing about being independent is, well, being independent! Most independent salespeople are very social, which is why they chose sales in the first place. But being independent can get lonely, and having a team to rely on and lean on for support when things do go so great in the field, or to celebrate when things do go well is uber important. How will you create this team environment? Slack is a great tool to encourage discussion and engagement amongst reps in between sales meetings, and having them go live on video for sales meetings help create more of a team environment you would get in an office space.

11. Provide professional sales and management training

The best sales organizations continue to invest in the training and development of their salespeople, no matter what level they are at. A true professional will always be looking to improve, so be wary of someone who says they don’t need additional support or training. CommissionCrowd provides superior training right at your fingertips, but there are also resources like books and live trainings in which you can have them participate.

12. Make leads a reward.. Work begets work

If your company provides leads (and I highly suggest you do), it is advisable that you insist agents “earn” these leads. Perhaps it’s showing up for sales meetings, completing certain training requirements, or a reward for making sales. Don’t give leads to someone because they are struggling; leads will not solve their problem and it is unfair to the producers who you need to keep loyal.

13. Pay via CommissionCrowd for bonuses, etc.

CommissionCrowd’s Deal Manager helps gets your agents paid quickly, and replaces expensive multi tier commission payment software you would need to purchase. When agents get paid through CommissionCrowd, they are automatically entered into bonus programs sponsored by CommissionCrowd. The advantage to you is that your deals are pooled with all of our clients so we can provide better rewards and motivate your salespeople. These have included, and will include, cash, rewards trips, conferences and resources.

14. Sell the spouse

Here’s a tip that absolutely essentially in recruiting independent salespeople, but often overlooked. Sell the spouse/partner/significant other. There is always someone else in a salesperson’s life who is making decisions with them. This is often a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, or it could be a parent. This person will be involved in the decision to work with you whether you speak with them or not, and they will be the support system for the agent at home. It is imperative that this person is onboard and “sold” as on your product even more so than the agent, who is likely overly optimistic and enthusiastic at the start. I always include the spouse when I onboard a new agent. If you are local, take the agent and the spouse out to dinner. Show them they matter. Ask the significant other what kinds of challenges who should expect in working with the agent (they know the agent better than you do at this point) Ask the partner for their word that you can rely on them to support the agent when it gets tough and they want to quit. Include the spouse ongoing in your conversations and in any rewards and bonus programs you put together.

Well there you have it… You Won't find this anywhere else but CommissionCrowd. We’re here to help you grow your company and we want to give you all the tools you need to do that.

Jess Magoch

Director of Agent Recruitment & Success