Hiring a sales rep: How to write an effective sales job description

Writing a sales job description is the first step in your hiring process. You want to attract candidates who have the potential to be amazing employees. You’re looking for the right fit for the position, your company, and your culture.

So don’t slap together a description. Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding are time-consuming, expensive undertakings as it is. The Society for Human Resource Management found that the entire process for one employee can have a price tag of around $240,000. Furthermore, if the criteria are not clearly spelled out in the job description, you may end up with a hire who hurts your overall customer experience.

The better and more accurate the job description, the higher the likelihood you’ll find the right match for the position. And that can determine whether you hit your targets and generate revenue.

Obviously, how you describe an open position will depend on what that role requires. In this article, we’ll start by going over job description basics and then look at descriptions/sales job description templates for two common sales positions:

  • Sales development rep (entry-level sales role)
  • Account executive (more tenured sales role)

First, let’s look at common sections that are important to any sales job description and how they need to be written.

Nail your job description sections

Whether for sales, marketing, finance, or support, job descriptions typically have the same structure:

  • Company info
  • Title info
  • Summary objective
  • Qualifications
  • Job duties and responsibilities

It’s how you approach this structure that makes all the difference. Just as the candidates want to sell their skills and abilities to you, you need to sell your company and department to them. When writing each section, think about the following:

1. Know who you’re looking for.

This element is the foundation on which to build your entire job description. Just like you do when you’re writing buyer personas, create a document (if you don’t already have one) that outlines your company culture and the people who would be the best fit.

Next, brainstorm and answer questions like:

  • Is a similar position already in place?
  • How will this position differ?
  • What value will this position provide the department?
  • What are the minimum skills required?

Interview your top-performing sales reps and account executives to truly understand their daily responsibilities and what skills/tasks are required in their position. Incorporate their feedback into the description as required skills and actual daily responsibilities like the example below.
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Buffer job description

Hint: Even if a task is more difficult, include it in the description if it’s something that the candidate will be working on. Be transparent.

2. Be concise.

Wordiness. It has scared away many an applicant. Managers eager to include EVERYTHING a job requires end up going overboard. They bombard candidates with a dense page of responsibilities and information about their company. Notice how Bread expertly handled their company description:
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Bread job description

This element goes back to your high school English class. Avoid prepositional phrases. Don’t use two words when one will do. Focus on what’s actually needed in the position. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. If it helps, write out the description first (fluff and all). Then go back through and delete words/unnecessary sentences.

Hint: Definitely include information about your company but don’t give them your entire website copy.

3. Avoid vague, generic copy.

Let’s face it, sales lingo can be dry at times. It’s just easier to jot down responsibilities like “Responsible for bringing in new customers into the company via lead generation.” But don’t take the easy way out. Use the information you gathered during the interviews with your team, and nail down actual tasks. Like this: “You’ll learn everything about our service and be able to pitch the benefits of our offering whether to an executive or junior buyer.”

Auth0 took a similar approach in their description for a Junior Sales Engineer.
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Auth0 job description

Hint: Avoid buzzwords like “Competitive salary” and “Dynamic team player.” Too many companies include phrases like these that add no real value to the description.

4. Ditch the jargon.

At the same time, don’t make your job description difficult to understand. According to one survey, “57% of respondents said jargon in job ads puts them off applying for a role.” The same survey also found that the sales industry is one of the worst for using jargon!

Set yourself apart from competitors’ job descriptions. Avoid technical wording and phrases that cause candidates to scratch their heads and wonder what you’re trying to convey. Don’t use words like “KPIs” or “SQLs,” especially for entry-level sales positions. Put your entire description in laymen’s terms.
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Zendesk job description

Hint: If you must use technical or legal terms, consider doing so toward the end of the job description.

5. Be human.

This element should naturally result from avoiding generic phrases or jargon but don’t be afraid to add some humor or at least warmth. Set the tone from the start. Try to be conversational.

One way to do this is to use the second person to address the candidate like “You are an excellent social seller.” Avoid third-person phrases such as “The candidate should be skilled at social selling.”

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GitHub job description

Also, reflect your company’s culture in the description. Do you have an amazing office space? Share about it. Let them know that the company they’re considering has personality.

Hint: Specifically identify company values along with a description of your company culture.

Learn from best-in-class examples

Again, writing a description that works for your company and department depends on the sales position that you’re hiring for. They will all have different descriptions, requirements, etc.

Here are two descriptions/templates to help you get started composing an entry-level sales description and a more tenured sales description. If you’re unsure about the general responsibilities and requirements of either a sales rep or account executive, use the descriptions below as a jumping-off point to write your own.

Hint: Notice how these job descriptions incorporate the elements listed above.

1) Sales Development Rep Description

Specific job responsibilities will depend on your company, but an entry-level sales development rep typically uses their communication skills to generate leads, build customer relationships, convey benefits, and hopefully sell a product or service.

Negotiation skills are a must, as well as a strong ability to connect with people. Presentation experience and networking skills are also essential. Common responsibilities include cold calling, emailing, social selling, and acting as the first face for a client.

Here’s a sales job description template for a business development representative:

Business Development Representative

Passionate about a career in sales? Looking for a doorway into one of the fastest-growing industries in the world (SaaS)? We are looking for entry-level Sales Representative professionals to join our growing team.

Our Inside Sales Representative role offers an environment to learn, practice, challenge, and establish a strong foundation that’s invaluable to your career. The focus is on supporting our sales teams with more leads, more closed deals, and more revenue. Your efforts directly give to Zendesk Sell’s top-line growth — providing you with a professional development path into a consultative selling, Account Executive position.

Why Zendesk Sell?

  • 100% year-over-year growth for 6 straight years.
  • Recognized by Gartner as “Forward-thinking” in the SFA Magic Quadrant.
  • Disruptive strength in the enormous $36 billion CRM / SFA marketplace.

Responsibilities

  • Qualifying and disqualifying inbound leads in a high-volume environment using calls, emails, and LinkedIn inmails.
  • Representing our brand as the first point of contact between Domestic and International C-level executives, decision makers, and influencers.
  • Building credibility and value in our solution through strategic research and preparation.
  • Innovating lead generation processes by taking part in executive leadership meetings.

Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4 year university.
  • Intelligence, Character, Coachable, Experience.
  • Focused on a long-term sales career.

Bonus Points

  • Working knowledge of the CRM industry.
  • Sandler, Spin, Challenger, Strongman, Force Management training.
  • Understand and articulate a qualification methodology such as BANT.

[Source]

Why it’s effective: Notice how the responsibilities are specific to the role: “Qualifying and disqualifying inbound leads in a high-volume environment using calls, emails, and LinkedIn inmails.”

  • The beginning summary draws the candidate in and gets them excited to work for Zendesk.
  • It’s brief and concise.
  • Rather than titling the last section something generic like “Desired Skills,” the writer of this description chose “Bonus Points” as the header.
  • Language is easy to understand.

2) Account Executive Description

An account executive uses their expert communication skills to generate sales opportunities and take ownership of their assigned accounts. They nurture relationships with current clients and also build relationships with new ones. They work with both clients and internal teams.

A successful account executive knows how to balance planning and account coordination. They regularly report on the health of their accounts. They are also skilled in identifying growth opportunities with clients such as upsells.

Here’s an example of a job description for an account executive:

Account Executive

About Zendesk Sell

Recently acquired by Zendesk (formerly Base), we’re building a product for Salespeople called Zendesk Sell, part of the wider suite of Zendesk products. We have a big vision for 2020 and a small, highly talented team within Zendesk. Everyone at Zendesk has the opportunity to make a big impact on the productivity of millions. Zendesk is an amazing place to work for self-driven and dynamic people who solve big problems that disrupt a multi-billion dollar industry. Zendesk Sell began when we were frustrated by our own experience with CRM and was founded in 2009 based on a strong internal belief that businesses deserve better, smarter software. The Sell team is a small and dynamic group (150 people) operating inside of the amazing Zendesk team of 2,500 employees.

Why be an Account Executive?

Located in our sunny (sometimes) San Francisco office, our sales team is looking for a bright, motivated and high-performing Account Executive to join our crew. As an Account Executive at Zendesk Sell, you will be responsible for managing and closing opportunities within a territory. This person must demonstrate all the behaviors associated with a high performance sales culture, specifically prospecting for new business, upsell and cross-sell within our extensive install base and delivering results against a quota. Sound like you? Read on…

Responsibilities:

  • Exceed activity, pipeline, and revenue goals on a quarterly basis
  • Continually build pipeline of new business, upsell, and cross-sell opportunities
  • Become an expert on Zendesk Sell and conduct discovery calls, presentations, and demos with prospects and customers
  • Develop and manage relationships with prospects and accounts within your assigned territory
  • Demonstrate and sell value to key stakeholders within the accounts during fast-moving as well as complex sales cycles
  • Work in a team-selling environment specifically building relationships with Zendesk Support counterparts.
  • Track all opportunity and customer details including use case, purchase time frames, next steps, and forecasting in Zendesk Sell

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Experience selling to Director/VP level leaders
  • 2+ years of software selling experience; SaaS experience preferred
  • Track record of success selling into mid-market companies
  • Technically savvy; thorough understanding of a related technology (CRM, SFA, Support Software, SaaS)
  • Proficiency using CRM; (Base CRM, Pipedrive, Copper, Salesforce.com, etc.)
  • Skilled in virtual presentations, online web demos, remote sales processes
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills

[Source]

Why it’s effective: This description takes what could be a bland sentence and injects personality into it: “Located in our sunny (sometimes) San Francisco office, our sales team is looking for a bright, motivated and high-performing Account Executive to join our crew.”

  • Clearly outlines why you should be an AE with Zendesk Sell.
  • Defines how the company will bring value to the candidate’s career.
  • The description is more in-depth as it’s for a tenured role but is still concise.

Set up your hiring process for success

Of course, be careful with copying/pasting info for your job descriptions. If you use responsibilities and requirements like the examples above, customize according to your company and needs. Read back over the description a couple of times to make sure that you are covering all of the position’s needs.

Your job description is the first step in the hiring process. Combine the right job description elements with copy specific to the sales position. Then use the info for job postings and ads. Whether you’re hiring a sales rep or account executive, you’ll increase your chances of finding the best fit for your company with a job description that stands out.

This article is part 1 in our series of “Hiring a sales rep.” Be on the lookout for the next installment!

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