writing an effective job description

How to Write an Effective Sales Job Description


Having a sales job sit open for too long is bad news for any business. The saying “time is money” applies across many elements of business, but when it comes to sales, it’s a very literal expression. However, you don’t want just anyone to fill your open sales representative position. Filling a sales position without putting in enough thought could lead to a poor match, under-performance, and ultimately, churn.

The key to getting the right person in as quickly as possible is writing a great and effective sales job description. If you’ve spent any time perusing sales jobs on job search websites and social media, you may have noticed that sales job postings often sound exactly the same. Many companies use general terminology and industry cliches, without taking the time to personalize the description of the position or the company.

With thousands of sales job postings available for your potential candidates to apply to, it is important that yours sticks out in all the right ways, in order for you to attract top sales talent. Here are some important steps to follow to write an effective sales job description.

Get the Job Title Right

Be specific when writing the job title. “Sales representative” is a good start, but really isn’t quite enough. Address the following three areas in the job title:

  • Level of seniority
  • Responsibilities
  • Specializations

By providing some detail in the title of the job, you will attract the type of candidates you’re looking for. A sales manager position should be clearly distinguishable from a sales director position, and both should be clearly different from a sales associate position. Specializations will add to this by letting the candidate know anything else essential to the job (i.e. “East Coast Regional Sales Manager,” “National Sales Strategy Director,” or “B2B Sales Associate”).

However, on the flip side of this coin, if you try to get too creative, you might miss people who are performing a straightforward search for your exact sales position. So make sure to address these three sections of the job description in a straightforward manner.

Because many job seekers scan down a list of tens to hundreds of sales jobs on a job search site, if your job isn’t accurately titled, letting them know the key information regarding the seniority and type of position, you may not catch the eye of your target candidates. Specificity is key.

The Job Summary

The next step is a quick summary of the job. This should be no more than 3 to 4 sentences, and should be a snapshot of the job and the type of candidate you are seeking. Sprinkle this statement with some characteristics of your firm, as well. For example, you might begin this paragraph, “Large, established firm in the tech industry seeks…” or “Fun, high-growth startup in search of…” By adding a little bit about your firm here, you give some extra insight that will keep your candidate reading if you’re what they’re looking for.

Write the remainder of the job summary once you have gotten a good idea of the most important job responsibilities and candidate traits while compiling information for the job duties, responsibilities, and qualifications lists. You should synthesize this information and use the most essential components of each to depict exactly what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate.

Job Duties, Responsibilities, and Qualifications

These sections should be created in list format, so that they are easily scannable. What matters most is determining the most accurate list of duties and responsibilities, and being reasonable and realistic about what qualifications would be best for the position.

The process of gathering information to create these lists is essential to get the best possible outcome. As mentioned earlier, sales jobs tend to have a lot of the same types of responsibilities, and job descriptions for sales representatives often blend together. By being as specific as possible, you will make your job posting stick out.

Be thorough and specific. Start by taking a look at the job description from HR or the hiring manager for the role. This will be longer and more detailed than what you want to include in a job posting, but hone in on the most important elements and be sure to include them. This way, you’re not approaching this job posting from a generic “sales job posting” lens, but are really focusing on what your company expects of this person in particular.

Ask your best sales representatives and sales managers exactly what they do in a day. Get them to outline all of their responsibilities. From the software they’re fluent in to how often they travel, make sure to get a really clear picture. If the job will include a lot of cold calling or lead generation, it is important that you take note of that, as some more senior sales professionals might not be right for such a task-oriented role.

Next, ask them what they would seek in a candidate for the position. What are necessary vs. desired prerequisites for this job? What personality traits would make someone great at this job, and more importantly, a great fit for the company culture?

Use all of this information when putting together a list of responsibilities and requirements. Run it back by those reps and managers you spoke with before to make sure they think it accurately represents what is desired in a candidate.

Focus on Company Culture

The benefits of focusing on company culture in your job posting are myriad. Firstly, you set yourself apart from the generic postings. After reading many sales job descriptions, job seekers find it difficult to know whether they’re applying to a 3-person company or a giant corporation, much less whether they should expect a very formal work environment or somewhere you can set your own hours and dress how you want. Set expectations correctly so that you not only attract the right type of salespeople for the position and your company, but also retain them. Company culture is one of the most important elements in retaining employees, so communicate that accurately from the start.

In addition, focusing on company culture can give a voice to your posting. Use the second person when writing, so that your prospective job seeker can envision themselves in the role. Sell your company and its culture in the post. In today’s work environment, pay isn’t everything, so if you have a great office with all the bells and whistles, let your prospective employees know. Set yourself apart.

Particularly if you’re posting your job opening on social media, which you should do, you should make sure your posting has the same feel as your company page. If you are a young and fun company, get that across! If you are very formal and conservative with great growth and earnings potential, let that be your focus. You can also link to your company’s career page, where you go more in depth regarding the experience of working for your business.

Some Final Tips

If you are successful in really getting specific in your job posting and focusing on company culture, you are already in a great spot when it comes to attracting your ideal candidate. But here are some other things to keep in mind to make your job posting as successful as it can be.

Don’t be too wordy. Leave some white space and be sure to proofread. The job description shouldn’t be arduous to read – it should flow and be formatted in a way that is not overwhelming.

Try not to use gendered wording, such as “destroy” or “crush” or other violent terminology. It has been shown that this wording detracts women from applying, whereas more typically feminine language does not detract male applicants, so you will level out your applicant pool by avoiding hypermasculine language.

Don’t shy away from listing a salary range, as well as information on the career path and growth opportunities within your company. Some sales job postings come off as “spammy” and applicants will feel comforted to know that you are straightforward with your compensation and job structure.

Putting together a great sales job description is certainly possible, but it does take a lot of legwork and finesse. At Culver Careers, our sales recruiters are experienced in helping you write effective job descriptions that attract top talent. If you need some help along the way, please contact us.

Ty Culver headshot
Written by

Ty Culver is the Client Development Director of CulverCareers focusing on talent acquisition and workforce solutions with a wide variety of local, national and global clients.

Ty has been working in various aspects of the industry for over 10 years and developed deep expertise in Executive Search, Executive Benefit and Talent Acquisition Programs along the way. He has a range of experience from SMB to Enterprise clients and hyper specific executive searches to high volume recruiting with companies in a dynamic state of flux.

Today, Ty leads a talented team of Talent Acquisition Specialists, Executive Recruiters and Client Success Managers at one of the most respected Recruiting Firms in the Nation, CulverCareers. While leadership is a key aspect of his role, Ty still enjoys working with clients on recruiting strategies, executive benefit solutions and workforce solutions to help clients build a holistic approach to talent acquisition and talent retention.

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