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Smart Answers

Q: My consulting company is ready to expand its independent sales force. How do I find entrepreneurial sales reps? --R.P., Chicago

A: First, make sure you know what you want and can afford: an experienced rep or a promising newcomer? A rep who can persevere through long sales cycles or one who thrives in a "quick close" environment? Then ask your staff to alert you to good salespeople. Suppliers, customers, and vendors are also good sources. Since you know how those businesses work, you'll have an idea if one of their stars will shine for you, too.

Go to networking events. "Most people there are looking for leads -- not jobs -- but they're all salespeople," says Craig James, president of Sales Solutions in New York. "If they're not in the market, they may know someone who is." Online jobs boards are cheap but offer few clues about whether a person will fit into your culture. Above all, take your time. Sales reps pound the pavement. So should you.

By Karen Klein

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