From Inc.com’s Sold! blog (my highlighting):
The number one mistake in building and maintaining an effective sales team is a flawed hiring process. While there are many elements to consider, my first concern has always been to interview constantly. Always look for exceptional people in and out of your industry.
Here are some of my other suggestions for hiring:
• Pass on experience and look for people who show some element of emotional intelligence and personal magnetism.
• Interview each person at least three times before you send them to another team member.
• Prepare questions that take the applicant past normal responses. Get them to solve a sample problem, ask about the last book they read, or ask how their performance has been measured in the past.
• Finally, interview before one of your positions is open. Nothing hurts hiring like the rush to fill the position.
I’ll say this, experience does more to ruin good sales hiring than any other single factor.