10 Questions to Help Hire Sales Winners

When it comes to building a world-class sales organization, the right culture, the right people, and the right data are critical. Hiring is key; every employee is important but not all are as important as your sales team. Their effectiveness is a direct link to your bottom line. You want salespeople who are energetic, gregarious, motivated, and resourceful – people who really know how to win. The best reps know how to approach a job interview like a sales call.

Most are great at interviewing and it is easy for a hiring manager to fall into the trap of getting caught up in the flow and make a bad hire. So, how do you weed through the flashy resumes and inflated track records to find the true quota crushing gems? It’s all in their pitch.

Here are 10 questions to ask every rep that comes knocking for a job; their answers will help you separate the guaranteed business-boosters from the potential sales setbacks:

1. “Tell me about a deal you have won?”

How a sales rep wins a deal says a lot about whether they’ll fit in with your sales culture. This is a good way to start the interview, because who doesn’t like to brag about a big deal?

2. “Tell me about a deal you have lost?”

Here, you’re looking for accountability. If they won’t talk about a deal they lost, call them a cab. Interview is over. Everyone has lost a deal at some point. A good salesperson is always looking for ways to improve and isn’t afraid to admit their mistakes.

3. “What did your W-2’s look like the last couple of years?”

A smart rep won’t tell you right away. They shouldn’t do it during a sales interview, either. The best sales reps will continue to push for further clarification of the role, your needs, what it will take to be successful and their value to the company.

4. “How do you divide up your time?”

In sales, time is money. Managing a sales pipeline, closing deals and servicing relationships with existing accounts takes a lot of time. Good salespeople squeeze hours out of minutes and weeks out of days, and are always looking for ways to close deals faster.

5. “How do you find your leads?”

Beware of the sales rep who is handed a steady flow of leads, has the best accounts or can hide under the air cover offered by a big brand name firm. Nothing wrong with big companies but often their sales reps haven’t had to make a cold sales call to a stranger for decades.

6. “What book is on your nightstand?”

Top sales reps are self-improvement junkies! Doesn’t matter if they have been in the business for 4 weeks or 4 decades, the top 10% are always looking for ways to improve and gain a competitive edge.

7. “What are your short-term goals?”

Long term goals are fine but they all usually sound the same. You want someone that can get off to a fast start with minimal hand holding. A great candidate will have already thought about, planned and prepared for how they will build a pipeline and get to their first commission check as fast as possible.

8. “Why you?”

Remember, this is sales call for the candidate—their most important sales call. And if they can’t effectively sell themselves, a product they’ve lived with for years, how will they effectively sell your product?

9. “Why us?”

Good sales candidates always have multiple opportunities to choose from and the ones you hire should know your unique value proposition and why your company is their best choice versus all of the other alternatives in the marketplace.

10. “Why now?”

Why is now the right time for you to make a change? Turn on your excuse radar and listen closely to this answer. The bottom line is the good candidates ALWAYS FIGURE IT OUT, regardless of market conditions.

Sales Candidate Red Flags

  • Beware of the candidate who doesn’t come with good questions. Smart people ask good questions and do some homework
  • Beware of the candidate who comes dressed too casual unless you told them to dress down. This is an audition and they need to put their best foot forward.
  • Beware of the candidate who wants to talk about dollars before they have established value
  • Run from the candidate who doesn’t close you on the next step and ask for your vote to be moved forward
  • Look at your watch when the interview is over and see how long it takes them to send you a “Thank You for your time…. I am your next top producer and / or want to learn more….” type email

Hiring mistakes happen. Many well-intentioned careful sales managers have hired a highly touted sales executive, only to later find out they were a complete miss. But, it pays to be selective. By the time you recruit, hire and train a new rep you’re already six months deep. By the time you find a replacement, you’ve lost 15 months of another sales cycle. Take your time; Don’t be fooled by a carefully curated resume. It’s easy to get sucked in and invest in someone you shouldn’t. The wrong decision can be costly but the right one will crush quotas.

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