Ineffective hiring is a cost and a risk to you, your customers, employee morale, growth and bottom line. Effectively preparing and asking the right sales interview questions are critical to recruiting top sales reps that are right for your business.
Now that you know how to recruit top sales reps (you’ve created your ideal candidate profile and you’ve identified where to find candidates), you have one last preparation step before you can begin the interview process.
Define Your Cultural Must Haves
Defining your cultural must haves is important because you need to know if a candidate aligns with your culture.
As an example, the DoubleDigit Sales culture requires the following:
- Has strong sense of accountability
- Able to connect with others and team/relationships
- Able and comfortable in giving and receiving feedback
- Possesses drive and initiative
- Able to learn quickly and act quickly
- Has strong and clear communication skills
Be sure to include your specific cultural must haves in the questions and assessments during the interview process.
Prepare Your Sales Interview Questions
Once you have your candidate success factors and cultural must haves, prepare sales interview questions that address both. Download this comprehensive sales interview question guide that provides 3 concrete options for each success factor you have chosen.
Assign and Prepare Your Interview Team
Once you’ve prepared your questions, it’s time to assign your interview team. Choose at least 5 people from varying roles in your organization, including team members who will be working directly with the sales rep. You’ll want to ensure that each interview the candidate has is unique, so assigning questions strategically is important. Have each team member prepare feedback – strengths and weaknesses/ opportunities -- after their interview to be shared at a debrief meeting that same week. The more feedback you can receive from your internal team, the better you’ll be able to make the right hiring decision.
Define Your Interview Process
To illustrate, DoubleDigit Sales’ interview guidelines are as follows:
- Agree on panel of interviewers
- Interviewers needs to make themselves readily available. Must attend panel debrief meeting
- Interviewers must provide hiring manager with Green Flags and Red Flags (strengths and weaknesses/ opportunities) within 24 hours
- Must use assigned questions and adhere to process
- Trust gut and raise concerns if they come up in interviews – reconnect on feedback and be prepared to have discussion in earnest during panel debrief
- Don’t over value speed to quality of candidate
- Hiring Manager is point person and oversees process
- Manage and balance and expedient but quality timeline and process
Know your interview team, your guidelines and process in advance so that the interviews are efficient and effective use of everyone’s time.
Screen Sales Candidates
Before inviting a candidate to an in-person interview, consider screening them over the phone first. This will ensure that the candidate has real potential and is worth the time invested by your team and the candidate.
Critical at this stage is to determine if the candidate is an average or top performer by paying attention to their personal energy, commitment to exemplary personal values and their propensity to be self-propelled.
Here are specific questions you can ask:
- Describe the values that govern your professional life.
- Share an example where you went above and beyond to achieve a personal or professional goal.
- When (and why) did you realize that you wanted to be a professional salesperson?
Conduct a 2-Way Interview
Once you’ve effectively screened candidates, have them in or invite them to an official first interview either in person or virtually.
Remember that candidates are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them. Describing your needs in detail will allow the candidate to evaluate whether your needs fits with theirs.
Few salespeople are motivated by altruism, and misunderstanding your company's compensation package is one of the main reasons for sales staff dissatisfaction and turnover. For all potential new hires, explain precisely what the compensation plan is. In addition, clarify the territory, your performance expectations, any training you will offer, and any sales tools you will provide. You should also provide candidates with a thumbnail description of the market and the competition. Then you will know that you've explained the opportunity accurately to anyone who is interested.
Sales Candidate Simulation
Develop some real, likely business scenarios that can be offered for the candidate’s response in the interview to challenge the candidate’s ability to make decisions or to test their values. This will help you validate the skills they have put on paper.
Many companies are now turning to assessments to determine the right candidate and the right fit. An emerging, popular tool that sales organizations are using is called “Predictive Index.” This tool is a behavioral assessment, measuring four behavioral characteristics: Dominance, Extroversion, Patience and Formality. This tool has a depth of research that benchmarks top sales rep characteristics to the results of the candidate.
Choosing the Right Candidate
We often have a choice to hire from within or from the outside which becomes a choice between experience in the industry or experience with your products or services. The inside candidate may not have natural selling skills but possess the product talk track and cultural fit. The outside candidate may have selling skills, and immediate prospects from prior relationships, but lacks broad knowledge of your products. The hiring stakeholders need to determine which is more vital.
There is nothing more important for a client facing sales rep than to be likeable to the clients they will call on and represent your brand and company values. Therefore, hiring for cultural fit is key, and training to improve selling skills and disciplines is a more sustainable solution.
Hiring a sales force can be both daunting and exciting at the same time. It’s exciting to bring the right candidate to your front line to expand your company’s brand and reach, not to mention, to bring dollars in the door.
An exceptional salesforce is a lifeblood for any growth oriented company. Exceptional results require a focus on the right attitudes, skills and disciplines. Develop your average performers into top performers with a sales training solution created specifically for your needs and culture. Ask us how we can help you unlock high performance in your organization.