Want to find the very best salesperson for your business? Leave your emotions and feelings at the door when it comes to interviews. Why? Because this is the where most managers will fail in the recruitment process.
Sure, there are some really likeable people out there that are very good salespeople, but there would be as many (if not more) who are wonderful people, but have no sales ability whatsoever. So you can’t let your ‘gut instinct’ lead the charge when it comes to making hiring decisions, well, not if you want to find top sales reps. Yes, there are many questions to ask in an interview – but which ones will give you useful information to help you determine if they would be a good fit?
1. Get them to bring along sales stats
Ask the candidate to bring their sales pipeline, critical ratios, and calendar to the interview and from here you can ask some detailed questions such as “what was your best month?” And “what drove sales in that month?” If you then look at this information, and reference the calendar – is there matching activity there to validate that revenue sold? This is a perfect way to ensure that what you are being told is indeed correct. Hopefully a majority of the time it will be, but it is your job to filter out embellishments.
2. What questions should I be asking you that will demonstrate that you’re the right candidate?
This may have some candidates stumped – but the best ones will be able to come up with a good answer that shows they can think on the spot, something that is always required of salespeople out in the field in front of prospects and customers. It is also a great way to see whether they understand what makes someone a successful salesperson. Look for candidates who are able to offer something new and original.
3. Why have you been successful?
And what could you do to be more successful? While the first half of the question allows them to describe what makes them a good salesperson, the second part provides an opportunity for the candidate to open up about any areas of weakness that they may have. Being able to have this self-awareness of any areas for improvement doesn’t necessarily need to be a red flag either (we all have them) but if they can identify them, and perhaps provide insight into how they could overcome them, then there might be a possibility of managing this weakness if they do come on board. Of course, this question could also uncover some real problems, and will mean you can not move any further with their application.
4.What’s the best example you can give me about overcoming adversity? What did you learn?
Again this is a good ‘on-the-spot’ question, requires real self-awareness into times they have struggled. It is probably best to ask for work examples here, but a personal story could still be appropriate. What is important is getting an engaging insight into what they learnt from the experience – how this relates to who they are today.
5.What’s the single most important thing about you that you’ve changed? And why did you change?
For someone to realise they had an area of weakness, and were able to take steps to remedy it, means they have the ability to change when required. By understanding this about a candidate, you can know whether they will be able to adapt to the unique sales process, and their selling style, for your business. This is a key strength for an individual to have, and getting a good answer to this question will provide valuable insight for your decision-making.
After meeting with a variety of candidates, you will no doubt have stand-outs – but just remember to recognise where gut-feel comes into play, and how it isn’t actually able to accurately predict whether a salesperson will be successful or not. It is important to try and make rational decisions based on facts, knowledge about mindset vs sales skills, and if possible – using a pre-hire sales assessment.