Interviewing A Sales Person

The most difficult part of a sales manager’s job.

Without a doubt the most challenging part of being a sales manager is finding the right sales people to make up your sales team. It’s vitally important to find the right people because as a sales manager you live and die with your team. If you have a team of underperformers it will not only reflect badly on you but in the end it will most likely they are giving you and the company their all…a full 100%. Just like a manager of any sports team to you to be constantly doing everything you can to field the best team possible.

So with that in mind you can make your life a lot easier if you hire the right people in the first place. As a consultant working with and coaching sales managers I am always on the lookout for any tips, tools, ideas and guidelines that will help me to help my sales managers find and hire the very best sales people they can find.

I came across this list while searching the web. It is a list of interview questions put together by one of the country’s leading sales recruiters Ken Sundheim and I thought there were some very good ones that I would like to pass on in this column. The title of Ken’s article is “50 Questions to Ask before Hiring Sales Employees” and you can find it on the Forbes/Entrepreneurs web site. I’m not going to list all fifty of them and I might even add one or two of my own.

So here are some of the best questions to ask when interviewing to fill your next sales position:

  1. What motivates you as a sales professional?
  2. How would you describe the corporate culture of your past company?
  3. What traits to you believe make up the most effective sales representatives?
  4. How comfortable are you with cold calling? (Let me comment, this is one of the most important question you can ask on an interview. And make sure you get the candidates commitment that he or she is going to do some cold calling. In my opinion a sales person who is not comfortable cold calling is not a sales person)
  5. How long was the sales cycle at your last job?
  6. What were your most profitable target markets at your previous jobs?
  7. How would you describe your sales techniques?
  8. How would you describe your ideal sales manager? (Listen to this answer very carefully)
  9. Give me an example of when you’ve prospected a lead creatively, and what steps you took to do so.
  10. Where would you like to see yourself improve in the area of sales?
  11. What does the term “consultative selling” mean to you?
  12. How much was an average sale at your last job?
  13. Give me an example of how you handled a difficult client in order to get the sale, and what did you learn from the experience? (I love this one. And don’t let the candidate off the hook which is easy to do make him/her answer this one).
  14. What was a typical day like in your past position?
  15. Can you give me an example pitch of the product or service you were selling at your previous position? (And for heaven’s sake do not ask her to sell you your pen! That’s as old as the hills).
  16. What types of managers do you learn best under?
  17. How do you define success?
  18. How would you describe the selling style of your last manager?
  19. Where do you see yourself in one, three and five years?
  20. How would you describe your ideal sales position?
  21. What kind of customer relationship tracking did you implement at your last job?

And now a few of my own:

  1. Would you like to have my job as the sales manager of this company?
  2. What would you say your knowledge of our product is?
  3. How often do you feel you should visit customers?
  4. If you spend a day at your desk what are you doing?
  5. What do you know about marketing?
  6. In your opinion what is marketing
  7. Are trade shows effective?
  8. If we send you to a trade show what will your plan be to get the best bang for the buck?
  9. If you were not selling this product or having to have this job what would you like to do?
  10. What is the last book your read?
  11. When was the last time you attended a seminar or webinar of lecture about selling?
  12. How long do you expect to have this job?

I know these are a lot of questions but they are all important. Important questions that will lead to doing the best you can in hiring the best person you can for your sales team.

Remember hiring the right people for your team is the most important thing you can do as a sales manager so take the time to do it right. It’s only common sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *