Not sure what to ask a sales candidate in an interview? Check out these 10 questions to find out if you have a champion or not.
Ask a sales candidate in a job interview, “What’s your greatest strength?” and you may get an answer that sounds like a line from your job description. The key to getting good information about your candidate is to ask good questions.
Here are 10 great questions to include in your interview process for sales roles:
1. What is a qualified buyer to you?
A rep that doesn’t qualify a buyer will waste valuable time chasing low-probability prospects. A good response is: target account; decision-maker, sufficient budget, realistic time frame for delivery, needs we can meet, terms and conditions we agree to, etc.
2. What words do you use on a cold call when talking with a gatekeeper?
You do not want to hear: “I would say something about our products or company…” What you really want are their actual words; like a 30-second role-play. A good response: a well-rehearsed script that does not sound scripted.
3. At what point will you walk away from a sale?
If their response is “never,” you might want to keep looking. Persistence is admirable, but experienced salespeople know when to stop wasting time with the wrong buyer and move on. A good response: if the buyer is not qualified.
4. After a sale is made, what is your process for acquiring referrals?
In some industries, referral requests are made immediately after the sale. In other cases, only after they’ve been earned. Be wary of “referral-heavy” sales reps. They may avoid prospecting and only want “warm calls”. A good response: setting a referral appointment with a satisfied customer.
5. In your opinion, what is the best way to present price?
You want to learn how much your candidate understands and follows a sales process. A good response: for the price to be “wrapped in value” rather than the undesirable method: show product – present price – offer discount.
6. What are your three best questions for a first appointment?
A good response is a set of business-focused, issue-specific questions. Evaluate their answers: How well-crafted are their questions? Are they relevant? Would they get the prospect talking about their issues and objectives?
7. How do you define a successful first appointment?
Answers will vary somewhat by industry. You’re looking for someone who wants to position themselves as a trusted advisor and qualify the buyer. A good response will indicate that they gather enough information to clearly determine next steps—even if that means walking away.
8. What words do you use to close a sale?
It’s surprising how many salespeople don’t know this. You’ll get a sense of their confidence level, experience, and communication skills. A good response will be free from manipulation and pressure, and focused on taking the next natural step.
9. What are two ideas you learned from the last book you read on selling?
This question is better than asking about the last book they read about selling. It assumes they read. If they haven’t, you’ll know because it reveals if your applicant evaluates, retains, and applies what they’ve read.
10. How do you acquire leads to fill your pipeline?
Make them give specific answers. Depending on your industry and process, a salesperson that is used to receiving warm leads or having first appointments set for them may not fit your needs. A good response contains details about proactive methods for acquiring self-generated leads.
You’ll have to adapt your process to the situation. For a telesales rep, an entry-level position, or a rookie with little sales experience transferring from another department, some of these may not apply. When interviewing your next sales candidate, questions like these will help you determine if you’re really dealing with a pro.