Before hiring a sales rep, conduct an apples-to-apples job comparison. Line up the structure and activities of your sales job and your candidates current or previous sales job. Note any differences between the two jobs. Good interview questions enable you to do this. It’s easy to assume your sales candidate facilitated the same sales process and had a similar sales culture if they come from within the same industry or sold a similar product. To help you during your interview, here are 10 questions to ask your sales candidate about their current/previous sales role.
1. What % of leads were provided to you?
The more leads the company provided to them, the less likely you have a strong prospector. If you provide company-generated leads, then no worries. If you don’t, then don’t expect a sales rep who had their leads provided to them to immediately become a stellar prospector.
2. What % of leads did you have to generate yourself?
If they had to generate leads themselves, how much time did they dedicate to it each week? For further detail, go to the next question.
3. What methods did you use to acquire leads?
This interview question flushes out several prospecting options: Cold call phone? Cold call face-to-face? Networking? Referrals? If they acquired most of their leads through referrals and warm relationships, again, be careful if your job requires cold call prospecting. You may have a Farmer, not a Hunter. The probability of success goes up if they have experience acquiring leads in the same way your job does.
4. Where did you get your lead list?
Did their previous employer provide them a list of potentials to call or did they have to build the list themselves? What will you provide your sales rep if you hire them? This is really a function of time and effectiveness. How much time do you expect them to develop a lead list, if any? How many leads should they acquire in a given period of time?
5. What was your commission structure?
What was the split between salary and commissions? Were you paid on gross sales or margin? What was the bonus plan? What was the benefits package? Did you get residual commissions? Work through this so you know exactly how and what they got paid. Next, fully explain your commission plan and work through some examples – low, medium and high pay based on sales. Again, there should be no surprises for either of you.
6. What was your sales quota?
You need to know the dollar amount and the time frame. (ie. $1,000/day? $10,000/month? $1million/year?) How many products or services had to be sold in order to achieve that? How does that compare to your sales job?
7. What was the price point of the product/service you sold?
Small ticket sales reps can struggle with moving into big ticket sales. Transactional sales reps can struggle moving into consultative selling. Low entry sales reps (those that sell to middle and front-line managers) can struggle selling to the C-suite.
8. Who was your ideal customer?
Is their ideal customer profile the same as yours? If not, what are the differences? Consider things such as: buying cycles, selling to single buyer versus a committee, legal issues, regulatory issues, and level of buyer in the company.
9. When making sales, was it a team sell, Sales Manager assist, or did you go it alone?
This is a big issue. Many sales reps are successful because their sales manager would handle negotiations and close deals for them – at least the big one’s or more difficult sales. In many cases, this prevents the sales rep from developing their skills. You don’t want a low skilled sales rep who relied on their sales manager or technical experts to literally close their sales for them.
10. How much time, if any, did you spend doing data entry each week?
For call center reps, this is not much of an issue since they live in front of their computer screens. However, for outside reps, this becomes a problem if they’re required to do a lot of data entry and order entry during and after the sale. If they didn’t do much data entry, but you require a lot, you need to rethink your sales role. You don’t want expensive sales reps wasting time with 10$/hr work.