10 Revealing Interview Questions To Ask Sales Candidates

Not sure what interview questions to ask sales candidates? Check out these ten to find out if you have a champion or not.

Asking sales candidates in job interviews, “What’s your greatest strength?” may get you an answer that sounds like a line from your job description. The key to getting good information about your candidate is to ask good sales focused questions. That way, your confidence when interviewing goes up.

Here are 10 great questions to include in your interview process for sales candidates:

1. What is a qualified buyer to you?

A sales candidate that doesn’t qualify a buyer will waste valuable time chasing low-probability prospects. A good response to this question will refer to things like: ensuring they are selling to target accounts; meeting with the true decision-maker, identifying if the buyer has sufficient budget, understanding and agreeing upon a realistic time frame for delivery, they have specific needs your products and services can meet, mutually agreed upon terms and conditions, etc.

2. What words do you use on a cold call when talking with a gatekeeper?

You do not want to hear: I would introduce myself and say something about our products or company… What you really want are their actual words; like in a 30-second role-play. A good response: a well-rehearsed set of words and phrases that do not sound scripted. They are delivered in a confident tone. They reveal a value proposition that moves the gatekeeper to transfer the rep to a contact within the organization or gets the decision-maker to keep talking.

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: I will quickly walk away 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 have been a sales rep who generated leads through existing accounts that they inherited. A good response: I get referrals from my satisfied customers when I’ve earned their trust.

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. Ask them specifically how they present price. A good response: I wrap the price 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 to the buyer? 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. In other words, they have a plan before they go in. They’re not looking for a quick sale. Instead, a good response will indicate that they gather sufficient information to clearly determine the 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 you 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. Therefore, a good response contains details about proactive methods for acquiring self-generated leads.

You’ll have to adapt your process to the situation. That means 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. Here’s a great article about interview questions to give you more insight.