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. Here are 10 interview questions to ask your sales candidates 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. You may have a Farmer that needs you to provide leads for them. 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? How many leads did they generate, on average, each week? How did they define a lead? Was it just any contact within a company, an influencer, or a decision-maker? Have your sales candidate explain the details here. Otherwise, you might make assumptions about your candidate’s prospecting abilities that are not accurate.
3. What methods did you use to acquire leads?
Interview questions like this one flush out several prospecting options: Cold call phone? Cold call face-to-face? Networking? Referrals? Social media? Email marketing? If they acquired most of their leads through referrals and warm relationships, again, be careful if your job requires cold call prospecting. Again, 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 company does.
4. Where did you get your lead list?
Did their previous employer provide them a list of potential prospects to call or did they have to build the list themselves? What resources will you provide your sales rep if you hire them? This issue is really a function of time and effectiveness. Why? Because they could be selling instead of creating lead lists. You have to decide where their time is best spent. So, how much time each week 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 payouts based on sales and/or margins. 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. In addition, some companies lead with low price as the means for attracting buyers. Other, promote their services or unique product benefits and charge a higher price. Be sure you understand the pricing of your candidates previous employer. If it does not line up with your pricing model, then you need to be sure they don’t bring a conflicting price mindset to your company.
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. These differences can adversely affect sales results.
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 ones 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.
Use these 10 interview questions with your next sales candidate. Click here to view the original 10 interview questions. Click here to see another 10 interview. questions. Finally, check out this post as well.