Hiring the right salespeople that will fit into the culture of your business as well as possessing great sales skills is a tough task. However, asking the right questions of prospective candidates can simplify the process.
Building a strong sales team is reliant on hiring people that can hit their quotas, are able to handle rejection and remain persistent without coming across as aggressive. It is therefore important to understand as much as you can about prospective candidates during the interview process.
To do this, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten questions to ask to help you get a good handle of the person you’re interviewing.
1. How do you keep track of your target market?
This is a great question to ask as it will help you understand the candidate’s ability to recognise issues that are affecting their prospects’ industries. Encourage them to discuss the relevant magazines and blogs they regularly read to understand the trends and topics of the market they operate in.
2. How much time do you spend building customer relationships vs searching for new clients?
Depending on the role or type of salesperson you’re looking for, this can be an important question to identify whether the candidate is the right fit for your business. Both of these tasks are a vital skill for any salesperson, but this will help you assess their experience level and the skills that they would bring to your business.
3. How do you research new prospects before a meeting?
Building on the previous question, this provides you insight into how the candidate goes about assessing new prospects’ issues and challenges and presenting your company as the solution. Be sure to look out for candidates that are aware of the need to use social media tools like LinkedIn and company blogs for prospecting purposes.
4. How do you use content in your selling process?
Content is now a vital tool in the salesperson’s ability to attract and win new business. An interviewee that uses, or demonstrates the value of using, content provided to them by marketing teams and uses social channels to research prospects and search out leads is likely to be a strong candidate. Try to encourage them to show a willingness to learn and discuss the role that content plays in sales.
5. What are your top three questions for every prospect?
This question will offer you insight into the candidate’s selling style and ability to qualify prospects. Their answer will give you a sense of their level of sales training, help you understand their sales mindset and, ultimately, uncover whether they are a prospect for your organisation.
Thinking wider afield, also consider asking candidates about their favourite questions to ask prospects. This will shine a light on their ability to get under the skin of a prospect’s challenges and thoroughly understand their needs.
6. How do you think our company could improve its sales organisation?
This can be a really tough question to answer, but it will help you see how much research the candidate has done before meeting you. It will also offer insight into their business credentials, creative thinking and sales acumen, as well as shedding light on how they see themselves fitting into your organisation.
7. If we hired you, what would you do in your first month?
Another approach to the previous question is to ask the candidate about the first steps they’d take and initial actions they’d make in their new role. Their answer doesn’t have to be hugely in-depth, or even correct, but it should show a willingness to understand your industry and/or customer base and show they’re a self-starter.
Also, consider asking the candidate about how they would go about exceeding expectations in the role they are applying for. You need to hire people who are keen to go above and beyond for your company, so this will help you understand their business aspirations and motivations.
8. How do you approach dealing with customer objections or complaints?
Being prepared to deal with the inevitable eventuality of an unhappy customer will tell you a lot about how the candidate deals with adversity. Also consider asking them about common customer objections that frustrate them and how they go about listening to, considering and validating those concerns then working with the customer to reach a solution. It’s important to build a sales team that can solve problems and think strategically in times of adversity.
9. How would you approach a short sales cycle compared to a long sales cycle?
A quality candidate should be able to recognise the different approach to short cycles, which is reliant on sales reps that can close a deal quickly, compared to long cycles, which need a more tentative, tailored approach.
You should also look to discover when the candidate decides to stop pursuing a prospect. Generally speaking, the more tenacious and persistent a salesperson is the better, but they also need to realise when they’re chasing a poor lead. So a candidate that’s comfortable with turning the wrong business away could potentially be a great hire.
10. Have you ever had a losing sales streak? And, if so, how did you end it?
One of the most important qualities of any salesperson is how they end a spell of bad luck and failed sales attempts. Not only do you need to be aware of any candidate who claims to have never suffered a losing streak, but understanding how they’ve overcome one is vital.
The list of questions you could ask of any sales candidate is bordering on endless, but these lines of enquiry will help you explore your prospective salesperson’s experience, skills and capabilities match those of your business. The interview process is all about discovering whether you’re compatible, so it’s key to understand what they’re looking to achieve and their career goals and how they see themselves settling into life with your organisation.