How Should You Interview Sales Professionals?

I’m often asked, “What’s the best way to interview Sales Professionals?”

Let’s face it, these are some of the most difficult people to interview and assess because they’re good at selling themselves and they do so on a daily basis.

As Jim Durbin points out, “so anyone who has ever held a sales position and had any success should be able to convince you they know what they’re doing. Most Account Managers can worm their way into a position.”

This is very true. The truth of the matter is that there is no easy answer, but rather the solution is found when you combine a number of tried and tested approaches.

One thing he suggests is to ask candidates to write down a schedule of a normal day/week in their current role. Another option for them (as they continue moving through your interview process) is to have them assume they’ll get the job and tell them that under that assumption they need to write down their schedule for their first week, the first 30 days, and the first 90 days with your company.

Personally, I think your best bet is to do what Paramount Recruiting Partners, LLC has always done. We create SEVERAL LAYERS to our process and VERIFY EVERYTHING time and time again during each and every step.

If there’s a slight variation in an answer they give to a particular question we’ll focus our attention on that area in the event that we’re on to something and on the road to possibly uncovering a half-truth and/or a blatant lie.

That’s not to say that I don’t like this other suggested approach. I would just use my own variation. I would ask them to write me a “business plan,” but would ask them to tie it all back to the concept “What Commitment Means To Me” and I do this because I’ve found it gives me additional insight into their personality and motivators.

Keep in mind that these do not need to be too complicated. A single page will do just fine. In fact, asking them to do all of this on a single page will also help you determine whether or not they are good listeners and/or can follow directions (pretty important stuff to consider when hiring Sales Professionals wouldn’t you say?)

The point to all of this is to improve the way you hire these types of individuals and increase your success rate.

Jim Durbin concludes nicely by offering the real benefits to this type of approach…

“If they do a good job you have a roadmap they have committed to if you hire them. If they give you incomplete information, you can work with them to create a timetable that looks right, practicing working together prior to actually hiring them.

In their head, you want to create the image of them working alongside you. You want to create the visual image of what it’s like to work with you as a manager. If it’s a bad fit, the two of you realize it quickly. And most important, it takes the focus off of the hiring process, where everyone wants to be liked, and puts it on the working process, where everybody makes money.”

And if that doesn’t work for you please give me a call at 716-805-8940. I would be more than happy to assist you with your recruiting needs.

Views: 37

Comment by Ray Towle on January 17, 2008 at 5:32pm
Jeff,

I hand them my list of 22 Core Competencies of Successful Salespeople; and I ask them to review the list in detail.

I then tell them that I'm getting myself a cup of water, tea, or coffee and I offer to get them one. I return in about 3 minutes . . .

Then I ask them . . . of those 22 Core Competencies of Successful Salespeople which ones are your strongest and why?

After clarifying their answer I then ask them, and of those 22 Core Competencies of Successful Salespeople which ones are your in need of some improvement and why?

Example #22: Can Demonstrate a Track Record of Successful Sales Performance: a) Candidate has a track record of successful performance. b) Candidate possess proof of relevant past sales successes. c) Candidate is within the top 10% or the top 25% of her or his peers . . or has not.

It has worked for me: Results! Numbers! Percentages! Ratios! Data!

All the Best!

Ray Towle
+++
p.s. My favorite quote about sales . . . "Life is pain. Anyone that tells you differently is selling something" from The Princesses Bride.
Comment by Jeffrey K. Radt on January 21, 2008 at 10:31am
Ray,

Thanks for taking the time to share your insight as well as the details regarding your specific approach in this area.

Jeff

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