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5 Questions you want to ask when interviewing a new salesperson

02 November 2020

By Ursula Colman

 5 Questions you want to ask when interviewing a new salesperson
Getting it right

You’re hiring a new team member, but the interviewing process isn’t easy. How do you make sure you get the best person with the right qualities? Drop a few insightful questions into your interview notes and let them do the hard work for you.

Your new team member needs to be driven and adept at building customer relationships, but they’re fronting your company, so they’ve got to be reputable too.

Focus on growth
1. What actions have you taken to improve your sales performance, and how have you gone beyond what your company has asked of you to strengthen your position?

Separate the great from the good. It’s about reflective practice and how far someone is willing to go to improve and grow. “Someone likely to be a top-performing sales leader has a growth mindset” according to David Hoffield, CEO and Chelf Sales Trainer of Hoffeld Group. He goes on to say “They believe sales abilities are like a muscle you can continually strengthen, and not a fixed mindset where you are either born or not born as a salesperson”. It’s about action and not just intention.

Unearth relevant skills
2. What is your current sales process?

Ask the candidate to take you briefly through every step from start to finish. They may be working in a different sector, but their response is relevant. Don’t attempt to predict if they’ll fit into your sales process, instead examine whether their methods offer a similar root to market. Using this approach, you’ll work out whether their experience provides the best fit for the new job.

Where’s their joy?
3. What is your least favourite part of the sales process?

Motivation and drive are vital elements of a career in sales. People who love what they do are more likely to do it well. If there’s a substantial element of what they don’t like doing in the position on offer, they’re probably not the right candidate, but if it’s virtually absent, they may be the one you’re looking for. Find out more by asking them about what they do to make that aspect of their job more enjoyable.

How do they conquer failure?
4. Tell me about a time you lost a sale. Why did the loss happen? What did you learn from it?

You’ll gain a few crucial insights from this question. Every salesperson has lost sales during their career, but it’s their approach to this that makes the difference. Look out for candidates who are quick to point the finger at others. In contrast, those who take full responsibility will have seen the defeat as an opportunity to learn. Proactive and positive, they use previous lessons to prevent future mistakes.

How does the candidate measure up?
5. What are you achieving against your sales targets? What are your objectives, and how do you match up against them?

Sales is a numbers game, and the figures will speak for themselves. An ambitious, driven candidate with a good skill set is more likely to be smashing their targets. Someone who is underachieving or unaware of their goals may be less organised and a weaker candidate.

The final word

After considering these things, ask yourself whether your customers would like them and how badly do they want the job. Handpicking a recruit is a responsible undertaking, but with the right questions to hand, you’re more likely to make the best choice.

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