Interviews are an opportunity to see which sales candidate is the best fit for your company and for the position. Asking candidates specific questions about their skills, job experience, and career ambition will help you match a candidate’s qualifications with your current opportunity. Consider asking these seven fundamental questions in your next interview to help you find your ideal sales candidate.
1. What are you looking to do next in your career?
This may seem like a pretty general question, but it actually tells a lot about what kind of sales environment the candidate wants for themselves. If there is an opening for an account manager role, for example, and somebody ultimately sees themselves as a hunter and wants to do business development, then it’s not going to be a match. Asking a candidate what they want for themselves and where they want to go next in their career is the best way to know if their ambitions line up with the current opening and future opportunities at the company. If a candidate has intentions to go into leadership and they’re interested in a position with a lot of opportunity for upward movement, then you know their career path is in line with the current opening.
2. Describe your current territory (number / type of accounts, geographic area)
It is important to match candidates that have experience covering a similar territory. Do you have 300 small and medium business targeted prospect accounts you want to cover within a major metro area, but the candidate is used to calling on 10 large businesses in a 3 state area? The volume and type of accounts have a tremendous impact on reps’ activity on a daily basis. It will be key to try to find candidates with a similar territory environment.
3. What kind of prospecting approaches and strategies do you use?
The answer to this question will provide some insight into how a salesperson is able to perform and make their numbers on a daily basis. Do they show that strong fire and fight to cold call people? Are they resilient and solicit people to try and get new business? Finding out the answer to these questions will let you know what type of salesperson the candidate is and if that matches up with what you’re looking for.
4. What are you currently selling and what have you sold in the past?
Asking a candidate about what they are currently selling and have sold in the past will help you determine if their skill set is in the range of your product. Are they selling a large product or are they selling professional services? There is a big difference between selling a complex capital equipment for $15 million and selling an intangible, professional service that is $5,000 per project. Once you figure out this information, you can then see how this stacks up against what the current opening will be required to sell.
5. What is your average deal size and sales cycle?
Finding out the average deal size and sales cycle of a sales rep will also help you match applicable experience level with what you want to hire. Are they used to closing deals in a month to three months maximum? Or are they dealing with a strategic sale that takes one to two years with a very large deal price? It’s all about putting the pieces of the puzzle together and these answers are part of that equation.
6. What kind of selling system have you been using?
This question will help you learn how much training or ramp up time the sales candidate will need and what kind of adjustment they will have to make. Is the candidate tracking prospects on an excel spreadsheet with little coaching or advice from a sales leader? Or are they using a solid selling system that’s in place and being inspired and coached by a sales leader? The candidate’s work environment will have a lot of influence with how they perform in a new culture and environment.
7. Describe in detail how you organize your time?
In today’s sales world, sales reps need to be organized in order to be successful. How is the candidate keeping tracking of their prospects? How do they go back to prospects that need to be turned over to clients or know when they’re going to call someone back when they say they’re going to? In addition to managing their prospect and client relations, how is the candidate organizing their day,week, month, quarter? It’s very important to get examples of how a sales candidate is organized and is able to self manage themselves.
These are fundamental questions to ask during sales interviews, but they should also be tweaked for every position, based on different requirements. Asking these questions during the interview process will help quickly narrow down who is a fit, and who is not a fit.
What questions do you ask during a sales interview that give you the most insight?