Sales Leadership Series - Effective Interviewing
Part one in a three part series (1 of 3).
We understand that building and maintaining a successful sales operation drives revenue and growth. As an occupation, the work is challenging and demanding. Sales professionals are high-risk, high-reward personalities who impact your revenue perhaps more than any other component of your company. They are the critical key to company success, and sales recruiting firms like Poise, aim to find the right fit.
Finding & Qualifying Top Prospects - Sound Familiar?
Sales success has many important components. Can we agree, finding, qualifying and nurturing prospects is the end goal? Of course it is and recruiting is no different!
We want to help you build a great sales team and this article will cover many of the important aspects of finding, qualifying and nurturing high-potential sales reps.
Finding High-potential Sales Reps
Inbound, outbound and advertising. Posting job ads will fill your inbox with resumes. We also view job advertising as a great branding mechanism. That said, our experience is 80%, or more, of job advertising applicants do not meet basic qualifications for the advertised role. Of the remaining applicants, perhaps 1-2 of them are good enough to consider, but good enough to hire? It would help if applicants only applied to jobs they are actually qualified for but easy "apply now" buttons make it a snap to apply and applicants want to play the numbers in hopes that interviews follow.
Job advertising builds your employment brand and creates lots of unqualified applicants to professionally disposition, otherwise, the brand experience is negative. While AI based applicant tracking software is making improvements around job advertising efficiency, we are eons away from eliminating the need for good recruiting.
In the business of recruiting, inbound leads might yield a placement but the rubber hits the road when we prospect targeted leads on your behalf. The reason being, top performing sales reps are not perusing job ads for better opportunity. Top performing sales reps are finding, qualifying and nurturing prospective clients as to close their next deal(s).
Poise recruiters utilize a number of telephone, social and in-person techniques to find those top sales reps, entice them into discussions and then qualify them for your role.
Qualifying Prospective Sales Reps
Now that we have found a handful of top prospects, which are best suited for your unique needs? We work collaboratively with candidates to see if a career opportunity is a good match. Step one is thoroughly understanding what you need in a sales rep and then we continuously calibrate per your candidate review and feedback.
You are an expert in sales, we are experts in interviewing. Consider some of the techniques we use to qualify prospective candidates on your behalf.
If you are looking for a particular skill set or attribute, what makes more sense, "Tell me about a time when you presented a SaaS product to a client." or "Present this SaaS product as though I am a prospective client." Without question, "show me" makes more sense.
using Working Interviews, we Observe Applicants Capabilities...
- Following instructions
- Demonstrating thorough results and creativity
- Proving experience through examples
- Explaining the process and meeting demands of the job
- Showing problem-solving skills and utilizing good resources
- How well they prepare and deliver. Speaking of, be sure to give them prep material for your next working interview!
Examples of Working Interviews
- Video interview w/mock web-presentation
- Telephone role-play
- In-person interview w/mock presentation
- Panel interview w/mock presentation
- Web-meeting w/mock presentation
Working Interviews w/Good Questions
While we are proponents of working interviews, its just as important to have conversations while asking smart, open-ended interviewing questions. Here are some we like:
Skill-Based Sales Interview Questions
- Overview your current quota and where you stand per the same. Successful sales reps know their numbers!
- How do you keep up to date on your target market? Even if the target market of their last job is totally different than that of the one they’re interviewing for, this will show you their ability to find and keep up to date with relevant trade publications and blogs and understand their active learning profile.
- Explain something to me. While this technically isn’t a question, it’s important to assess whether the candidate has a helpful demeanor and requires creative thinking. Take note of subject matter and how they present beginning, middle and end.
- In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating customer relationships versus hunting for new clients, and why? Certain companies and roles call for people better at farming or hunting, but look out for a person who performs one of these tasks to the exclusion of the other. Both are vital to selling well.
- What are some of your favorite questions to ask prospects? Salespeople today should be asking questions more than making pitches. Open-ended questions that help a rep thoroughly understand a prospect’s needs are as good as gold.
- What’s your approach to handling customer objections? Preparing to deal with objections instead of winging it is critical. Listen for evidence of a process.
- What role does social media play in your selling process? Social selling is becoming more important in all industries. If the candidate has not used social channels to research prospects or look for leads in the past, make sure they have a willingness to learn.
- What role does content play in your selling process? Again, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker if the salesperson doesn’t actively share and engage with content on their social media accounts, but they should at least want to start doing so.
- How do you research prospects before a call or meeting? What information do you look for Neglecting to use LinkedIn to research clients is not a viable option in today’s sales environment. Ensure that candidates are searching for personal commonalities in addition to professional information so they can tailor their communication as much as possible. Looking into company trigger events would be the cherry on top.
- If you were hired for this position, what would you do in your first month? The answer to this question doesn’t have to blow you away. However, the candidate should have some sort of action plan to get up and running. No matter how much training you provide, it’s still smart to hire a self-starter when you can.
- What do you think our company/sales organization could do better? This sales interview question serves two purposes: It shows how much research the candidate did before meeting with you, and it demonstrates their creative thinking and entrepreneurial capabilities.
It's important for sales leaders to remember, top prospects will interview you as well, so be prepared to answer questions and make great impressions! Once hired, treat sales reps like clients - always! Doing the same better positions you to retain them and sets an excellent "working example" of how you want your clients managed.
We hope you find the aforementioned both insightful into our process of supporting sales recruitment needs as well as useful per your own interviews.
Sources for this article are Leif Wennerstrom, Mr. Achourie, HubSpot, Insidesales.com, Inc and McKinsey&Company. Thanks guys!