The sales function is the lifeblood of any business, and hiring the right sales candidates is critical to the success of any company.
A study conducted by the Sales Management Association found that top salespeople can be up to 10 times more productive than their lower-performing colleagues. In addition, high-performing salespeople tend to better understand customer needs, have higher levels of engagement, and have stronger relationships with clients. As a result, a superstar salesperson can generate significantly more revenue for their company, increase customer loyalty, and help to drive business growth.
To help combat a merry-go-round of bad hires costing your company time and money, hiring managers need to understand that the interview process is crucial in assessing a candidate’s potential fit for a sales position.
Start With What You’re Looking For in a Sales Candidate
Even before you start recruiting, it’s essential to know what you’re looking for in a candidate and create a list of competencies to look for during the interview. Define your ideal candidate by creating a detailed job description with the skills, experience, and personality traits you want. Consider the nature of your business, your target market, and your sales process. This will help attract the right candidates and avoid wasting time on unsuitable applicants.
Once you know what you are looking for, then it’s time to create your question guide.
The Five Best Interview Questions For Sales Candidates
The best interview questions will always stem from the analysis of the particular job role developed as part of your job description. But, the following five questions provide some of the most important components of most sales jobs, such as the candidate’s process, ability to generate leads, handling rejection, time management, and achievements.
Sales Interview Question 1- Process: Can you walk me through your sales process?
What should you be listening for: A successful salesperson must have a structured and defined sales process that they can explain to a potential employer. This question helps you to assess the candidate’s ability to sell by understanding their sales process. The candidate’s answer should include how they identify leads, their approach to prospecting, how they qualify leads, and how they close deals. An excellent sales process should also include how the salesperson handles customer objections, follow-up after the sale, and how they stay in touch with clients for the long term.
Sales Interview Question 2 – Lead Generation: How do you generate new leads?
What you should be listening for: Generating leads is a critical function of a salesperson’s job. The candidate’s response should give you an idea of how they plan to generate new business. The answer may include cold-calling, attending events, networking, and online marketing. The candidate should also have a deep understanding of the industry they will be selling in and be able to identify the ideal target market.
Sales Interview Question 3 – Handling Rejection: Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a difficult objection or rejection from a customer.
What you should be listening for: The ability to handle rejection is critical in sales, and a skilled salesperson will have a process for managing objections. This question helps you assess how the candidate handles rejection and whether they can turn a difficult situation into a positive outcome. The ideal response should include how the candidate identified and addressed the customer’s concerns and how they were able to close the sale. Also, make sure the example they provided is a similar level of difficulty they would experience at your company. If they give you an example of someone who sounds like a pushover, that’s a sign they may not be a good fit.
Sales Interview Question 4 – Time Management: How do you prioritize your sales pipeline and manage your time effectively?
What you should be listening for: A successful salesperson should have a system for prioritizing their sales pipeline. This question helps you to determine the candidate’s time management skills and approach to organizing their workload. The candidate’s response should give you an idea of how they allocate their time-to-sales activities and manage their sales pipeline effectively.
Sales Interview Question 5 – Sales Achievements: Can you share with me your most successful sale and how you achieved it?
What you should be listening for: This question helps you to assess the candidate’s ability to sell by understanding their previous sales achievements. The candidate’s response should include how they identified the opportunity, presented the product or service, overcame any objections, and ultimately closed the sale. It is also essential to understand how the salesperson maintained the relationship with the client and what the long-term benefits were.
Time to Start Building Your Sales Team
Hiring sales candidates requires a strategic approach. Take the time to define your ideal candidate, look for relevant experience and assess their sales skills. Remember that the ideal candidate should be an effective communicator, have excellent time management skills, and be able to handle rejection effectively.
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