By: Mara Miller
Advice is readily available for candidates all over the internet to prepare for interviews. However, guidance for hiring managers and determining who is a good hire is limited. Anyone trying to avoid making a poor hiring decision can be frustrated by this. If you’re not convinced the candidate sitting in front of you is “the One,” hiring the right sales candidate is daunting.
The goal of any interview and potential hire is not to find someone just “good enough.” The goal is to find the person who fits your business needs. To do this, you need to have an open mind, a willingness to be patient, and to ignore the urge to hire out of fear.
To prove you are hiring the best candidate, they must meet the benchmarks established before the interview. The behavioral questions you ask should reveal those abilities. The best candidate will provide solid, repeated examples.
Remember: just because they were successful in another sales environment does not mean they will be successful in yours.
With that in mind, here are ten (10) critical questions to ask yourself to confirm whether or not you have the right person for the job.
1. How are their communication skills?
Good communication skills are needed for a salesperson to be successful in their position. Ask questions that involve decision-making and address conflict. How are they at telling stories? Listen to their answers. Ask follow-up questions as needed. Also, listen to how they are answering. Listen to their tone, pace, and clarity. Were the answers to your interview questions confident? Did the information provided make sense or was it vague? Did their tone reflect the sentiment of their words?
2. Have they demonstrated leadership skills?
How have they proven to be responsible, trustworthy, and reliable? If faced with mistakes, how did they hold themselves accountable? How do they like to be managed? How would they manage other people? On a team, what responsibilities do they typically take on? At some point, the candidate in front of you may be in charge of your team. Ask what qualities they possess for a responsible leadership position. Their answer will give you an understanding of how they view themselves.
3. How’s their energy?
The sales role requires a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the products. What kind of energy does the candidate have? What are their passions? Do they seem engaged? Are they asking good questions?
4. Have they proven they are a team player?
Based on their answers, would your staff benefit from having this candidate join the team? Would the candidate look to his team as a support system or a hindrance? Candidates who are good team players can also be coachable.
5. Are they competitive?
Selling is all about driving and having a healthy competitive side. Have they played sports? Been on the dean’s list? If they worked in sales previously, where did they rank on their sales team? Why do they think they would be the best choice for the position?
6. Are they able to handle stressful situations?
Sales and stress typically go hand in hand. You need to test them to ensure they can handle it. Have they met deadlines? Achieved their targets? Have they successfully managed challenging clients?
7. How do they deal with rejection?
In sales, dealing with rejection without having it drag them down is critical. They should be able to talk about their experiences. You’ll want to understand how they dealt with it. Plus, listen if they came back stronger. Were they able to continue calling even after hearing “No” repeatedly? Do they take the first “No?” How many times do they ask for the sale?
8. How do they deal with objections?
In sales, they will inevitably hear objections from prospective customers. Can they provide examples of overcoming objections or persuading customers to their way of thinking? Was it done with confidence? Credibility? How do they handle them? How should a price objection be handled? Do they become stressed over the objections? Or do they understand it is just a part of the job?
9. Did they successfully sell themselves to you as the right person to hire?
Were they able to convince you to hire them? Did they “ask” for the “sale?”
10. Have they met all the required competencies for the position?
Did they meet your required benchmarks? Does the personality assessment result match the job position? Do they have transferable skills? What are their soft skills? What are their hard skills?
With the candidate’s resume, assessment results, interview answers, and notes, you are well on your way to making a solid decision.
Candidates can learn the skills they need on the job. However, their experience, knowledge, and skills should align with your company’s needs.