Interviewing sales candidates does not need to be a mystery. View this as a chance to significantly improve your sales team.
Unfortunately, most Sales Managers simply “wing it” when it comes to choosing the best salespeople. And that approach almost always leads to problems.
Interviewing sales candidates is different.
The person in front of you has been conditioned from the beginning of their career to take control of the situation. But if you are going to hire the best person, YOU need to be in control of this situation.
It is easy to get off track and confused during the interview. Having a specific goal keeps the interview on track and you in control. The goal of the interview is to predict success.
Determine if the person sitting across the desk will be successful on your job. That needs to be the focus.
To determine success, two things need to happen. First, success needs to be defined. Success on the job has two components .. the person needs to deliver the desired results and deliver those result in the appropriate manner. They have to sell the right number and size deals with the necessary product mix and margins. And, they need to carry out the business in a manner that is consistent with success in the company. Simply put, they have to behave in the correct manner.
Second, with your template of success in hand, the next step is to predict how the person will handle the tasks and situations of the job. How do they prospect? How do they manage sales campaigns? How do they negotiate contracts? How do they work as part of a sales team?
These are a few of the questions that need to be asked to determine if the person will be successful.
The Behavioral Model
The best way to predict a person’s behavior is to use the behavioral model. The behavioral model states: Past Behavior Predicts Future Behavior. This means that how a person has handled the same or similar situations in the past is how they will handle them in the future. This is a powerful principle.
Using the behavior model, focus all the inquiries during the interview on how the person has handled the same or similar situations to those they will face on your job. Ask about closing deals if they will need to close deals. Ask about selling to executives if they will need to sell to executives.
Here are a couple of additional points to help get the best information. Interview in correct chronological order. Start at the beginning of the person’s career and move toward the present. Keep your questions in the PAST tense. The questions should always be, “What DID you do” instead of “What WOULD you do”.
What To Avoid
There are a number if myths associated with interviewing sales candidates. Here are a few things to stay away from:
Being unprepared – you would never go into a sales call unprepared so never go into an interview unprepared. Have the success template and the interview questions prepared in advance.
Losing Control – controlling the interview simply means getting the information in the time allotted. Ask good, effective questions to remain in control.
Expecting The Candidate To Sell You – this is one of the worst myths. The goal in the interview is to predict success. The best way to predict success is to use the behavioral model and focus on past behavior. Get examples of how the person sold in specific situations in the past.
A good interview is dependent on asking good sales interview questions. Ask good questions to get good data. Ask bad questions and you get bad data and make hiring mistakes.
In conclusion, interviewing sales candidates is critical to the success of all sales team. You are only as good as your people. The better you get at choosing new salespeople, the more successful you will be.