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An interview presents an ideal opportunity to identify the best candidate for your company. You get to learn about their career ambitions, job experience, and skill level.

The information you glean helps you match them to available positions. For every available position, there are questions that interviewers should consider asking.

Here are seven worthwhile questions to ask when hiring new sales representatives.

Hiring Sales Representatives – 7 Questions to Ask

  1. What do you want to do in your next line of work?
  2. Describe your present territory?
  3. What kind of strategies and prospecting approaches do you apply?
  4. What are you selling, and what have you sold in the past?
  5. What is your average sales cycle and deal size?
  6. What kind of sales tools do you tend to use?
  7. In detail, describe how you normally organize your time?

1. What do you want to do in your next line of work?

For some, this is nothing more but a general question. But for skilled interviewers, the answer tells them a lot about the candidate’s perceptions.

Asking them their plans allows you to see whether your visions align. You get to see whether they will fit well in your company. It’s a question that looks beyond the present and into the future. Candidates interested in upward mobility will easily stand out.

Many will say so from the get-to, stressing the need to become leaders. That’s how you determine whether they’re a fit for the current position.

2. Describe your present territory? (Geographic Area, Number/Type of Accounts)

You’ve got to make sure candidates get matched with familiar territories. Ask yourself, how many SMEs do you want the candidate to cover? Compare this with the number the candidate covers at the moment.

The type and volume of accounts impact the activities of the rep. Establish whether your rep deals with metro areas or targeted prospect accounts. Make it a point to recruit candidates matching the type of territory you want to be covered.

3. What kind of strategies and prospecting approaches do you apply?

Pay attention to the answer given. It provides much-needed insight into how the reps get to meet their numbers. Reps have to meet a daily target. This means checking whether they have the fire required to make cold pitching.

Is your candidate resilient enough to try and solicit new clients? How do they intend to go about finding new clients? When you find the answers to these, you get to know the rep better. It’s a chance to better understand the candidate’s approach to sales.

4. What are you selling, and what have you sold in the past?

Here, you are looking at the candidate’s skill set. Past and present products assist you to know if they can sell your products.

Right now, are they selling professional services or a large product? Differences exist between selling intangible services with tangible products.

You can’t compare selling a $15 million equipment to a $5,000 project. Information provided helps you make a comparison. You’re now better placed to see how the candidate’s skills stack to your needs. You need to know that they can easily sell what you’re selling.

5. What is your average sales cycle and deal size?

Deal size and sales cycle are meant to look at the experience level. Match the applicant’s experience with the rep you want to recruit.

Ask how long it takes the rep to close a given deal. Does it take thirty days, sixty, or as much as three months? Alternatively, is the sales rep dealing with strategic deals?

If so, does it take a year or two, and bring a big price? Your aim here is to try and put the puzzle pieces together. Answers given by the candidate are a part of this process.

6. What kind of sales tools do you tend to use?

The purpose of this question is to determine the ramp up time. It also helps you determine how much training is required.

By putting it forward, you also want to know their adjustment rate. How long will the candidate take to adjust to the new environment?

In terms of tracking, does he or she use an excel sheet? Will the candidate require extra advice from the sales leader? Inquire whether the sales rep is used to a solid sales system.

From this, you will learn whether they have received inspiration from leaders. The work environment also impacts their performance. All of this will influence how they will work once they are on board.

7. In detail, describe how you normally organize your time?

A modern rep has to be organized for them to succeed. This calls for you to establish how they track their prospects.

Establish how they approach prospects that should be converted to customers. Additionally, how do they determine when to call back, after promising to do so.

Apart from managing client and prospect relations, how’s their personal organization? You need to know how each candidate organizes their day, week, and quarter.

There’s a need for you to get firsthand examples of their personal and professional organization. Use information provided to establish whether the candidate is in a position to self-manage.

Two Exercises for the Second Interview

Candidates often have to go through more than one interview. Those that pass the first stage proceed to the next series. You can use the following exercises for the 2nd and 3rd interviews.

The exercises are mainly meant to uncover their aptitude levels. This is in reference to managerial roles in the sales department.

90-Day Business Plan

Prior to the 2nd interview, have candidates prepare a plan. The plan can either be a 60 or 90-day business plan.

The purpose of this plan is to establish their capacity to progress. It uncovers how they would transition into team leaders and managers. It also outlines the first steps that they would take once they are promoted.

SWOT Analysis

Each candidate should come up with a SWOT analysis.

In it, they should indicate their strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, they should also indicate the opportunities and threats posed to them. This is in terms of what the role will mean to them.

How to Include the Sales Team During the Interviews

Interviews don’t have to be performed by one person.

Including your team increases accuracy and eliminates first impression biases. It also enhances your chances of hiring the best candidate.

But how do you go about including your team members? Let’s find out…

1. Organize the interview team

While there’s no set number to include, go for at least three. This can be the Sales VP, sales team leader, and HR leader.

Any other person involved in the hiring process can also be considered. Additionally, check their availability for the coming days.

2. Each member should have a criteria or dimension

You can get the most from the process through targeting. Each member of the hiring team should focus on a given aspect.

For instance, one can focus on integrity and character. Another member can focus on selling ability and motivation.

The members will then ask questions related to their focus areas. It helps to eliminate redundancy in the interviews.

Start by choosing the dimensions you think are vital. This is for the company and the available position.

3. Have a criteria for the perfect candidate

Members who haven’t interviewed for the firm may not know what to consider. The same applies to those who haven’t hired reps before.

You should have a criterion on what to focus on. Members ought to have access to phrases or words to listen to.

Conclusion

All these are fundamental questions you have to ask a sales representative. However, you can always tweak them depending on the available position.

How you tweak them is also influenced by the hiring requirements. By asking them, you get to quickly narrow down the candidates’ list.

It becomes easier to know who is right for your firm and who isn’t. In the long run, it makes finding the right candidate much easier.

Author

Ollie uses social selling every day to learn and develop new ways to create conversations and reach prospects. Outside of the office he's an avid Liverpool FC fan and regularly watches his local football team play or plays pool every week. You can connect with Ollie on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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