How to interview sales people

Edited excerpt from The World’s Best Interview Question …and 4 other hiring tactics to avoid ending up with salespeople who can’t sell by Sonya Meloff and Jamie Scarborough:

1. In the first 30 minutes of your initial interview, decide if you would buy from them. Put yourself in the mind of a potential customer. Have a conversation and allow them to engage with you. If, after 30 minutes, the answer is “no,” reject them from the process. If the answer is “yes,” progress the candidate to a much more rigorous analysis.

2. Find some proof that they have a strong work ethic. The clearest evidence is someone who knows their own performance numbers extremely well because hard workers love to be measured. The best reps discuss their performance history proudly and confidently both on their resume and in-person.

3. Dig into their sales metrics. How well did they perform compared to their peers? You should be looking for people who consistently rank in the top 25% of performers in each of their previous roles.

4. Ask them “How did you prepare for this meeting with me today?”. That exposes the sales imposterwho survives entirely on hustle and personality.

5. Assign each short-listed candidate a project (such as a 30, 60, or 90-day plan) that helps determine how job-ready they are, how much effort they put into things, and also gives the candidate a chance to get more invested in our company. Instead of sending them home to do this and present to you later, invite them to work with you for a couple of hours on the project so you can get a real sense of how they think and tackle challenges, how coachable they are, and how much you enjoy spending time with them.

(1) On “invite them to work with you for a couple of hours on the project”, cf. Lou Adler’s treat job candidates as consultants.
(2) See also: How to run a job interview.

2 thoughts on “How to interview sales people

  1. These are all best practices for salespeople to evaluate a boss. Most sales interviews are pressured for good reason, but would you want to work for this guy? Does HE seem knowledgable? Can he HELP YOU? In my experience the best high pressure interviewers make the worst leaders. Character is a two way street my friend.

  2. Pingback: What to look for when hiring sales people | A Founder's Notebook

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