The 10 Most Important Questions You Should Ask Sales Candidates
You’ve been tasked with hiring salespeople, but you don’t know what questions to ask them. We’re guessing that’s how you landed here, and we’re here to help! 😀
We’ve compiled the top 10 questions that will help you bring the best salespeople into your organization. Because after all, asking the right questions is detrimental to determining if an applicant's experience and personality meet the requirements of a sales role.
On top of that, quality of hire is important, but it’s even more important for sales roles. Why? Because the average annual turnover in sales is 25 to 30%. This means that the equivalent of the entire sales organization must be hired and trained every four years or so, and that’s EXPENSIVE!
So, let’s get started with the key questions that will help you separate high-performing salespeople who exceed their quota from underperformers who miss their quotas by more than 25%...
1.) What does your current sales process look like?
Any great sales process demonstrates an understanding of the customer journey and aligns with the sales pipeline. Asking a candidate to walk through their current process helps you see how well they understand this journey, their sales strengths, and how well their sales experience matches your business needs.
2.) How do you handle rejection or a lost sale?
This question is a great way to measure a candidate's willingness to discuss their failures and learn from their mistakes. Consider asking this question to determine a candidate's ability to overcome challenges and make improvements to their sales process when necessary.
3.) How do you build and maintain relationships with clients?
This question can help determine how a candidate works to build and maintain trusting relationships with prospects, an important part of securing consistent sales. You may ask this question to better understand their communication skills and trust-building techniques.
4.) How do you determine if a prospect is a good fit?
Sales is more than cold calls and creative presentations. Experienced salespeople can identify quality leads to focus on quality over quantity. A candidate that knows where to direct their efforts can take the prospect all the way to closing.
5.) Explain a time you were especially creative to close a sale.
Problem-solving is a creative practice and a necessary skill to succeed in sales. Interviewers in especially difficult industries or with unique products and services will appreciate seeing how a potential employee navigates challenges and applies their experiences in a creative way to address prospect questions, concerns, and needs.
6.) Which sales metrics do you believe are most valuable?
Data tracking and analysis are key to effective sales strategies that can evolve and scale with your business needs. Candidates should be able to name the metrics that are most valuable to them and how they apply them to their role.
7.) Tell me about your most successful sale.
There’s no better feeling than finally closing that big sale you’ve been working on for months. It’s only fair that you allow candidates to brag about their greatest wins as well as the losses they’ve grown from. Plus, you get to see their enthusiasm and potential in sales.
8.) What do you like least about sales?
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a candidate who loves everything about their job, from cold calling to closing. It’s OK to have preferences, but interviewees should remain positive and explain how they stay motivated even if they don’t love the task.
9.) What did the last product that you sold do for your customers?
Good salespeople won’t just talk about product features…they’ll understand how their products served a particular need and solved pain points for different market segments. The candidate may turn this into a mini sales pitch to show off their skills or simply give you an overview. Either way, this shows how well they understood their former company’s role in their customers’ lives.
10.) Tell me about a time when you collaborated with people outside the sales team.
The overlap and collaboration between sales, marketing, customer success, and other business departments is stronger than ever. Can candidates communicate effectively with others outside their team? Even more, have they leveraged those relationships to take their selling to the next level?
BONUS: What questions do you have for me?
The best salespeople — and strong candidates in general — have questions for the interviewer(s). After all, this is the company where they’ll invest their time and energy, possibly for years to come. Remember to allot time to open the floor for questions, and keep in mind that it’s definitely a red flag if they don’t have any questions.
Looking for more help on how to hire GREAT salespeople? From the number of interview stages you should have to the top 10 skills to assess sales candidates on, check out our “Sales Leaders Guide to Hiring Great Salespeople" here.