5 Interview Questions to Ask Your Next Sales Candidate

You hear it over and over. To build a strong sales force, you need to find and hire the right people. You’ll want to ensure your candidates are competent and capable of fulfilling their role in your sales organization. And you’ll want to do it using interviewing best practices…especially considering this cold truth: 

“Most companies spend more on hiring in sales than they do in any other part of the organization. With an average annual turnover rate of 25 to 30%, and direct replacement costs ranging from $75,000 to $300,000, there’s a big opportunity for improvement.”  – Frank V. Cespedes and Daniel Weinfurter, Harvard Business Review

A sales rep’s required job skills can vary greatly depending on the type of product or service being sold, the organization’s target customers and the level of technical knowledge needed. Knowledge-based interview questions are designed to measure your sales candidate’s knowledge against the skill set required for your sales position.

Below are five great knowledge-based questions for assessing a sales candidate during the interview process. They do not represent the end-all of interview questions by any means, but they should at least get you thinking about how you will interview your next sales candidate 

  • How would you sell a product (ex: cell phone, pen, paper) to me?

This question helps interviewers identify whether a candidate is a seasoned or less experienced sales rep. A seasoned sales person will generally respond by asking the interviewer open-ended questions to identify specific attributes of the product that would entice the customer. For example, “What is important to you when selecting a cell phone?” A sales pitch would be presented based on how the product would satisfy the customer’s needs. A novice sales rep’s answer would let the hiring manager know that candidate might require more training during the onboarding process.

  • Describe your typical sales process.

The candidate should understand the overall sales process. A typical sales process would include acquiring product knowledge, identifying prospective customers, assessing customer needs, presenting product value, closing the sale and following up. Interviewers should pay attention to the candidate’s insight into their own ability to build new customer relationships and to close deals.

  • How do you stay current on your target market?

It is essential for sales reps to stay current on market trends and the competition in today’s economic environment. A quality sales candidate should know whether their target market is growing or evolving. They educate themselves on buyers’ needs. They read regularly to keep themselves in-the-know. They participate in discussion groups. They attend training sessions. And they research the competition and customer demographics independently. 

  • What were your previous sales goals? Did you meet them?

A well-prepared candidate will be able to list specific sales goals accomplished along with quantifying metrics. They should be able to explain how they met or exceeded any sales goals. Did they develop a new sales strategy or partner with others in their sales organization? If they missed a sales goal, did they blame others? Or did they accept the setback as a challenge to be innovative and improve?

  • What perception do you have of our organization?

A top-notch sales candidate will have completed research on the industry and your organization prior to the interview. They should be able to discuss your organization’s products or services offered, the types of customers in your target market and your primary competitors. Ideally, they will have an approximate idea of annual revenues and how their role ties into the organization’s goals.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends for 2016 report, finding suitable candidates in high-demand talent pools is the largest obstacle (46%) in attracting and hiring top talent.

Using knowledge-based interview questions in conjunction with a Sales Candidate Assessment can help ensure your organization is making the right hiring decisions for your sales force. Interested in an evaluation of your organization’s interviewing and recruiting process? Revecent can complete an analysis of your sales force hiring strategy to identify areas of strength and areas of opportunities. Request a consult now and start seeing powerful results.

Revecent is a national sales recruiting and sales enablement consulting firm. We help technology and professional service companies recruit and optimize sales talent to accelerate growth.  Contact us today to see how we can help your organization’s sales team exceed expectations.

7 How’s and Why’s of Sales Force Motivation and Accountability

Vince Lombardi said, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined efforts of each individual.” 

The combined efforts of an influential sales manager and a driven sales force can create an elite sales force. How do you galvanize your sales team? While money makes up part of your sales force compensation plan, as we discussed in our last blog Keeping Your Sales Team Motivated: Commission, Bonuses and other Incentives, the other influencers are motivation and accountability. 

Before we discuss the ways in which you as a manager can approach instilling motivation and accountability, it’s important to remember that top sales talent should be self-motivated and should not need much of a nudge to perform at high levels. Motivation comes from within. The right people demonstrate this over and over. That said, using these motivational strategies can help heighten motivation and develop a high-performance culture.

1.     Set Expectations

How: Before even offering a candidate the sales position, make sure they fully understand the role. Explain how their sales performance impacts their compensation plan. Ensure they know what their expected day-to-day sales activities will be and what sales targets they are expected to meet.

Why: This lays the foundation of motivation by setting expectations and building trust. It is difficult to inspire others if there is not a mutual trust.

2.     Development Plan

How: Develop a Performance Development Plan (PDP) for each sales rep on your sales team. The PDP should not only encompass targets and goals for their individual sales position, but also personal and professional goals that they want to achieve. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals. Revisit goals on an ongoing basis to hold sales reps accountable for either meeting or missing their performance goals.

Why: We all need goals to help us get to the next level. Your sales reps are no different. The PDP can help to establish goals and objectives to be matched against measurable results.

3.     Sales Enablement

How: You’ve established your sales rep’s PDP. Streamlining and removing unnecessary tasks allows them to focus on targeting optimal customers and close high-value sales. We call this sales enablement, and it’s crucial. 

Why: Sales enablement ensures your sales team is empowered with the resources and tools they need to succeed.

4.     Performance Evaluation

How: A sales performance evaluation can help to identify a sales rep’s strengths and weakness to determine what skills to focus on to maximize sales revenue. Encourage self-evaluation and manager feedback from your sales rep.

Why: Knowing your team, their strengths and weaknesses allows you to customize and prioritize training and coaching to help them perform better.

5.     Friendly Competition

How: Using gamification takes everyday sales activities and turns them into a contest for sales reps. Sales managers can establish scoring metrics for various sales activities (lead conversion, close-rates, speed to lead etc.). Sales reps can view or access a leaderboard to compare their standing to their peers.

Why: Sales reps are generally competitive by nature. Utilizing gamification and contest will igniting some friendly competition to bring out the best in your team. Try it, and watch the fun (and productivity) begin.  

6.     Recognize Performance

How: As mentioned in our previous blog, there are numerous ways to reward salespeople for their performance. Sure, money is a great motivator, but not the only one. Sometimes a simple recognition whether it’s a “shout-out” in an all-hands sales meeting or a certificate that can be displayed on their desk is reward enough.

Why: According to a recent industry survey, 66 percent of employees say they would likely leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated. This is up significantly from 51 percent of employees who felt this way in 2012. Everyone appreciates praise and recognition for a job well done.

7.     Lead by Example

How: One of the most important ways to motivate your sales team is to exemplify the attributes you desire most in them. If you appreciate honesty, be honest. If you appreciate productivity, be productive. 

Why: Your sales reps will notice your attitude and work ethics. Inspire them with your example and expect them to follow suit.

Motivating your sales organization to meet sales goals and holding them accountable for areas of improvement are necessary to ensure organizational success. Revecent can complete a skills and competencies analysis of your sales force to identify areas of strength and weaknesses. Request a consult now.

Revecent is a national sales recruiting and sales enablement consulting firm. We help technology and professional service companies recruit and optimize sales talent to accelerate growth.  Contact us today to see how we can help your organization’s sales team exceed expectations.

Keeping Your Sales Team Motivated: Commission, Bonuses and Incentives

Then you’ll want to ensure your sales organization has a well-designed incentive and bonus program. 

Regardless of whether your sales team is large or small, local or global, sales reps that are incentivized will work harder to achieve the goals set by your organization.

“When I look back on the various strategies I used to grow

our sales force from zero to several hundred people, I realize

that one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned involves the power

of a compensation plan to motivate salespeople not only to sell

more but to act in ways that support a start-up’s evolving business

model and overall strategy. Whether you’re a CEO or a VP of

sales, the sales compensation plan is probably the most powerful

tool you have.”  – HubSpot Chief Revenue Officer, 

Mark Roberge, in The Sales Acceleration Formula

The key to finding the right blend of commission, bonuses and incentives for your organization’s sales compensation plan is understanding the different options available and what motivates your reps the most.

Below are some of the most common sales compensation plans with our thoughts on why some aspects work (the good) and why some aspects fail (the bad).

Straight Salary

The good:     Straight salary is the annual base salary sales rep can depend on. It is also easier                              to budget, since it’s consistent.

The bad:           The sales rep’s salary is not impacted by their sales performance. That means                                 sales reps are not necessarily incentivized to sell or work harder and may                                       become complacent in their sales role. 

Straight Commission

The good:         With this option, there is no base salary for sales reps. Individual sales reps earn a                            percentage of each sale they close. This option may attract top-performing                                    sales reps who are confident in their ability to sell and make a good income. 

The bad:           Because reps are depending entirely on their ability to sell, this structure can lead                           to high turnover rates and sales rep burnout from stress.

Salary Plus Bonus

The good:         Your sales reps receive a base salary along with an added bonus for achieving or                            exceeding predetermined sales goals. Bonuses are provided to sales reps at                                    specific intervals.

The bad:           Sales reps sometimes become disheartened if it takes too long to reach a sales                             goal. If not handled correctly, this can lead to high turnover.

Salary Plus Commission

The good:         Salary plus commission sales compensation plans are the most popular option                             in sales organizations. Sales reps receive a lower annual base salary along with                               commission to make up their total compensation. Their commission is earned                               based on the number of sales the individual sales rep closes, resulting i  n                                       increased productivity and motivation to achieve sales goals.

The bad:           This compensation plan can make it more difficult to budget, since sales vary. In                           addition, lower base salary can be viewed as a negative comment on reps’                                     worth, especially if the rep is having difficulty making sales. 

Variable Commission

The good:         In this option, sometimes sales reps don’t receive a base salary, sometimes not,                             depending on the organization. The sales reps’ rate of commission, however,                                 can go up and down depending on factors like product sold, contract terms,                                 new business vs. existing, etc.

The bad:           This compensation plan can make it difficult for both reps and the organization                             to budget.

Incentive Variety Makes the Sales World Go Round

On average, there is a 30% annual sales force turnover. So, while it’s important to note that total compensation is a significant factor in recruiting and retaining sales reps, incentive programs that award sales reps for their achievements inspire loyalty and job satisfaction. Some effective incentive programs are as follows (and mixing and matching is often useful):

  • Gifts – Gift value can vary based on the size of your sales organization. Gifts can range from retail gift cards to “most-wanted” electronics.
  • Awards – Recognition of sales performance achievements can be given during organizational staff meetings. Display sales staff awards in a common area. Designate a highly-desirable parking spot for the top performing salesperson each month.
  • Experiences – Event tickets, spa getaways or all-inclusive vacations not only motivate sales reps, they also offer time away from the office to recharge.
  • Education – Offering onsite industry-related classes or tuition reimbursement for top sales reps wanting to grow in their career is great at incentivizing. The best thing about this is the education the rep receives benefits your organization, too.

Designing the right sales compensation and incentive plan will infuse your sales organization with the confidence and motivation it needs to exceed sales goals. Curious as to whether your sales compensation and incentive plan needs adjusting?

Revecent can complete an analysis of your current sale compensation and incentive plan to identify areas of opportunity for accelerated sales growth and sales force empowerment. Request a consult now.

Revecent is a national sales recruiting and sales enablement consulting firm. We help  technology and professional service companies recruit and optimize sales talent to accelerate growth.  Contact us today to see how we can help your organization’s sales team exceed expectations.