5 Interview Questions to Ask Your Next Sales Candidate

Published on Sep 27, 2017

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.

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