The Ultimate Guide to Interviewing and Hiring Rockstar Salespeople

Published on Jul 31, 2020

What makes someone a winner in the sales world?

More importantly, how do you pick them out of the crowd, finding the small handful of champions out of hundreds of applicants?

In this guide, we’ll explain what goes into interviewing and hiring rockstar salespeople, while looking at science-backed data. 

Look for Candidates With These 5 Traits

Mark Roberge, former chief revenue officer of HubSpot, wrote a book called The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to Go from $0 to $100 Million. In it, he talks about how every company will have its own unique sales hiring formula, where the ideal salesperson will possess a distinct set of characteristics. 

That said, Roberge also mentions that there are some specific traits based on quantitative data that rockstar salespeople share across the board and that should always be on your radar when hiring. 

Here’s what those traits are, according to Roberge. 

So, being coachable, curious, and intelligent, while demonstrating a strong work ethic and having a proven record of success should be at the forefront of your mind when reaching out to candidates and conducting interviews. And you’ll want to create interview questions that help you gauge these specific areas. 

For full details, watch this Google talk from Mark Roberge. 

Seek Out Reps Who Can Be Trusted Advisors

One of the interesting points Roberge makes is that some of the characteristics that have historically been valued in salespeople, like being able to convince leads and possessing strong closing skills, were negatively correlated in his model of success. 

In other words, being overly aggressive and “salesy” can now end up doing more harm than good, and what most leads are really looking for is someone who can assume the role of a trusted advisor.

And there’s plenty of other research that backs this up. According to Salesforce, “79% of business buyers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor — not just a sales rep — who adds value to their business.”

There’s just one problem. Only 3% of buyers trust reps!

While it may be many hiring manager’s first impulse to seek out slick, high powered reps that are “selling machines,” this data shows that this isn’t usually the best approach. Instead, you should look for candidates that exude trustworthiness and professionalism. Individuals that you could see being a consultant to your leads and who will make them feel comfortable throughout the buying journey — that’s who you want to look for. 

Assess Verbal Communication Skills Over the Phone

These days communication can happen over a variety of different channels, including email, live chat, social media, and even texting — none of which require actually speaking to a customer. That said, research has found that 92% of customer interactions still happen over the phone, with many deals being closed this way. 

That’s why you need to pay close attention to a candidate’s verbal communication skills and look for someone who is clear, articulate, and confident. One of the best ways to assess this is by simply having a brief phone interview during your preliminary round of hiring. 

Within the first few minutes, you should have a pretty good idea of what their verbal communication skills are like, and you can filter out anyone who struggles in this department. 

Can They Give an Epic Presentation?

69% of consumers believe a product demo best assists them when making a purchase decision.” This is what ultimately connects the dots and lets them see how your product works, what its features are, and how it will make their life easier. 

So, being able to give a killer presentation and show off your product demo is absolutely essential. While this is something that can be learned to some degree, some people are naturally better at giving presentations than others. 

One of the simplest ways to gauge their skills in this area is to have them give you a mock demo. Here are some specific things to look for:

  • The ability to instantly build rapport
  • Deep knowledge of your industry and product
  • Taking a personalized approach
  • Making smooth segues
  • Asking relevant questions at opportune times
  • Being able to seamlessly handle objections and concerns
  • And most important great listening skills

Use an Interview Questionnaire and Scorecard

A common mistake many hiring managers make when interviewing and hiring is relying on “a gut feeling.” Don’t get me wrong, sometimes going on instinct works out fine. But other times, it can be a disaster and lead to excessive turnover, which negatively impacts productivity and profitability. 

Fortunately, we’re living in an era where data is more plentiful than ever, and taking a data-driven, scientific approach has never been easier. By using in-depth analysis, the right processes, and powerful tools, top sales leaders have been able to boost sales force productivity by 200% and close 3x more leads. 

An easy way to generate quantitative data when interviewing and hiring is to use a sales interview questionnaire and scorecard. By downloading a free template, you can streamline your interviewing process and ensure consistency across your pool of applicants. In turn, you’re able to evaluate candidates more effectively and identify those that align perfectly with your ideal candidate profile and hiring criteria, moving them swiftly to the next round of hiring. 

This keeps everyone on the same page and can be a massive time saver. Here’s a peak at what the HireDNA sales interview questionnaire and scorecard looks like. 

Finding Unicorns in a Sea of Donkeys

Interviewing and hiring aren’t always easy. With the average job attracting around 250 resumes, the sheer volume of applicants alone can be overwhelming. 

But developing a formula and focusing on critical areas, such as essential traits and abilities, should help you navigate the process with relative ease. Combine that with tools like a sales interview questionnaire and scorecard, and you can find rockstar salespeople who truly stand out, while developing a repeatable system. 

See how you can use the HireDNA sales recruiting platform to hire better sales talent, faster, using data and science to reduce hiring mistakes.

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