Interviewing and hiring Sales people is a difficult role. How do you separate the people who tell you they have sold many successful deals from the people who actually do?
I have taken a few seminars on Interviewing and what strikes me as amazing is the infinite amount of articles on interviewees tips however there is very little information on how Managers can overcome the fictional lives of sales people to get into the facts.
The answer: Deep continuous probing into the details......
What do I mean? The trick is to isolate a few key sales successes and dig!
What were the 3 most successful sales opportunities that they closed?
Let them pick what in their mind was a reflection of their skills and by asking for 3 stories, allows us as Mangers to pick the one we want to focus on or allows us to change direction and dig into another example.
How did they enter the opportunity?
We want to understand how the lead came to them? Did they cold call? Internet lead? Referral? Existing Customer? and then we can ascertain if they are truly a hunter or a farmer.Will their skills match what you are looking for?
Who participated in the Sales Cycle?
We want to know if they are part of a team selling process, if they controlled the process or were along for the ride, and if they negotiated the end deal. Can they manage the sales cycle through every step or did someone else assist?
What types of activities in the sales process are the tipping point for a lead to become a sale?
The reality of sales is that there is no substitute for activity. Is it demo's? Meetings? Executive Sponsorship? what is activity that moves the probability up to a close? By understanding what this is and how often it has to happen then we can forward or reverse engineer how much activity they are actually doing.
What was their favourite part about working for their last employer? What would they change at their last employer?
Used to determine cultural fit and attitude.
Do they keep in touch with any of their old Managers?
This is to understand if they left on good terms, if they had issues with managers and their ability to respond to guidance. Really, it is a CLM (Career Limiting Move) to not keep in touch with your old employers.
Lastly, watch for the obvious closing questions but more importantly, you as the buyer (or Hiring Authority) - did they qualify your buying criteria? How do they know what you are looking for? Here say? Speculation? If they do not ask you what your buying criteria is, will they ask a prospect or leave it to chance.
To summarize, it is important to continue the questioning to uncover the truth.
Wishing you good luck and successful hiring!