Sales are the life blood of any organization.    No mater how well-designed or competitively-priced your product or service, it must still be represented by someone who can get others to purchase.  Stated simply: “No sales, company fails.” As such, there is perhaps no more crucial hire for your company than the person who will be directly responsible for bringing in its revenue.  The challenge with hiring sales people, however, is that even the most mediocre performers will typically  interview fantastically well.  They are personable, well-spoken, and generally make a great first impression.   Unfortunately for you, the hiring manager, if you go with your gut on sales people, you’ll usually be wrong if you don’t have the right tools to help you understand what’s beneath the facade.   In this blog post we discuss the importance of Behavioral-Based Interviewing.

TalentWoo always recommends that hiring managers use the Behavioral Based Interview method of discovery.  The premise, in summary, is that past behavior dictates future performance.  Your goal as a Sales Manager, Sales Director, or Vice-President of Sales is to get the candidate speaking specifically about behaviors and patterns they have exhibited in the past, to determine how they might work in your organization if hired.  Here, then,  are 7 example interview questions you can ask a potential employee that will cut through the fluff and pinpoint whether the person sitting in front of you is a top performer.

1.  How do you rank among  sales peers in your current company?  Walk me through what you do differently that accounts for this ranking.

(Tip: Anyone who does not know the answer to this question is a definite non-hire.  Top performers ALWAYS know where they are compared to their peers, because they are always at the top, or trying to get there.  You want someone who is self- driven and competitive. Anyone who is not in the top 10% is probably not what you are looking for, either).

2.  Tell me about a business or personal goal that you set for yourself and achieved within the last year.  What was it?  What tasks were involved in accomplishing the goal?  How did you feel when you reached the goal?

(Tip: Is this person truly goal-oriented by nature?  Do they set and achieve personal goals as a way of life?)

3.  Describe your typical sales process, from start to finish, when you are meeting with a prospect.  Give me an example of a time when you used this process and it failed.  What happened, and what did you learn from it?

(Tip: You are looking for someone who is thoughtful, organized and process-focused.  Do they use a consultative sales approach, structured selling approach, or is it just “shoot from the hip”?  Is it a consistent, repeatable process that they can adjust & improve with each sale, or do they merely rely on charm and personality?)

4.  Can you tell me about a time when you were able to get to the bottom of a situation, when the customer or prospect was incapable of communicating what they really meant?  If so, how did you achieve this?

(Tip:  What kind of listening skills does this person have?)

5.  What have you done this last year personally for your own professional development (i.e. specific training  in sales;  books you have read; seminars you have attended, etc)?

(Tip:  You are looking for someone with a thirst for self-improvement.)

6.  Describe a situation with a client or prospect where you made a mistake.  How did you handle the error?

(Tip:  Is this person honest and trustworthy as your ambassador?  Dig for integrity.)

7.  What metrics are used to define your success?  How are you performing against these metrics?

(Tip:  Like question #1, top sales reps are never vague.  They know EXACTLY what the metrics are, how to track them, how they measure up, and are constantly working on how to EXCEED them.)

TalentWoo helps growing companies with recruiting challenges to target, select and hire the right sales people.  Our unique Applicant Relationship Management software (powered by Accolo) uncovers  core competencies in more than 7 key areas.  This allows hiring managers to save time and money by making consistently great hiring decisions.  Don’t entrust your sales recruiting to just anyone; and don’t cut-corners to make cheap hires.  Money spent on making the right sales hire is the best investment a company can make.  To find out more about how TalentWoo’s online recruiting solution can help build your sales team quickly and efficiently, contact us today!