Sure, every sales interview needs to consider the length of sale, experience in sales, deal size and average deal closing length. But what questions are going to tell you more about a sales candidate than you ever thought possible?
#1 “Tell me about a time when you lost and how that event has motivated you to this day.”
If their response is they don’t lose, they’re lying. If their response is they can’t remember a time when they lost, they’re also lying. Any motivated salesperson can you the exact moment and time he or she lost at something because it’s that loss they can’t let go of. They use it as their motivation for everything; they have dreams about going back, working their asses off and winning.
#2 “Who’s your favorite sports team? Who’s their rival and what would you say to their rival?”
Most people have at least one sports team they watch and support and even in high school or college, there’s always one rival that you hate. If the candidate tells you that you he or she would bad mouth their rival or say how the team fell short, they’re bound to be a bad sales rep. Negative sales is a dead end and any candidate walking down that path in an interview is the same way.
#3 “How do you handle people telling you that you’re wrong?”
Any good salesperson has an answer to this question and the answer is not, “I’m never wrong.” They are wrong. Salespeople are human. Obviously they have the innate ability to stretch the truth but they have to be able to level with you and prospective clients. A good answer to this question is a long answer, one that doesn’t end in them giving up. Any candidate that is stumped on this question or gives up is probably just as likely to give up a sale.
#4 “What do you know about us?”
A quality salesperson has done their homework profiling the company they’re interviewing with. If they haven’t, they probably applied for the position while they were working. They don’t have a sincere interest in your company and they sure don’t have the heart or desire to be passionate about your product. What’s that tell you about their work ethic?
#5 “What is your least favorite product? …Sell it to me.”
This is a great way to see how quickly your salespeople can generate use cases and selling points on the drop of a dime. It’s a test of how nimble they can be in pitching and reacting to a situation. You’ll find top salespeople giving you amazingly creative, humorous, and successful pitches. You’ll be impressed with how they rise to the occasion. If you aren’t, that says something.
Bonus! “What questions do you have for us?”
Yes, this is a typical way to end an interview but your expectation for sales candidates should be high when answering this question. They should have questions, in fact, they should have more than three. Are they asking about the product or service your company offers? Are they asking about the stability of the company? Are they asking why you’re qualified for your position? The last one is totally outrageous, but if a salesperson is confident enough to ask a question like that, odds are they’re confident enough to cold call anyone.
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