sales interview questions

The 7 Sales Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

Are you looking to hire the right person to join your sales team?

Do you believe you’re all set up with the best sales interview questions out there?

Well, consider this.

The days of seeking out aggressive sales people who need to “always be closing” have passed. The world of the internet has created new challenges for sales teams.

Your website allows customers can find out whatever they need about your company, so having a sales person who does nothing but regurgitate what’s on your site isn’t really of any value.

To get the ideal candidate on your team, you need to know the best sales interview questions.

Times are always changing.

People are busier than ever and don’t have the patience for cold calls or a long string of follow-up emails. If anything, this aggressive behavior becomes a turnoff.

You need salespeople who know how to take the general information that’s on your website and put it into the context of your prospective customer’s needs.

Here are seven sales interview questions that top executives in successful companies use in this day and age to help them find ideal candidates.

1. What are you looking for in this position with us?

It’s tempting to overload the candidate with all of the information about YOUR company. After all, you want to sell yourself because you’re hopeful they’ll be the right fit for you and want to join your team.

But step back a moment.

Their answer to this question can help you determine whether your opportunity is going to be a right fit for them. And if you don’t feel you can meet their expectations, tell them why not.

This not only allows them to recognize where they may need to change their expectations, but it also sets up an environment of trust. And as far as building a career in sales leadership, trust is key.

2. Can you tell me three areas where we’ll be coaching you?

Hopefully, in your company, sales reps are provided coaching through the sales manager. If so, you’ve probably noticed that the high performing sales reps are always taking things up a notch by seeking out that coaching.

This is one of the best sales interview questions because it will give you a sense of their understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. You want a sales rep who has this self-awareness.

Also, it will give your sales manager an idea of what they will be up against once this new candidate begins working there.

3. How familiar are you with our product or service?

This one is pretty basic. You want to know that they’ve done their research.

Again, with the internet, there are so many resources available that can educate a potential sales rep about your company or service. They can listen to old podcasts featuring execs from your company. Or they can do back-channeling.

But if they haven’t even bothered with the simple task of exploring your website to get a complete understanding, they’re probably not going to be your best bet.

4. Would you say you’ve been more successful in servicing clients or in developing a new territory… and why?

You may have a sparkling resume in front of you that says this potential sales rep has made thousands and thousands of dollars for their previous company. But do they have the skills to handle your sales position?

Maybe not.

It’s possible that this person is only responsible for servicing an existing customer, or that someone else generated the initial sale. Or s/he might have made the initial sale, but then handed the rest of the work over to someone else.

What makes this one of the best sales interviews questions is that it requires the candidate to recognize their strengths. This, in turn, allows you to ask follow-up questions about why they feel they shine in one area over the other.

5. What was your first job ever? What did you like about it, how long did you keep it and what did you learn from it?

Yeah, okay. This is technically one question followed by some sub-questions.

Keep in mind that in your search for sales reps, you’re not just trying to put bodies in seats.

If you’re looking for a strong sales rep, you want someone who possesses the traits of a high-performance sales rep – someone who’s intellectually strong, willing to work hard and has strong character. And you can learn a lot about a person’s background and how they make decisions based on the answers to these questions.

And they’ll give you a window as to whether they’re willing to stay for the long run with your company.

6. Are you willing to meet with some other members of our team?

You may end up LOVING a potential sales rep. But you want to be sure that this seemingly ideal candidate is gong to fit into the culture of your company.

Consider having another sales rep, a solutions consultant, another senior level person and someone outside of sales prepare some questions for the candidate. Doing this can be key in catching some red flags you may have missed.

Then if the candidate gets through their best sales interview questions with great success, you can feel a lot more confident in your choice.

7. How many red-breasted woodpeckers live in North Dakota?

You think this a joke, but it’s not.

This question in and of itself does not stand as one of the best sales interview questions. It’s what comes of the question that makes it of value.

The question can be any question you want; you don’t even need to know the correct answer. Finding the correct answer isn’t even the point.

A successful sales rep needs to be a critical thinker and a problem solver. So the point of this question is really to test how well they approach a problem on the spot and then try to solve it.

Obviously, a lot goes into hiring a sales rep.

These seven of the best sales interview questions will help you to more confidently hire for skill, personality, mapping and character. But ultimately, you need to have a clear understanding of the outcome you want.

If you need more help on finding great candidates for your sales team, let the experts at JDP Search get started for you. We’re happy to help.

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