Looking for interviewing tips for sales recruiters? Here are some ideas I shared in my interview with business.com. Thought I would share some of the highlights as I am asked these questions often.
Also included are excellent sales interview questions you can ask to help you find your next quota buster faster.
Interviewing Tips for Sales Recruiters to Establish Rapport with Candidates
Business.com: It’s easy to find tips for how job candidates should approach an interview, but what are some tips for interviewers as far as making applicants comfortable, establishing rapport, and getting the information they need to make good hiring choices.
Susan: When interviewing candidates for a sales position, it is important to be prepared. Let’s face it. Every candidate is different. So you just can’t let the direction of the meeting go wherever the conversation takes you. If you do, it will be like comparing apples to oranges when trying to decide whom to hire. Besides, having a chat about the local sports team will not guarantee you make the right hire.
When you first start the interview, let the candidate know that the purpose of the interview is to get to know each other better to see whether we would be a good fit them and your organization. In other words, it's important the candidate know that there are no wrong answers so they can relax.
What Questions Should the Sales Recruiter Ask?
For the interviews themselves, you have to plan ahead so that you can order to properly compare and evaluate the candidates, you need to ask the same questions of each and every one, and those questions must be scripted a head of time. I go into great detail on how to do this in my book, Action Plan for Sales Management Success. I also include the actual questions I ask in every sales interview I conduct.
You can download our free white paper, 'How To Recruit The Best Sales Professionals” which includes '11 Telephone Interview Questions to Find Top Performers' from the B2B Sales Connections Free Download Centre.
How to Recruit the Best Sales Professionals (Includes 11 Telephone Interview Questions to Find Top Performers)
Interviewing Tip for Sales Recruiters – Always Ask This One Question
Any potential sales representative can say they are a 'quota buster' or a 'top performer' in an interview. In reality however, descriptive phrases such as these don't mean much to you as a sales recruiter unless there is some quantitative proof behind it.
An interviewing tip for sales recruiters is to ask a question that can help you determine if the candidate actually has a successful sales track record. A question that does this extrememly well is, 'What are the measurements of successful performance in your current position? How well did you meet them?' Ask this same question for all previous sales positions listed on the resume.
Although not fool proof, past sales performance can be an indication of future sales performance. Before you make an offer to someone who says they are a 'sales superstar', make sure you ask for proof!
A complete first interview script is included in our 'Recruiting, Hiring & Human Resources Tool Kit'. This comprehensive Word document includes templates and examples of various tools every sales manager needs. In addition to the interview questions, a job description form is included, as well as a sample recruiting ad, acknowledgement forms, reference checks, an offer of employement, & disciplinary & termination letters. Click here to download this valuable sales management tool.
Want To Hire Top Salespeople – Look For Push & Pull When Conducting Interviews
One of the best interviewing tips for sales recruiters is to investigate the transitions between the candidates past jobs. You are looking for Push versus Pull. What does that actually mean, push vs pull? You need to uncover whether the person was pulled into their previous jobs or pushed out of those jobs forcing them to look for a new one.
What is “Push”?
What is 'Push'? When an employee has been pushed from previous jobs it is usually a pretty good indicator of their behaviors and performance. When you are interviewing you need to form questions that get to the root of why they left each of their previous positions. You are looking for hints that tell you why they were pushed out.
Examples of Push:
- My boss and I just never got along so I decided to make a change
- It was not the company for me – we had a difference of opinion
- I didn't like – I wasn't the – They never – They wouldn't – I couldn't –
To discover if someone was pushed out of their positions you need to be watching for people who have had conflict of one type or another with their former employers or coworkers. If a person has only been pushed out of a few jobs in a long career then it may not be a symptom of a problem, however if the candidate has had many 'push' reasons for leaving then you may have person who does not work well with others.
What is “Pull”?
People who were pulled into jobs are the ones you are looking to find. These are the employees, whether salespeople or any other position, who are in demand and are seen by their managers, peers and competitors as a valuable addition to a company.
Examples of Pull:
- My boss moved to ABC company and asked me to come work for him
- Mr. Jones was one of my customers and he invited me to interview….
- ABC company was one of my clients and they recruited me……….
- My professor introduced me to…
These are all examples of people who were pulled into a new company or new position within a company or pulled along by a boss or mentor who knew their value to the company. If you start looking at current employees or employees you had in the past you will quickly be able to identify those who were 'Pulled In' and those who were 'Pushed Out'.
The Push versus Pull Interview Question
A quick interviewing tip for sales recruiters to determine push or pull is to simply ask; 'In 2010 you left ABC company and moved to Widgets Inc. Can you tell me what prompted you to leave ABC Company and take this new position?'
Ask this question for each job change. You will very quickly see a pattern begin to develop that may be a push or pull scenario. Regardless of their answer, ask them to expand on why they felt the job change was needed and justified.
Look for candidates that have a history of being pulled into jobs and you will find yourself working with people who have motivation, a winning attitude and drive.
More Interviewing Tips for Sales Recruiters
For more excellent questions you can ask when interviewing sales people, check out these other posts:
- 10 Sales Interview Questions to Hire the Perfect Sales Team
- The 10 Sales Interview Questions Every Manager Should Ask
- What's Troubling You? Reveal Sales Candidates' Opportunities for Improvement With These 8 Interview Questions
As I mentioned previously, the key is preparation. Take the time to check out all these sources of questions you can ask a potential sales candidate. Then pick the best ones that work for you and your industry.
What Research & Technical Skills do Sales People Need to Succeed?
Business.com: Everyone knows that with sales, communication skills are paramount. But what should you look for in terms of research and analytical skills, as well as the technical skills necessary to operate the software and hardware for the job?
Susan: When recruiting salespeople, the question is not can they sell, but rather can they sell what you want sold. If your product dictates the salesperson to have a certain level of analytical or technical skills to be successful, you then should make that a minimum requirement for all candidates. You either have to ensure they have the skills necessary before you hire them, or you need to add training for those skills in your onboarding process. The best way to assess this is to ask them in the interview.
Detailed instructions on how to define and find your ideal sales candidate, are also included in my book, Action Plan For Sales Management Success.
Remember as the old saying goes, “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you are working with turkeys!” More motivational quotes here.
The Bottom Line on Interviewing Sales Candidates
Most people who are involved in the hiring process for sales professionals understand that a candidate's behaviors are usually more critical to their performance than their experience. You can determine this in the interview, as well as when you check their references properly.
You can teach people the skills they need to accomplish the job but if they don't have the behaviors you are looking for then they may never become a top performer. Drive, empathy, motivation and attitude are not skills you can teach someone. All you can do is help people who already display these behaviors become the best in their field.
Behavior-based interviewing stems from the belief that past performance is the best predictor of future behavior. In fact, behavioral interviewing is considered to be 55 % predictive of future performance, while traditional interviewing has a success rate of less than 10%.
The bottom line is if you ask the right questions, you will make better hires.
Remember as Jim Collins once said, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.'
Co-writen by Susan A. Enns and Robert J. Weese
B2B Sales Coaches and Authors, B2B Sales Connections
Schedule a free sales coaching strategy session with Susan or Robert here.