For small business owners, a good sales team is essential to continued sales and revenue growth. Unfortunately, sales positions are the most difficult to recruit, hire and retain. Relying on industry experience as the key hiring factor is one of the most common errors in filling sales positions. If the candidate left your competitor, how do you know he'll succeed at your company?
Many hiring mistakes could be avoided by observing the candidate's selling skills during the job interview. Since an interview is basically a sales presentation, it's easy to test the candidate's selling skills if you know what to look for.
Watch for these three essential sales skills and you'll find the right sales professional for your company.
- Prospect qualifying
During the interview a good sales candidate will ask you qualifying questions, like:
What are the greatest challenges your salespeople face? What do you see as the most important qualities in sales staff?
If he doesn't ask these types of questions, he is probably the type of salesperson who wastes a lot of time with unqualified buyers.
- Pre-sales preparation
Just as a good salesperson knows his prospect's business before making a sales call, an excellent candidate will come to the interview prepared by knowing about your business. If he doesn't, then that's a big red flag against his selling skills. You'll know if he did his homework by the quality of questions he asks you about your business. He should be prepared with at least one question that is specific to your business.
A good question would sound like:
I read from your website that you service most of the tri-county hospitals. Do your future plans include extending your market statewide?
A canned question would sound like:
How do you see your company growing in the next five years?
If he can't ask questions that impress you with his intelligence and curiosity, he won't impress your prospective clients either.
- Closing the sale
A great sales candidate will ask closing questions to move you toward a hiring decision. In the interview listen for closing questions like:
When would you like me to come back for the next interview?
When do you expect to make a hiring decision?
What concerns do you have that would prevent you from extending me the job offer?
The hallmark of a great salesperson is his ability to close the sale. If the candidate doesn't try to close you on hiring him, he'll lose a lot of your business as well.
No matter the current size of your company, the sales function has the biggest impact on your revenue growth. Your company's revenue will increase steadily over time with a reliable sales team. You owe it to your company's future to choose your sales team with great care. In your next sales interview, ask the right questions and watch for the right skills and you'll be on your way to building a sales force that outsells your competition.