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Four Great Interview Questions to Hire Great Sales Staff

For small business owners, good sales staff is absolutely critical; they can make or break your business. Unfortunately, salespeople are also the most difficult employees to retain, precisely because of their business value. When hiring a new salesperson, many employers fall into the trap of using industry experience alone as the key hiring factor. But if the candidate left your competitor, what makes you so sure he’ll like it any better at your company?

Many hiring mistakes could be avoided at the interview stage. By asking the right interview questions and by observing the candidate’s selling skills during the interview, you can hire the right salesperson the first time.

The following three interview questions can help you avoid sales staff turnover.

  1. Question One: Why did you choose sales as a profession?The answer to this question will help you weed out those who truly love selling from those who just happened to fall into sales as a profession.

    Beware of answers like:

      • Oh, I just kind of ended up in sales after college.
      • Well, when I didn’t get accepted into med school, I figured sales would be a good paying career

    Look for positive responses, as in:

    • I am money-motivated and enjoy the opportunity to earn sales commissions.
    • I have always loved the challenge of influencing the decisions of others.
  2. Question Two: If you were not in sales, what would your profession be?This question will lead your candidate to reveal his true career goals. It is a much better question than the typical: Where do you see yourself in five years? After all, most candidates already have a canned answer to the five-year question, but it’s doubtful they have been asked about their true ambitions. Their candid response will reveal much about their long-term fit with your business plans.

    There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but as you listen decide if his career desires match up with your business objectives. An employee who harbors discontent in the back of his mind will never perform to his full potential.

  3. Question Three: What part of the sales process do you like best?Your candidate’s answer to this will demonstrate two things to you: his knowledge of the selling process and whether his selling style fits your strategic objectives.

    If your company’s revenue is based on a long sales cycle, you will need a salesperson with patience and great prospect follow up. If your business model is based on high sales volume, you’ll want someone driven to “close the deal.” If your sales strategy is based on building a new clientele from scratch, you’ll need a sales person who excels in prospecting for new business.

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 you’ll be on your way to building a sales force that outsells your competition.

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