Interview Questions to Help Attract High-Quality Salespeople

August 30, 2022
Interview Questions to Attract High-Quality Sales People

In your role as Sales Manager or Hiring Manager, it is your responsibility to locate new sales representatives who, in addition to having strong sales talents, also possess the potential to bring success to your firm.

If you’re a hiring manager, you’ve probably spent hours sorting through the resumes, cover letters, references, and other materials sent by many potential sales prospects.

But, before anything else, you need to attract high-quality salespeople to your company; you need to do a few key things to do this.

  • First, you must ensure that your job posting accurately reflects the duties and responsibilities of the position. In your posting, try to be as descriptive as possible, and make sure to include information on the prerequisite skills and experience you’re seeking.
  • In order to find suitable sales reps, you must first inform your network of contacts that you are looking for them. Request that they share your job posting with anyone they know who might be qualified and interested.
  • Third, you should use social media sites like LinkedIn to contact prospective candidates. Use LinkedIn’s search features to find individuals with the skills and experience you’re looking for, then send them a message letting them know about your open position.

Once you have narrowed the pool of potential employees down to a select group of exceptional applicants, it is time to get ready for the interview.

When you have so many outstanding candidates, it can be a little daunting to make sure that the interviews go without a hitch, that the candidates are everything you could have ever wanted and more, and that they feel the same way about you and your organization as you do about them.

You need to ensure that each prospect is as promising in person as they appear on paper by having them go through an interview. In order to determine whether a candidate is qualified for the role, you also need to make sure that you’re spending time looking at all of their answers both on the application that they submit and after completing the in person interview.

In the event that your firm makes a mistake during the hiring process, the potential cost to the business could range anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the salesperson’s annual compensation. And this is for a position with no experience required. A salesperson’s departure from the company can build up a bill equal to 1.5 times their annual compensation if the employment was a mid-level sales role.

How exactly do you prevent anything like this from taking place? How can you be confident that the salespeople you hire are the best qualified?

The most important thing to do to prepare for sales interviews with outstanding candidates is to ensure that you have the appropriate questions ready to ask them.

You will be able to effectively recruit these superstar candidates into your firm as employees if you create your interview questions in such a way that you’re able to gain additional insight on the individual that you’re speaking with.

In today’s blog post, the team at The Brooks Group will discuss some of the best interview questions to ask prospective sales employees. We’ll also provide tips on reading their responses and determining if they are a good fit for your organization.

Pre-Screen Sales Candidates Before Interviewing

A sales assessment can be a strong and useful tool before a company begins the interviewing process. If you’ve been a Sales Manager for long enough, you can attest to the fact that the only thing some salespeople know how to sell is their way through an interview.

Managers can discover that the entire hiring process was a charade when candidates who are the incorrect fit make it through a standard interview procedure.

When thinking specifically of candidates for sales positions, companies are seeking individuals who must be driven and possess a solid foundation of abilities to succeed in such a demanding setting.

When they can’t find another form of career, some people mistakenly transition to sales. Unfortunately, this results in the hiring of underqualified salespeople, ultimately costing the business thousands of dollars and irritating sales managers beyond belief.

A well-designed sales aptitude test can be used as a pre-screening tool to assess candidates’ intrinsic skills and assist in weeding out those who are underqualified or less motivated before the in-person interview.

When doing this, you can be certain that the applicants who advance to the in-person interview have the qualities required for success in sales after you receive the results of the sales aptitude exam.

Let’s start with the greatest questions to ask in sales interviews now that you have confidence in your prospect pool.

Learn More About the Hiring Assessment Through The Brooks Group

The Best Sales Interview Questions

How much of your time is spent fostering customer relationships rather than finding new customers?

Sales roles can be divided into two categories: farming and hunting. Before making a hiring decision, it is essential to figure out which of your open positions your candidate would be best suited for.

It is only possible for a salesman to go through turnover if they are allocated to a position for which their personality does not make a good match with the requirements of the role.

Suppose you are attempting to fill a position where the tasks involve acquiring new clients or customers. In that case, you need to find a candidate with a track record of success as a hunter.

Or, suppose you have open sales roles that require the cultivation of leads and customers as well as the maintenance of existing relationships. In that case, you should look for salespeople with experience in farming.

When you ask a perspective hiree this question, make sure that you know which role you’re looking to fill so that you can get insight with their response.

How can you win your prospects’ trust?

Salespeople need to be able to establish trust with their customers in order to gather information about them and their objectives. However, not all salespeople can do this effectively.

If you’re considering hiring a salesperson, the interview process can be very telling on whether or not they would be a good fit for your company. During the interview, pay close attention to how the salesperson interacts with you. Do they make eye contact? Do they listen carefully to your questions? Do they appear receptive to your message?

Your salesperson won’t be able to gather information about a customer, including their wants and objectives, unless they establish a level of trust with that consumer. Because of the trust that has been established between the two parties, the customer can discuss their issues in confidence with your salesman.

When asking this question to a prospective employee, gauge their body language and the connection that they’re able to make throughout the conversation. If the prospect struggles to make a connection, they may not be the best fit for your sales team.

How do you stay up to date with trending sales topics and methods?

Your candidate’s response to this question will reveal whether they have the interest and drive to stay abreast of the latest developments in their skills as well as the industry, even though their prior sales position may have been in an unrelated profession or industry.

As we mentioned earlier, a sales position can be something that so many individuals fall into because they lack direction with their career. By asking where an individual is seeking personal growth, you as the manager can get a better idea of how dedicated this individual may be to their career in sales.

What strategy do you use to research potential customers before a call?

Your salesperson needs to have a fundamental understanding of the prospect. Still, more importantly, they need to attempt to connect with the prospect more personally.

This is the key to building a good relationship with the prospects you are working with. Because of this, the customer will perceive your salesman as more human than the salespeople representing your competitors.

Bringing a transaction to a successful conclusion with the assistance of that deeper relationship.

If your salesperson prepares for a pitch by researching the potential customers, the industry they’re in, ways that the potential customer can benefit from your product or service, and the like, they will have a better chance of connecting with those customers.

At the very least, your salespeople should investigate the prospect’s company website to gain additional information about the prospect’s requirements. They could even find a bio page for a certain candidate if they look hard enough.

Discover How Your Candidates Stay Up To Date on The Sale Industry

If your candidate goes above and above by conducting more research on LinkedIn or by doing a simple search on Google, it is heartening to see that they are endeavoring to get to know their prospects.

This question in particular can provide insight into how an individual works through a lead, which is a fantastic bit of information when hiring for a sales position.

Which questions do you enjoy posing to potential clients?

Many successful salespeople believe starting a discussion with the potential customer is more important than presenting their product or service.

Your salesperson will be able to make a more compelling pitch at the end of the conversation and will have a stronger relationship with the prospect as a result of their ability to build a connection with a prospect right off the bat.

You want the response from your candidate to be crammed full of open-ended questions that provide them the opportunity to learn more about the applicant.

Good questions to look out for are:

  • What prompted you to look for a new product/service?
  • What specific needs are you hoping to address with this purchase?
  • What other options have you considered?
  • What budget do you have in mind?
  • What timeline are you working with?
  • Who else is involved in this decision-making process?

How can you win your prospects’ trust?

Without building a level of trust, your salesperson will not be able to learn about a customer, their needs, and where there is opportunity to serve them. With an established relationship built on trust, the consumer can confide in your salesperson and express their problems. Therefore, this query should be answered in a way that inspires confidence in the applicant.

As a sales manager who has worked in the industry for a while, take into consideration how your applicant responds to this question. You will have a sound idea on whether or not their response is something that will work for that specific position.

What constitutes a fruitful first encounter with a prospect?

A successful first meeting with a prospect is one in which both parties feel that they have accomplished something and are looking forward to the next steps. It should be clear what each party’s objectives were for the meeting, and those objectives should have been met.

There should also be a sense of rapport and trust between the two parties, as this will be essential for moving forward.

Finally, it is important that both parties feel like they have a good understanding of each other’s needs and how they can best be met. If all of these elements are present, then the meeting will likely be successful and further progress can be made.

You want the response to be delivered verbally or in writing to show that the salesman has learned enough about the prospect to know how to proceed with the sale. This can also be a great indication that the prospective employee has a good understanding of what their goal is when speaking with a client.

How should pricing be discussed with a prospect, in your opinion?

It is essential to follow a sales process; the candidate’s response to this question will reveal whether they intend to do so. They should ideally show the price’s worth before presenting it.

This question, in particular, can give you an idea on how comfortable a prospect is with discussing numbers with a potential customer.

How do you acquire leads?

This question can provide insight on the history of a sales professional. A candidate who replies that they have only ever had warm leads will not be a good fit for you if your business requires cold calls or emails. Instead, you want someone who offers precise information on how to generate leads on their own. Utilize this answer to determine if this prospect will be a good fit.

What “above and beyond” actions will you do in this role?

There is no answer that is considered “wrong” to this question, but this is a another opportunity to gain insight on how an individual will perform as an employee in the workspace; the only answer that comes one should be weary of is saying that the candidate will only do what is expressly demanded of them.

A great candidate willing to put in the time and effort required to go above and beyond merely meeting minimum requirements to add value to your company and its customers is great. This type of candidate is exactly what a sales team needs.

How do you handle rejection?

The world of sales is full of unavoidable instances of rejection. In addition, how a salesman reacts to setbacks and defeats is a significant factor in determining their mood and the performance they ultimately exhibit when it comes to making sales.

Your candidate needs to have a very positive and resilient attitude if they are going to be able to avoid taking these kinds of rejections personally and instead use them as motivation to get the next deal closed.

A salesperson who is aware of the fact that each “no” puts them one step closer to a “yes” is the kind of salesperson you should strive to have on your team.

How do you tackle a quick vs. drawn-out sales cycle?

Before anything else, your candidate needs to have an understanding of the significant differences between these two types of sales cycles.

Second, they ought to be aware of the fact that quick closes are required for shorter cycles. In contrast, lengthy cycles call for a great deal more specialist experience.

What areas do you believe our business needs to improve on?

You can tell if your applicant has done enough study on your business by how they respond to this question. Additionally, it reveals whether or not they are creative thinkers and problem-solvers, two skills essential to long-term sales success. This can also provide insight on whether or not this prospective employee can look towards the future for solutions, or if they feel stuck in a situation.

Upgrade the Quality of Sales Professionals On Your Team

What would you do in your first month at the company if hired for this position?

You need a salesperson who can take initiative on their own. You will be able to determine whether or not the individual you are considering is qualified if you ask this question.

Responses that demonstrate a lack of certainty are major warning signs.

Your candidate needs to demonstrate that they can make a plan and position themselves for the first sale, even though they do not need to have a fantastic master plan for their first month in the position.

Have you recently learned something new? What was it, if so?

It’s a terrific characteristic for your salesmen to constantly be looking for ways to improve themselves. While not every lesson may be related directly to sales, this can provide additional insight into the interests of an individual, what they’re passionate about, and which areas of their life they’re looking to improve and grow in.

If the applicant doesn’t respond to this, they will likely not advance and won’t be a great fit for a sales team.

What motivates you as a salesperson?

If the candidate’s main objective is financial gain, such as a commission, this should serve as a red flag.

Salespeople who are successful have a natural desire to be successful and a strong feeling of competition, not only with their peers but also with the clients themselves. An answer that mimics this mentality is one that you can count on thriving on your sales team.

What qualities do you think a successful salesperson possesses?

First, make a list of the characteristics that an ideal salesperson on your sales team should have, and then evaluate each prospect based on how well they match those characteristics.

According to the findings of recent studies, to be successful in sales throughout the course of a longer period, a successful sales professional has drive. Drive is defined as the combination of the personality traits necessary for achievement, competition, and optimism. Alongside drive, sales professionals should also have strong communication skills, be highly organized and self-motivated. Factor in any additional skills and/or characteristics you find valuable for your sales team and make sure that your candidates answer aligns with this list.

What did a typical day look like in your prior sales position?

The best way to respond to this question is to compare it to a typical day at work for a salesperson at your company. Even while there will surely be a need for some adjustment once you begin working for a new organization, you don’t want there to be too many substantial differences.

When should you give up on a prospect?

You want a salesperson who will be persistent, even if you don’t want them to be overly pushy and completely drive off potential customers from completing the buy. Prior to giving up, some sales professionals advise making up to six attempts.

Have you ever rejected a prospect because you felt they weren’t a good fit?

It is never a good idea to hire a salesperson who believes that a product or service will work for every single customer. The ability to discern when a customer’s needs are not going to be met by the products or services provided by your company and to politely decline business from that customer is an essential quality in a salesperson.

Consider this response from the candidate to be a red flag and proceed with caution. “No, I never reject prospects.” At the end of the day, you do want an individual who is good at selling, but you also want someone who can understand when a prospect isn’t a good fit.

How do you feel about having face-to-face meetings with clients?

Even if this particular activity is not absolutely necessary for the operation of your company, you nevertheless want to ensure that your sales staff is comfortable engaging in it.

How do you persevere through a challenging day?

There is no correct answer to this question. Rather, this question allows you to get to know the individual and determine whether they need some time to recover from a difficult decision or whether they can get over it quickly and go on.

Describe a moment when a potential customer made things challenging for you and how you overcame that obstacle.

One of the most important characteristics of a great salesperson is the ability to overcome one’s pride and persist in pursuing a difficult customer. This displays that they are able to put their personal feelings to the side and concentrate on the task at hand.

What strategies do you employ to build rapport with prospective customers?

A sales candidate who only occasionally leaves voicemails and only uses email raises a red flag. Instead, you’re searching for someone who does their homework and invests time in speaking with you on the phone or meeting you in person.

How do you get recommendations after a sale?

Individuals who find a closed deal as an opportunity for additional connections are a fantastic addition to a team. That being said, there are also some downfalls to hiring someone who relies too heavily on recommendations after a closed deal. When asking this question alongside cold-lead questions, you can get a good understanding of how this perspective employee would apply themselves in the workspace.

In a cold call, what do you say?

You are looking for an answer more along the lines of a role-play than a general one such as “I would talk about the company’s products or services.”

Even though it was most likely scripted, it needs to have an unscripted and natural sound.

Would you rather have satisfied customers or meet your quota?

Despite the fact that quotas and objectives are both quite important, a salesperson should never put quotas ahead of providing customers with the assistance they require.

Customers that remain happy with the company over time contribute to stronger customer connections, an improved reputation, and increased income.

Walk me through each stage of your sales process, starting at the beginning.

Even though the role is entry-level, it is crucial that the sales candidate has at least a basic understanding of the sales process. You can also tell how someone organizes a process in their thoughts based on how they respond to this question.

Discover How Candidates For a Job Work Through a Problem

What three things about your prior place of employment could be made better if we had a magic wand?

Despite the fact that there is neither a right nor a wrong answer to this “Magic Wand Question,” the candidate’s response will disclose a great deal about them. Because a person’s history is the best predictor of their future conduct, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the context and mindset from which your applicant originates.

This question will elicit a more honest response from the prospective employee, and it can be highly beneficial in acquiring insight into their past employment as well as what they valued and disliked from that job.

Do they believe there is room for development in the company? Do they harbor any ill will toward the company they worked for? Do they have stringent requirements that your company would never have a chance of satisfying?

Describe an instance when you faced criticism and how you responded.

If a candidate takes criticism personally and responds angrily when they are attacked, the candidate may not be the best fit for your sales team.

Your company needs the assistance of a person whose response reveals that they paid attention to what took place and understood the importance of making improvements. Afterall, every professional position should be based on someone receptive to feedback and welcoming of opportunities to grow.

What is your ultimate career goal?

According to the results of a survey conducted by Glassdoor, a lack of opportunities for advancement is one of the primary reasons a salesman decides to leave an organization.

If the answer that your prospect gives to this question is something that you are unable to provide, you should use this as an early warning sign that they may not  be looking for a long term position with your company.

To whom do you feel most at ease selling?

One that describes your target customer is the reaction you are after here.

Do you think education affects sales?

Any potential candidate who is opposed to the concept of continuous education throughout one’s life should be avoided at all costs.

Because the world of sales is always evolving and introducing new strategies, your salespeople need to be lifelong learners who keep themselves current on the latest strategies.

What is the wisest counsel you’ve ever heard?

Ideally, your candidate will provide a sales-related response to this that they can apply in their day-to-day work.

What do you do for fun?

Of course you want to get a good grasp on an individuals experience with sales, but you also want to get a feel for their personality and how they’ll fit into your sales team.

The activities that a person enjoys doing in their spare time, whether they are done receptively (such as watching television or movies), creatively (such as pursuing hobbies), or actively (such as participating in sports or other outdoor activities), can reveal a great deal about their motivation and the kind of salesperson they will become.

Why did you decide to get into sales as a career?

If the candidate’s response to this question has anything to do with commission or a lack of other employment alternatives, this can be a good sign that this candidate might not be the best fit. This is especially true if you’re looking to build a strong team from the get go.

How do you feel about working in a team setting?

Collaboration may not be a top priority at your company, but it is a must within a sales team. At the end of the day, having a sales representative that is willing to work effectively with others (often known as a “team player”) will be invaluable to your success as a sales team. A fantastic strategy to strengthen your sales team is to exchange knowledge with colleagues and learn from them.

How would a former client describe you?

There are a lot of good answers to this question, but if your candidate lists “helpful” as one of their recognized attributes, take that as a positive sign.

What kind of sales manager do you think would be ideal?

The answer to this question will provide insight into how the candidate sees a connection with you and may flag possible issues if you or your business cannot give them the assistance they require. This is another question that truly has no right or wrong answer.

How would you describe the corporate culture at your previous employer?

You should carefully consider the candidate’s criticisms inside this response. If they grumble about long hours and impossible quotas at your company, they won’t be happy there because your company thrives on challenges and late nights. This will make them unhappy at your company. Of course, this is just an example, but do keep an ear out for any complaints that are similar to that of the job they’re applying for.

What virtues do you believe every salesperson ought to possess?

You ought to give careful consideration to the virtues that the candidate mentions in their response to this question. The answer to this question can be telling of the virtues that they would like to see in team members and virtues that they feel they themselves possess.

What is your superpower?

Everyone is exceptional at something. And how your applicant responds to this will reveal their assets and their level of self-awareness, both of which are essential for self-improvement and determining whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your sales team.

What would you need coaching on, specifically?

This is a wonderful question to ask for a few different reasons, and here they are: It indicates the candidate’s self-knowledge as well as their awareness of the limitations they have. It will demonstrate whether or not what they require can be taught to them. As soon as the applicant begins working for your company, you will have a spot to begin your investigation.

Build a High-Quality Sales Team With a Hiring Assessment

What makes you want to work here?

It’s likely that the candidate is simply hunting for whatever position they can find if they are unable to provide a convincing response to this question. Clearly, you want the exact opposite for your sales team, not the reverse. You want a response that makes it very apparent the candidate is interested in working only for your business. That being said, this is another question where there ins’t a wrong or right answer, so you will have to use your best judgement to determine if their response feels genuine.

Why should we hire you?

A salesperson needs to have confidence, but you don’t want it to go too far and turn into arrogance. The candidate should respond in a way that is confident but not haughty.

What useful product do you think is badly marketed?

The purpose of this question is to get a sense of your candidate’s marketing knowledge as well as their creativity and thought process. It can also give some insight into technicquest that they feel work well for selling a product or service.

Could you offer an example of a moment when you employed imagination to retain clients?

Salespeople must possess creativity, especially when it comes to maintaining customers. The candidate’s response should demonstrate their capacity for problem-solving and, where required, improvisation.

What questions do you have for me?

If your candidate doesn’t ask you any questions, that should be a serious red flag. The prospect has the opportunity to ask open-ended questions now to learn more about you, your sales team, and your business. Their answer may be a good indicator of how they will interact with prospects and whether they can come up with intelligent and well-thought-out inquiries.

What efforts have you put in to succeed at work?

It is extremely beneficial for interviewers to ask this question since it enables them to get a sense of what a potential employee perceives as a success and what they consider to be a sacrifice.

Motivated persons are naturally competitive; thus, it should come easily and naturally to them to make concessions in order to achieve their goals because competition is in their nature.

Even though it might not necessarily be a deal-breaker, it would probably be the exception if the applicant had not been compelled to make many compromises in order to continue having success in their work as a salesperson.

What areas of your sales performance require improvement?

Candidates for employment in any industry should be ready to answer this question, as it comes up rather regularly in the interview process for jobs in such industries.

Pay close attention to the applicants who exhibit the appropriate degrees of humility and self-awareness, as well as those who show that they have given some thought to how they intend to develop moving forward.

What do you think should come next in the development of your sales abilities?

Salespeople who view their profession as a vocation rather than a job are constantly seeking to enhance their abilities.

That you need salespeople who are in it for the long haul and not just to make a fast buck before moving on to their true profession should come as no surprise. Move on if the individual doesn’t seem committed to developing their sales career. This is often a sign that they’re not committed to the career nor the position, but rather are open to any position willing to take them.

What are some of the difficulties you have encountered in your present or past sales positions?

Every work has its hurdles, so pay attention to a frank, upbeat, and professional delivery when the applicant talks about the difficulties they have encountered in the past.

Use this inquiry to see whether your business will likely cause the possible hire to experience similar pain points. If there is a risk that a challenge will come up repeatedly, mention it and offer the candidate an opportunity to react.

What is something that you’ve learned from a lost sale?

Any salesperson who has been working in the field for longer than a few weeks will have missed out on a transaction. The most beneficial thing for a salesperson to do after a defeat is to reflect on the experience and learn from it.

Those in sales that are dedicated to their jobs will be curious enough to try to find the silver lining in any negative experiences they have and find a lesson within it. The optimistic outlook that people who grow from their experiences bring to the table is still another significant component of drive, which is necessary for achieving success in sales. If an individual is unable to answer this question, you can assume they lack experience in the industry and that they are not one to seek out growth in these instances.

Describe a few occasions when you failed to achieve a goal or missed a chance. What did you learn in this time?

This is a question that every single person who works in sales, from entry-level salesmen all the way up to senior vice presidents of sales, should be able to answer competently.

The ability to effectively learn from one’s errors is essential to achieving success as a salesperson and as an employee more generally.

It is unavoidable that errors will be committed, that competitors will always come earlier, and that sales goals will not always be achieved.

Pay attention to the lessons that they learned from these experiences, but more importantly, pay attention to the particular measures that they did and the guiding principles that they formed as a result of those experiences.

Let The Brooks Group Help You Build Your Sales Team

Choose the Brooks Group for Sales Team Recruitment

The Brooks Group provides various sales recruitment programs customized to any business and skill you’re looking to improve within your team. An IMPACT refresher course is available for anyone who might need to refresh the skills they learned during IMPACT training. At the end of the day, our goal is to help your sales team succeed.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about how you can build a successful sales team or you’re curious about the various sales training programs we offer, The Brooks Group can help your sales team grow. Contact us today to get more information for your team.

Written By

The Brooks Group

The Brooks Group teaches straightforward, actionable sales training skills to sales managers and their teams. Our IMPACT Selling® Sales Training Program has been taught to over one million sales professionals nation-wide, and we've been recognized as one of the top sales training companies annually since 2010. We also provide various behavioral and selling assessments to aide sales managers making hiring or management decisions.
The Brooks Group teaches straightforward, actionable sales training skills to sales managers and their teams. Our IMPACT Selling® Sales Training Program has been taught to over one million sales professionals nation-wide, and we've been recognized as one of the top sales training companies annually since 2010. We also provide various behavioral and selling assessments to aide sales managers making hiring or management decisions.

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