Interviewing is about as much fun as putting your mouth over the exhaust of a bus! You can count on candidates being smiley and at the top of their game. The resume has been prepared by a pro, the sales rep has all their questions prioritized, and the suit is new or at least newly dry cleaned.
This is a hairy time for a sales manager. You want to hire the right person because you’e coming off two duds that couldn’t sell a Speedo to Michael Phelps. Your boss intimates that your interviewing skills stink. Other people in the company avoid your eyes in the lunch room because everyone is thinking “three and out”. You being the one who might be out if the next rep doesn’t cut it.
When I was interviewing I loved to hear the following from the salesperson:
- If the territory I’m taking over had all the business how much revenue would that be?
- In your opinion what would I make if I had 80% of the business in this territory?
- In our phone interview you mentioned that travel would be 40%. What is it really?
- What are the top three objectives I need to achieve to make this territory the top one in the company?
- What do the best salespeople do now in order to be successful?
- How much does the top rep make in this company?
- Who is the best competitor the company has and why?
- What are your expectations of me?
- Is there any cap to what I can make?
- What are the top 3 reasons why I should work for this company?
But, the tale of the tape goes beyond these questions. All of these questions can be answered succinctly. The key is what are the questions that your true sales pro will come back with. Let’s take question number six. As the manager you could say $175K. A rep worth hiring will ask:
- How does the rep do that?
- How many times have they hit that number?
- If they don’t hit that number routinely why don’t they?
- What other dynamics (people, departments) contribute to the rep making that money?
If each one of the above questions had that many candidate return questions the interview would involve a dialogue that would last hours but isn’t that what the sales professional will demand? Too many interviews involve routine questions and pat answers. They don’t tell you anything. Candidates know what managers want to hear and if the answers to questions are posed the correct way sales managers will think that they have found the diamond in the rough. Don’t always believe it.
Stage the interview so that the candidate has to ask these questions. A question like “how much do you want to make with this company” may lead to a discussion of the number 9 question above. Interviewing is an art that takes time and energy. Plan out ahead of time what you want to hear from a candidate and don’t stop the interview until you are satisfied that you have a pro.
The Final Thought: Never wear a backward baseball cap to an interview unless applying for the job of umpire” Dan Zevin