Finding quality salespeople for your organization requires that you use the right interview questions to properly screen applicants. In order to build a strong sales team, employers need to be able to separate the candidates who will deliver on the job from those who won’t.
Although the unique responsibilities, challenges, and perks of a given sales role will depend largely on the industry and the organization, the the following questions should help employers across a broad spectrum identify superstar sales candidates:
Professional selling is competitive. Sales representatives compete with one another to identify opportunities, win new business, and gain customer loyalty. This is why employers should ask questions about candidates’ motivations when screening sales applicants.
For example, employers may want to ask sales candidates to describe times they’ve used creativity and quick thinking to prospect sales leads. Such behavioral questions push candidates to give concrete examples of how far they have gone to win deals.
Everyone in sales understands that some months are better than others. Nothing is wrong with a temporary slump, and employers should look for candidates who have learned from their lows and avoid candidates who claim they’ve never experienced a downturn. It’s important to ask candidates about how they’ve dealt with rough periods, and how they picked themselves up and kept moving forward.
Communication and Social Skills Questions
In order to attract, win, and keep clients, sales representatives must have strong communication and social skills. To get a better understanding of an applicant’s ability to work with prospects and customers, employers should ask candidates about examples of times they’ve successfully carried out complex business deals with customers.
When asking these types of questions, employers should look for answers that demonstrate a candidate’s ability to work with clients in order to land deals that satisfy everyone involved.
In an attempt to find the world’s greatest salesperson, OgilvyOne asked candidates to sell a brick. Yes, the small, red, rectangular block typically used for building. About the unique screening method, Mat Zucker, executive creative director of OgilvyOne said, “We thought it was time to reassert the importance of sales and honor the timeless craft of persuasion.”
Employers can take a page from OgilvyOne by asking candidates questions that push them outside of their comfort zones and test their raw selling abilities.
Because, hey — if you can successfully sell a brick, you can probably sell anything.
According to a Glassdoor survey, a lack of growth opportunities is one of the top three reasons that cause salespeople to look for new jobs.
Employers should screen applicants with questions like, “What is your ultimate career aspiration?” or “Where would you like to see yourself improve?” to get an understanding of their career goals.
If the candidate expresses a desire to pursue a career move that your company can’t provide, you might want to discuss this with the candidate — after all, you don’t want to end up going through the hiring process all over again because you hired someone whose career goals didn’t align with your organization.
Having an efficient sales team is crucial for any organization’s growth. While no salesperson is ever perfect, asking the right questions can help recruiters identify the best salespeople for their companies.
A version of this article originally appeared on the RIVS blog.