In last week’s blog posting, Improve Your Sales Hiring Success Rate: One Method That Can Help, we discussed how creating a standardized sales hiring template will boost sales productivity and increase your sales hiring success rate. The following is an example of a statistical interviewing template that I would use for a hypothetical consultative sales business. The template describes my 6 desired sales traits, with weightings, and my 3 sample questions per trait. Your desired traits and test questions will differ based on your offers, market, and culture.
1. Intellectual Curiosity (25%) - I need someone who will do more than the research required to differentiate themselves and ask the appropriate questions of a prospect. More importantly, I want them to be smart, listen well, have follow-up questions, and add-value in every sales discussion. I also want them to take the time to research things they don’t know and show evidence of being a life-long learner.
- What are some of the challenges you see facing our industry?
- Which business book author or leader do you respect most and why?
- What did you have to learn to be proficient in your current position?
2. Tenacity (20%) - It takes, on average, seven attempts to get an executive prospect to listen to your value-proposition. The average salesperson stops at four attempts. I want someone who will make the seven attempts without being annoying and tarnishing the brand. They must be equally tenacious securing internal resources helping to win deals.
- Have you ever rescued a lost deal?
- How long should you try to meet with a new prospect at an important target company?
- What was your biggest career setback and how did you handle it?
3. Creativity (20%) - I want creative thinkers who can invent and apply new ideas and concepts in all selling environments-- from prospecting through contract negotiation. What is their networking strategy- can they think of innovative ways to meet hard to reach prospects? Can they initiate contact with a prospect for the 7’th time without being a pest and by adding some new information of value? What new ideas, concepts, or resources would they introduce during the buying cycle to tip the buying decision in our favor?
- What is the most creative tactic or unique resource you’ve used to meet a prospect or win a deal?
- What was your best idea in your current role for doing something in a new and different way?
- Can you suggest any new markets we might pursue and how we might go about it?
4. Financial Ambition (15%) - Ultimately, my new salesperson’s life goals need to have a large financial component to keep them self-motivated. This will save a great deal of my sales management time and effort. I might assign a greater weight to this trait in a less consultative, more transactional sale.
- How important is potential financial reward in your career selection?
- How do you prefer to be paid (risk vs reward preferences)?
- What activities do you pursue in your leisure time?
5. Social Nature (10%) - I need personality types who enjoy being around people and can show empathy and understanding for the life and career goals of others. Successful teaming in past life, work, and in sport settings is a good indicator of future success in my sales model.
- What organizations or communities outside of work do you belong to?
- Do others consider you a good teammate? Why?
- How did you gain the support of others to help you reach your goals in your last position?
6. Competitive Spirit (10%) - Very simply, I want bad losers but not those who are afraid to fail. It’s essential my sales team knows when they are winning and when they are losing and why. They must be able to act aggressively when there is nothing to lose. They must also demonstrate that they can readily rebound from a loss and be willing to help the organization learn from it.
- How do you compare yourself to the other salespeople in your current organization?
- What was your most satisfying sales win and why? Your most disappointing loss?
- How do you know if you are winning or losing in a sales situation?
Candidate Total: ________
Other candidate impressions and observations: __________________________________________________________________
Sales roles are too strategic and expensive to be staffed subjectively. Use a team approach to build your template traits to avoid hiring people only in your own likeness. Consider including the traits of your best performers. If you would like to discuss the template in more detail, please contact me.