Just as a good sales candidate prepares for an interview, interviewers also need to ensure their skills are up to speed. Fail to prepare and you risk employing the wrong person, costing you valuable time and money. And, don’t forget, you also have the added complication of trying to probe an individual who is well versed at positioning a product or service in a favourable light in a short period of time. In short you’ll be interviewing a sales person selling themselves. No easy task.
Whilst traits such as good communication and confidence skills should be immediately apparent from the moment you meet your prospective employee, the very best sales people will have many other qualities. Specialist recruiter Randstad shares their top 5 sales interview tips to help you delve a little deeper and secure that top candidate.
1. Build a rapport with your candidate
Putting your candidate under too much pressure is a common sales interview pitfall. Whilst we all know that the sales sector is fast-paced and competitive, you would be better off spending time discovering how your candidate achieves their targets in this environment as opposed to re-creating it in during your interview. Tapping into your softer skills and making your interviewee feel more at ease means you’re more likely to unearth the person they really are and the employee they could be.
2. Don’t jump on the curve ball bandwagon
Many industries use these questions to showcase whether a candidate can think quickly and creatively on their feet. The trend for “sell me this desk” won’t help you get the most out of a sales interview and won’t necessarily help you select the right candidate. If you like throwing in a curve ball question, test it out on your colleagues first to ensure it really adds value. Remember - your candidate will be deciding whether they want to be part of your credible business too.
3. Think about your long-term business and sales goals
If you’re looking for someone ambitious and loyal that brings some sustainability to your sales force, avoid the pitfall of simply asking: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” The answer you receive will tell you very little. Instead focus the question on what skills a candidate would like to have developed in 5 years. This will give you the evidence you need to identify whether the candidate’s aspirations meets your organisation’s goals.
4. Tailor questions to your company culture and the skills required to achieve success
In a sales environment, specific personalities and behaviours can separate a good salesperson from a great salesperson. Here are some good questions to ask if you’re looking for someone who is driven, has initiative and has strong career aspirations.
Driven – describe exactly how you accomplished a recent goal/what are your expectations of working here?
Initiative – give me some examples where you’ve gone the extra mile/describe an incident where you had to think on your feet?
Impact/aspiration – how far do you think you can go in your career and why?/what can you contribute to our business?
5. Think about your organisation’s sales-specific challenges
Will a good all-rounder fit the bill or do you need something niche? Before your interview think about the business priorities you’ll need your candidate to focus on to deliver results. Is it to generate leads, to overcome big buyer’s objections or to close the deal? Prepare questions in advance that will allow you to delve deeper into whether your candidate can deliver the return on investment your business demands.
By Gemma Umney, Randstad
Whether you’re looking for a sales position yourself or you need support sourcing a quality sales candidate, visit our website. Alternatively, if you’d like to use your sales skills in a fresh way, why not consider a rewarding career in recruitment.