The first step in preparing for a behavioral interview is to determine the characteristics that lead to selling success in your organization. Curious about what types of questions you should include? Any sales behavioral interview should include the seven questions below.
1.Revenue Attainment – What is the highest revenue achieved by the candidate?
Most hiring sales managers prefer a candidate who has characteristically achieved the revenue threshold represented in their annual quota on a regular basis. Some sales managers look for sales people with “potential” and the drive to beat a bigger revenue number than attained previously. Both positions are valid but the question remains “Which path works best for your product or service, and your organization?”
2. Revenue Velocity – How many sales were closed per month, per year?
In addition to reaching a revenue number, the hiring manager should figure out the usual number of individual deals closed by the sales person in any given time period. The selling skills and experience required to close two deals per month valued at $20K each are quite different than those needed to close twenty sales worth $2K each.
3. What Business Managers and Senior Executives were called on and closed?
If your products or services are sold to controllers and Chief Financial Officers, then you should determine whether the candidate has previously sold to this functional area, and ask questions to see whether or not the sales rep understands the business issues associated with people with those job titles.
4. What standard benchmarks in the selling cycle does the candidate track?
Does this bear a resemblance to your sales process? For example, if your sale demands that the sales rep calls on several executives to uncover their needs and determine the value, then has to coordinate a site visit or demonstration as proof, and finally to prepare a comprehensive proposal, you should look for similar sales process experiences in your candidates.
5. What is the candidate’s proficiency and experience in lead generation and final sale negotiation?
Two of the most critical selling skills are: finding and developing new interested sales prospects and negotiating the final sales deal with the decision maker. In some organizations, these key selling responsibilities are not directly completed by the sales rep, but rather by specialized teams — pre-sales teams for lead generation, or sales management for negotiation. Does the skill set and experience of the candidate align with how your company handles these tasks?
6. Phone or Field sales? Home office or a centralized shared office?
Is your sales cycle conducted over the phone or does it require in-person visits with the client? Do sales reps work from home offices or from a centralized sales office? The background and preferences of a sales person shouldn’t conflict with your company’s logistics – how and where you manage the selling process.
7. Are specialized or technical skills required to sell your offering?
Customers buy from sales reps that are sincere and knowledgeable. Do your sales reps need to have specific technical knowledge, skills and/or education to sell your offering? Finding a candidate who has these skills is more important than the years of experience in the field.
Regrettably past performances are no guarantee of possible future results; however, the responses you gain from behavioral interview questioning have a tendency to be 40-50% more accurate in determining how a sales rep will perform than the general interview questions everyone has heard and asked over their career.
Use these seven questions in your next sales interview, and plan on follow-up inquiries to satisfy yourself that the candidate’s description of their selling behavior and experience make them the most likely to succeed on your sales team.