After every interview, an employer must ask themselves:
“Should I hire this person?” Or more specifically, “Will this person bring value to my team?”
Unfortunately, the cream of the crop can be difficult to pinpoint during the interview process, especially in sales. The work of a sales rep relies heavily on context. Every sales meeting and client interaction offers different challenges that require tailored judgements and responses. So, it’s difficult to judge how a sales rep candidate would actually perform in such situations through a classic Q&A interview.
The good news is, the secret to hiring the right sales rep simply lies in asking the right sales interview questions. The best questions truly shed light on a candidate’s potential and performance. With valuable insight, you can more easily make the right hiring decisions and secure the best reps on your team.
Here are 7 sales interview questions to help you do just that:
1. What steps do you take to understand your prospects?
This question is of the most important things any sales rep must do, so make sure they’re doing it well! Understanding a prospect and their situation is essential for building rapport and anticipating possible objections. Most importantly though, it gives reps insight into a prospect’s pain points, which is crucial for personalizing a sales pitch. This will help reps show potential clients how your product will cater to their specific needs.
There is an array of methods reps use to better understand their prospects. You want to select candidates that research their prospect beforehand, ask them insightful questions, or gather information from others in the industry.
2. How do you build trust with your prospects?
A mere 18% of consumers trust sales reps. To some extent, this isn’t very surprising. When you consider the recent uprise of scam emails and calls, it’s easy to see why so many people are afraid of trusting salespeople and getting themselves tied up in a fraudulent deal. It’s important now, more than ever, to ensure that sales rep candidates are capable of fostering trust in their prospects.
Mike Schultz, president of RAIN group, mentions multiple ways reps can do this. Some examples include showing off their credibility, dependability, and integrity to potential clients.
Schultz says that reps can do this by:
- Knowing their product well
- Keeping promises
- Being honest about what their product can and can’t do
Asking this sales interview question will help you identify reps who are capable of building trust and forming strong relationships with their prospects.
3. Name a time when you overcame an objection and how you did it.
This is an important sales interview question to ask because objections are tricky to deal with and come up often. Prospects tend to hesitate to hear out what reps have to say. They often feel like the rep is wasting their time, offering something that has no value to them, or simply trying to rip them off.
Whether it be a time, value, or price objection, it's crucial that sales reps know how to successfully counter push-back and drive home sales with even the most reluctant individuals.
To overcome sales objections, the best reps tend to ask follow-up questions, reinforce the product’s value, or emphasize how the product has helped clients in the past. You want to make sure a rep will not accept defeat and will be able to push their product’s value forward in the face of objection.
4. How do you deal with rejection?
There’s one thing all reps know: rejection is an unavoidable evil in the sales world. Unanswered emails, declined phone calls, and even face-to-face dismissal are all realities sales reps must endure. That being said, it is extremely important that reps know how to stay persistent in the face of failure.
So, make sure your candidate can move past rejection with a strong and positive mindset. Maybe they use rejection as motivation to work harder, or see it as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Whatever it may be, they should know how to prevent failure from affecting their motivation and performance.
5. How do you manage your time?
Sales is all about time management.
How long can I spend at this meeting with prospect A? What about prospect B? Do I have time to visit prospect C?
These are all common decisions sales reps must make on a daily basis. To answer these questions wisely, reps need to know how to manage their time effectively.
Many successful sales reps own scheduling applications or route planners that help them track and plan their time spent on the road and at meetings. Others practice various strategies to handle their time effectively. According to sales leader Grant Cardone, these can range from setting priorities and creating schedules to boosting productivity.
Make sure your candidates have some effective method to oversee and control how they spend their work hours. You don’t want them wasting time or putting themselves in a time-crunch, both of which can be detrimental to closing deals. So make sure to add this important sales job interview question to your list.
6. How do you practice empathy with your prospects?
Bestselling author Anthony Iannarino positions empathy as the key to building strong relationships with prospects. According to Iannarino, practicing empathy allows reps to truly connect with prospects and get a clearer understanding of the issues they are facing. With a magnified look at a prospect’s unique situation, reps can more easily emphasize how their product can solve a prospect’s specific problems.
Empathy is also an important ingredient in building trust. If a sales rep actively tries to understand a prospect and shows genuine concern for their problems, prospects will know that they are on their side and are rooting for their success.
To practice empathy, sales reps should actively listen to their prospect and adjust their speech based on a prospect’s verbal and body language. Both techniques give reps better insight into a prospect’s feelings and concerns, as well as show that they truly care for their well-being.
7. Name a time when you had to think on your feet.
Sales reps are constantly interacting with potential clients. Presentations, appointments, and calls make up a big chunk of a salesperson’s workday. With all of this communication, sales reps are bound to encounter some pretty unexpected questions and comments from their prospects.
It’s crucial for reps to be able to think on-the-spot to effectively respond to these. The last thing you want your rep to do is choke up or stall a response in the face of an unexpected comment or question. This could make your rep come off as unprepared or unqualified, which could de-value your product in return.
You also want your rep to think critically in these situations. That is, you want them to say the right thing based on the context of the situation. When faced with an unexpected remark, the best sales reps are able to take a step back, analyze what’s going on, and respond appropriately. Failure to do so could seriously hurt their chances to make a deal.
To test how a candidate reacts in a high pressure situation, have a quick role play with them. Act as the prospect while they act as the rep. Spit out something completely unexpected or out of the blue. Tell them you’ve heard bad reviews about the product from a friend, or that it’s missing X, Y, and Z. Then see how they react. Do they respond quickly with the right words, or do they fumble?
In sales, hiring the most qualified reps can be a difficult and daunting task.
With the right sales interview questions, you’ll get valuable insight into the habits, strategies, and overall potential of your sales rep candidates. It’ll make the selection process a lot more effective, and you’ll be able to accurately pinpoint the best candidates to hire.
Ask the above sales interview questions to secure the best reps on your team!