/ Hiring for Sales? How to Avoid Getting Sold by a Professional

Let’s face it: Most salespeople are good at interviewing. In my 25-plus years building sales teams, I’ve met the best of the best. And I’ve hired a few who I thought were going to be huge contributors, but they didn’t live up to the expectations.

Hiring the wrong person can cost you 15 months and, as you know, that’s too much time to invest in people who don’t fit into your organization. Over my career, I’ve developed a few interview questions to help reduce the chance of another bad hire. Hopefully these tips will help you, too.

To avoid getting sold by a professional, here a few of the questions you absolutely need to ask:

1.    Tell me about a deal you won and tell me about a deal you lost.

Here, I’m looking to see what kind of person a candidate is —a team player, or does he or she take all the credit? A sale is rarely closed because of just one person but if that person tries to take all the credit, they probably aren’t going to fit in my organization.

I believe that getting candidates to share their perspective on a lost deal is probably one of the most valuable pieces of knowledge they can bring to the table. Their answers will show if they take responsibility, if they want to improve, and how they handle rejection. If candidates don’t know why a deal was lost, it’s not a game changer. But if they do, I’m much more likely to bring them to my team.

These questions are also a genius way to get backdoor recommendations and to determine if they are being honest. I like to ask for contact names and organizations and terms of deals. Then, I have what I need to get references. This is such a simple tactic, and not enough people use it.

2.    What were your last three years of W-2’s?

This is a great question to ask because it really tests candidates’ skill sets. Good sales pros will never answer this question right away, and instead will ask more questions about the needs of the company to make sure their skills are aligned with the goals of the company. They will also make sure they demonstrate value before starting a money conversation.

3.    What questions do you have for me? And, Why should we hire you?

The sales interview is the most important sales call of the sales professional’s career, hands down. No matter how many interviews they have been through, however, they should still have questions for me. In fact, great candidates will be interviewing me just as much as I am interviewing them. If candidates aren’t asking me questions, I see red flags. And, if candidates can’t sell themselves, how are they going to sell my product?

These were just a few questions that have helped me grow world-class sales teams.  I shared more interviewing tips in a presentation I gave earlier this year at the InsideSales Sales Acceleration Summit. You can also get this and other materials for integrating data with sales management on Domo’s Learn Center, here.

Tags: sales

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