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My #1 Tip for Interviewing Salespeople: How to Predict Sales Performance

My #1 Tip for Interviewing Salespeople: How to Predict Sales Performance

This one’s for the sales managers and CEO’s out there:

Hiring the right salespeople can be the biggest pain in the ass.

You spend the time and money to find them, salary and bonuses to woo them, invest in training and development to get them off to a good start, and then wait six months to see what happens.

And even then, with no sales in the door, you keep them around.


Because salespeople are really good at selling….


And they sell to you why you should keep them around.

Well, today, I’m revealing my number one tip for hiring salespeople that we actually use in our recruiting division at JPM Sales Partners.

I might be letting out my biggest secret here, but you deserve to know because I don’t want to see you hire another salesperson that is really good at interviewing but doesn’t deliver.

So here it is: my number one tip for interviewing salespeople.

Treat the entire interview process as a sale and see how good they are at selling.

Pay absolutely no attention to what they say or what is on their resume.  Pay the most attention to their behaviors.  This requires some knowledge on your part of what making an effective sale looks like.

Typically, salespeople are pretty good at making presentations.  In an interview, the presentation is the time you spend together asking and answering questions. As you learned from my free training a couple weeks ago, there are 8 steps to closing the sale and the presentation is only one of them. And the presentation is actually a small part of the decision that will make your customers buy from you (or your future salesperson).

At our firm, when we place salespeople in roles, we don’t have to guess how effective they will be at selling when they get into the field.  We know, because of how they “sold” us on the recommending them.  We evaluate them before they ever submit a resume and use an 85 point assessment that evaluates their behaviors - StealthEQ- The Undercover Sales Etiquette Assessment.  

The interview process starts before the first email exchange. What will your clients experience when the salesperson emails them? What will they see when they Google them before they arrive to their office? How good is the salesperson at qualifying the meeting (interview) or following up?  It is based on the emotional journey of the client during the sale process and depends on your salesperson's emotional intelligence. We measure that through behavior.

Seems pretty straightforward, but rarely do people interview this way.  And certainly an HR person who has no experience in sales would find it difficult to evaluate candidates on this level.

So, what is the best question to ask on an interview?

There is no best question, because the answer doesn’t matter. How they answer the question matters, especially ones that could be considered objections, but the actual words they use are irrelevant.  

If you are struggling to get good questions, think about what your customer is asking, whether they verbalize it or not. Certainly, they're not asking, "What is your biggest weakness?" "What is your greatest strength?" They might be asking something more like, "Can I trust you?" "Do I like you," "Do you care about me?" (

We're taught that customers say "no" three times before they say, "yes." Do you say "no" to your sales candidates? Whether verbally or subconciously (not responding to emails right away, making them ask for the appointment instead of inviting them in).  If you don't, how do you know they will persist when the client says, "no?" Because most salespeople don't.

By the way, saying "no" doesn't mean being a jerk.  The candidate needs to want work for you, after all.  And asking tough questions doesn't mean being rude.  I don't know about you, but when I come across a prospect that is a rude jerk, I bow out gracefully.  I don't want that customer.  Nor does a qualified candidate rarely on the market want to work for an employer like that. They will bow out gracefully, too. As they should. 

Considering only 5% of salespeople will reach the levels you would most desire, it is difficult to find the people who are already masters at selling AND who are looking for a new opportunity.  I won’t plug the Virtual Sales Academy here, but you can see why I started it and the advantage it brings to small - medium sized business so they can train green salespeople from scratch, and not have to worry if an expensive, experienced salesperson will produce (expensive and experienced do not equal results).

So, what is your best interview question or piece of advice? Let me know in the comments below!

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Sunday, 16 June 2019

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