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Hiring salesreps.....interview questions??????

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Hiring salesreps.....interview questions??????

Old 12-09-2019, 08:37 PM
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Default Hiring salesreps.....interview questions??????

So what are some of your favorite questions when interviewing sales candidates?

I run a business (commercial printing) where outside salesreps are very much needed. Typical sales job in that you need to know at least a little about the product and more importantly, how to network and identify potential clients (they don't come calling us). Sales was my primary role for years until my father retired and I'll be the first to admit it's difficult.....which is why it can pay quite well. ALOT of people can take orders and "think" they are selling so how do you guys identify candidates that end up producing.
Old 12-09-2019, 08:56 PM
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I recommend you purchase the book “Who: The A Method for hiring”. This book was introduced to me a few years ago and it has been instrumental in elevating and identifying “A” level talent on our team. It’s worth the investment...
Old 12-10-2019, 03:54 AM
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I managed sales teams for decades. The best way to tell the difference between an order taker and a developer is to pursue a line of questioning focused on the individual’s research and development process. How do they search for potential new clients? What resources do they use? How do they approach a new client? How do they cold call? How many times will they take no before they give up? How do they onboard a new customer within the organization?

The other element to consider is whether your existing team can grow existing customers. Many reps are content to take what they get, and not explore expansion within existing customers. It is significantly less expensive to grow existing customers than find and develop new ones.
Old 12-10-2019, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by t500hps View Post
So what are some of your favorite questions when interviewing sales candidates?

I run a business (commercial printing) where outside salesreps are very much needed. Typical sales job in that you need to know at least a little about the product and more importantly, how to network and identify potential clients (they don't come calling us). Sales was my primary role for years until my father retired and I'll be the first to admit it's difficult.....which is why it can pay quite well. ALOT of people can take orders and "think" they are selling so how do you guys identify candidates that end up producing.
I'm in printing also, large format, (30 years) Finding a good salesmen who also knows the industry is dam near impossible now. We have 4 guys, and we could use 3-4 more. Our sales manager was for many years our production manager so he really knows his stuff. He is constantly frustrated with the people who come in looking for a job. You spend months training a person and they either just don't do a good job or leave

Old 12-10-2019, 05:10 AM
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It depends. If you are selling to USPS, Global 100 or smaller companies. What are you selling and what does your client base look like? Do you want to expand into a new client base? What does your perfect customer look like?

I think interview questions are going to vary depending on what you come back with. I will leave you with one of my favorites to discuss. Tell me about account planning and how you have used it to increase account penetration in the past.

Don’t forget ethics questions too. Are kickbacks ever OK? What is your limit on what you are willing to do for a customer and how have you dealt with a customer who had an over the line request in the past preserving the relationship (think customer wants to go to a strip club for dinner)
Old 12-10-2019, 05:13 AM
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I wouldn’t put any emphasis on what they know about your product currently. Just figure out if they can learn it. Being able to sell effectively is much more important than knowing the product ahead of time. As long as they have a willingness to learn, you can teach them your product offerings. Good salesmen inherently have a knack for it. They do need some training, but you can’t just train any product expert to be a sales rep.

biggest thing beyond that is have systems in place that are very light from a paperwork standing, and the people in place to support the sales force quickly.
Old 12-10-2019, 05:35 AM
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Look for a guy with a big mortgage, a trophy wife and a nice car.

He'll hump to maintain the lifestyle.
Old 12-10-2019, 05:36 AM
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My wife is now independent and successful. Well known in the state having spent over 25 years doing what she does. I’ll tell you the characteristics she has that you may want to look for.

nice appearance and well dressed. Very well spoken. Has a very well developed linked in profile. Researches and knows the product and company well before she walks into the interview. Shows up a little early. Has a complete reference binder as a leave behind (documented success and awards, sales position regionally and nationally, etc). Often leads a good portion of the interview with real world questions, concerns, observations, etc.. She does not company hop either making her a good long term candidate to a prospective employer. She knows the competition well and can explain every negative aspect in a non negative way. She is honest, straight forward and to the point.

At the end of the day you want a person that you could see yourself doing business with, after all they are selling themselves. For questions I would want to learn how they have achieved successes and hear about losses. What have they done to retain an unhappy client or to win a new one. What are their expectations on the workday. Will they address an issue that arises on a Saturday or Friday evening. Have they in the past, when and why. Perhaps discuss some real world challenges you have had or have and see what their approach may be.

Good sales people are wired differently. They will eat a shit sandwich with a smile. Not necessarily entrepreneurial but enjoy a piece of the action. First impressions are everything.

Old 12-10-2019, 05:50 AM
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Really,if you have to ask what questions to pose,you shouldn't be interviewing.If you know your business inside and out,do your homework and have a list of specific questions. You should know what you are looking for and get right to the subject.Don't try to be cute or tricky.
Old 12-10-2019, 06:10 AM
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I think the easiest way is just to fire all the women from the company and hire RussH's friend to do the selling.
Old 12-10-2019, 06:15 AM
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Don't waste time with silly interview questions. Require that interviewees bring with them a copy of the last few years W2's reflecting income that reflects a successful sales rep. Products, processes, services can be taught. Salesmanship is almost instinct. A combination of gift of gab and the desire to help people. 100% of the successful sales reps that I know genuinely have a desire to help people solve problems. 19 years of B2B enterprise/strategic account sales here. Everyone in an interview can talk the talk. But W2's show they can actually make it happen. The good ones are "coin operated"!!!
Old 12-10-2019, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by t500hps View Post
... so how do you guys identify candidates that end up producing.
I've never hired a stranger into a significant sales/marketing role. I either knew the guy or knew of the guy.
In your industry/market, who do you WISH you had as your sales guy? Make the list and go hunting.

Once you find the guys, cut to the chase with them and put numbers on it.
Be prepared to make an offer they can't refuse, and know why you're doing it.
Old 12-10-2019, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by chrispnet View Post
I've never hired a stranger into a significant sales/marketing role. I either knew the guy or knew of the guy.
In your industry/market, who do you WISH you had as your sales guy? Make the list and go hunting.

Once you find the guys, cut to the chase with them and put numbers on it.
Be prepared to make an offer they can't refuse, and know why you're doing it.

^^^^^^^ this ^^^^^^^

Your specific industry's existing sales reps are going to be your best source, and knowing who the top players are in the top companies with which you compete should be part of your regular owner duties. For help with this, utilize your own staff for help with gathering this information. If they're worth a spit, they already know who the best of their peers are out there in your company's sphere of business. If they don't, that's a big problem. I'd bet dollars to donuts that they probably even know each other personally, on a cursory level at the very least. Let your existing staff know that you are looking for another rep and ask them for recommendations and even put a referral program in place, with the a $500 or $1000 bonus to who brought that candidate in with them making it a certain period of time with the company or some-such. Making your existing staff a part of the process will help.

By pulling from this pool, you know they already have the ability to be a top producer in your scope of business. The key would then be why should they want to come to work for YOU and your company vs. the one they're currently at? And remember... the pay/bonus scale isn't everything, but it is the biggest thing. Different people respond to different things, but most top sales people want to be paid well for their efforts, but RECOGNITION is a huge one. Great sales people are usually extremely competitive. If you have an environment that people want to work at, and your compensation is at/near tops in the industry in your area, you'll have plenty of sales professionals to choose from.

Acquiring top sales people in any business is a recruiting effort, not a hiring one.

Also, as mentioned above somewhere... your support staff MUST be able to take the back end paperwork load off of your sales staff. Top performing sales people are thoroughbreds, and they need to be running the races, not pulling wagons, plows, and doing kiddie pony rides. If your support staff us not up to the task, or your process is burdensome on the sales rep after the sale, that is where your first efforts should be focused on hiring and streamlining process. You WILL lose top producers due to burdensome process... even if you pay very well.
Old 12-10-2019, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Flybull View Post
....Also, as mentioned above somewhere... your support staff MUST be able to take the back end paperwork load off of your sales staff. Top performing sales people are thoroughbreds, and they need to be running the races, not pulling wagons, plows, and doing kiddie pony rides. If your support staff us not up to the task, or your process is burdensome on the sales rep after the sale, that is where your first efforts should be focused on hiring and streamlining process. You WILL lose top producers due to burdensome process... even if you pay very well.
BINGO! So freaking true!
Old 12-10-2019, 08:09 AM
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Not that this is earth shattering info, but, I have noticed over the years that people who have been competitive all their lives (think sports, etc) generally can't stand to get beat by other people performing better than them. Hire people that have a background of being competitive ( and generally perform at the top of whatever they are competing in). They will go out to sell and feel like they need to outperform their peers.
Old 12-10-2019, 08:29 AM
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I'm a big believer in personality assessments as a selection tool for sales hiring. You will find that top performers all share certain common traits. Having those traits does not guarantee success, but lacking them virtually guarantees failure. There are several programs out there based on similar science, but we use TTI Success Insights. I used it internally for years and eventually became a certified reseller to offer it to my clients. Happy to go into more detail if it is of interest.
Old 12-10-2019, 10:45 AM
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Easy . . . do the same thing our reps do: ask you the cost to produce, have them add 30% and sell on price. 'Cuz you know . . . all businesses can live on 30% gross margin.

</sarc>
Old 12-10-2019, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by SalmonDaze View Post
Easy . . . do the same thing our reps do: ask you the cost to produce, have them add 30% and sell on price. 'Cuz you know . . . all businesses can live on 30% gross margin.

</sarc>
adding 30% and 30% margin are completely different.

Sales question:
Old 12-10-2019, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by head_hunter View Post
I'm a big believer in personality assessments as a selection tool for sales hiring. You will find that top performers all share certain common traits. erest.
I'm curious - what are those traits?
Old 12-10-2019, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by chrispnet View Post
I've never hired a stranger into a significant sales/marketing role. I either knew the guy or knew of the guy.
In your industry/market, who do you WISH you had as your sales guy? Make the list and go hunting.

Once you find the guys, cut to the chase with them and put numbers on it.
Be prepared to make an offer they can't refuse, and know why you're doing it.
Lot's of value here.
Two ways to hire "producers". One is to build the yourself through the "channel". For me, that starts in the warehouse. The highest producer in our business will top 1M this year. Straight commission. I hired him 20 years ago, with a business degree and put him to work cutting wire in the warehouse.
Others, I try and give known producers easier ways to make their expected income. More resources to grow their business of a combination of both.

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