Guide: Don’t be sold by a seller!

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Don’t be sold by a seller!

Last Updated: April 16, 2020

Once upon a time, the number one thing that kept Business Leaders up at night was the war for talent. Today, we’re all very much sleepless due to the current worldwide focus on covid-19. However, consider that the key to rebounding swiftly will be an organization's ability to leverage their world class sales team. As a hiring manager or business leader, the key will be to ensure you’re investing in the right talent to drive your business forward.

Unfortunately, hiring managers are often paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake during the staffing process and being forced to live with a bad hire. Consider the impact of a bad sales hire. They are the face of your business while interacting directly with current and future customers. Well, there’s data to support such feelings. According to HBR, 80% of employee turnover stems from bad hiring decisions. We’ve all been there. Welcome to the world of recruitment.

Sales talent (Account Executives, Sales Development Reps, etc.) remains a priority for defending revenue in times of hardship and growing rapidly in times of plenty. The right hire can certainly propel your organization forward, but how do you know when you’ve found the candidate of your dreams? After all, a sales person’s job is to...well, sell. If they are expected to sell your company’s product or service, they should certainly be able to sell themselves! So how do you ask the right questions during a sales interview to truly move past the sales pitch and to fully understand if the candidate has the right skills and experience to meet the expectations of the position?

Fortunately, InterviewGPS is automating effective interview guides for all positions including sales roles. Leveraging interview guides removes ambiguity from the process and ensures interviewers are equipped to make the best decisions on placing talent for their business. I find the following questions to be among the most effective in getting to the heart of a sales candidate’s skills and experience.

Guide Creator:Jules Consulting

Jules Consulting is a boutique human resources consulting firm that specializes in coaching, recruitment, and HR business partnership solutions. Explore how Jules Consulting can help you to recruit and develop your sales team here

Criteria this guide covers

Interview GPS organizes questions by personal values, competencies, and skills. Click a criteria to explore more questions

Business Acumen Business acumen enables business professionals to follow a logical progression that helps them make the right decisions to drive the best business results for their own companies and clients.
Collaboration Works collectively with others to come up with ideas, make decisions, and achieve goals
Persistence Remains motivated to accomplish goals in the face of adversity or obstacles
Results Orientation Focuses on desired results and sets and achieves challenging goals
Solutions Orientation Solutions orientation describes the ability to uncover a problem, identifying the source of the challenge, and to add value by providing the right way or a better way of doing things.
Sales General sales skills, such as understanding the buyer, establishing trust, and closing deals

Describe your process to determine if a prospective client/customer is a good fit for your product or service. Please share a specific example from your past experience where you used these methods to evaluate a prospect client/customer within your sales process.

The most successful sellers create lasting relationships with their clients/customers by adding true value to their business. Closing deals is the result of understanding and solving your customer’s problems. Additionally, forcing a product/service onto a customer will only result in low customer retention. With this question, your goal is to understand if the candidate has experience leveraging value-based selling methods rather than simply relying on persuasion.


Describe how you have been able to meet or exceed your performance objectives in your last role. Please give specific examples of actions and/or strategies that you were directly responsible for taking.

Resumes are great. The best ones attract you to a candidate by describing their accomplishments. However, once you are actually meeting with a candidate during the interview process, it's important to understand how the candidate achieved success. It’s easy to report on a company objective (such as sales performance), but you can truly understand your candidate’s qualifications by allowing them to explain their role in driving the success.


Please share a specific example of a time where you successfully overcame objections from a prospective client/customer during the sales process.

It wouldn’t be sales if it didn’t include copious amounts of "no thank you" replies. While the goal isn’t to force a product or service onto a prospect, the best sales candidates are able to overcome objections by exploring solutions with the prospect. This question provides insight into the candidate’s ability to handle rejection and more importantly, work to turn a "no" into a "yes!"


Give me an example where you collaborated with individuals or teams outside your business area to deliver a positive outcome.

Let’s think about collaboration as successfully leveraging internal resources. In fact, one of the greatest indicators of success for a sales person is their ability to leverage their internal network as part of the sales cycle to develop a “win win” for the client and for the business. You want to understand how the candidate has been able to work collaboratively with internal stakeholders in the past as a predictor of future success.


Please describe your current company's product or service. How does your company achieve its objectives?

A sales person's pitch and their ability to successfully sell a product or service is contingent on their understanding of 1) how the product or service works and 2) how their company achieves their goals (i.e. makes money). They need to be subject matter experts to convey accurate and timely information to the prospect. Through this question, you can explore the depth of their knowledge to ensure true expertise.

About the Author

Bryan Rosenthal

Bryan Rosenthal is the Principal & Managing Partner of Jules Consulting, a boutique HR firm providing HR business partnership, coaching, and recruitment solutions. He developed his career as a strategic HR Leader within start-ups and large-scale global organizations. Today, Bryan continues to partner with organizations to achieve their strategic objectives through human capital solutions. Additionally, he is passionate about helping individuals achieve personal and professional growth by making coaching affordable and accessible for all.

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