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7 Sales Hiring Questions to Identify Top Talent
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Data-Driven Hiring: Scientific Selection of Sales Stars

Free eBook: Data-Driven Hiring

Learn how predictive statistics and data can help you hire the best sales reps.

Sales interview questions from Chris Harrington by InsideSales.com

Chris Harrington

Domo President Chris Harrington has seen and heard it all in his 25+ years in sales leadership.

He’s been sucked in by stellar resumes and smooth-talking salespeople who later turned out to be total busts.

At the Sales Acceleration Summit, Harrington shared seven key sales interview questions he asks sales candidates when they make it to his desk. His goal with all of these questions is to cut through the BS and find the top performers who will propel his organization to new heights.

1. Tell me about a deal you won.

After the candidate describes the deal, Harrington follows up with this series of questions:

  • What were you selling?

  • Who were you selling it to? (title, company, name)

  • Who were you competing against?

  • What was your value proposition?

  • What were the deal terms you secured?

  • Why did you win?

You can use these questions to determine whether the sales candidate will fit into your company culture. Will this rep’s style mesh with your system of selling?

Here are some other insights you can gain from asking them about a deal they won:

  • Do they give team credit or do they take all of the credit?

  • Do they work well with others or are they more of a lone wolf?

  • Do they know how to compete or have they just been a simple market leader?

  • Were they securing deals that fit your typical terms?

2. Tell me about a deal you lost.

Again, Harrington follows up with a series of questions about the lost deal:

  • What were you selling?

  • Who were you selling it to? (title, company, name)

  • Who were you competing against?

  • What was your value proposition?

  • What were the deal terms you offered?

  • Why did you lose?

  • Who did you lose to?

Here, you’re looking for accountability:

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  • Do they blame others?

  • Do they blame the product?

  • Do they blame the competition for lowering the price?

  • Do they truly take accountability?

  • Do they know why they lost?

You can dig even deeper with these follow-up questions:

  • What did you learn?

  • How did you change after that loss?

  • What will you do differently going forward?

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

It’s important to remember that this interview is a sales call — probably the candidate’s most important sales call.

When they work for you, do you want them to fold whenever they are asked about price and just give up the details? Or do you want them to continue to drive value?

Really good sales executives won’t answer this question immediately. They’ll push for further clarification of the role, further clarification of your needs, and they will work more aggressively to connect their skill set to your challenges before helping to set a number.

4. How do you divide your time between prospecting, discovery, proposal, follow-up, closing and servicing?

Many sales reps simply don’t plan their days. Before they know it, they have wasted 30 percent of their selling time.

The challenges associated with managing a sales pipeline, closing deals and servicing relationships with existing accounts are significant.

Someone who knows how to organize his or her time is incredibly valuable to you.

5. Why should we hire you?

This is where they get a chance to sell themselves and do their own infomercial. Do they ramble or answer the question concisely and close the loop?

6. What are your short-term goals? (30, 60, 90, 120 days)

You want to see that the rep has actually considered how he or she is going to approach the responsibilities and opportunities with your company.

By this time, really good sales executives will be working out in their heads how they’re going to make money with you. They’re going to have gone deep on your ramp schedule and your expectations for new reps.

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If a rep doesn’t understand the ramp process, that rep won’t see a way to make money with you. And that’s not a good position to be in at all.

7. What questions do you have for me?

This is probably one of the most overlooked questions in interviewing sales professionals. If they aren’t interviewing you as much as you’re interviewing them, they’re not high quality. They just need a job.

It’s also a red flag if the candidate gives an answer like this: “Well, no, I’ve gone through eight people before I got here. I don’t have any other questions.”

But the biggest rule is that if the candidate immediately asks about compensation, it’s game over. Harrington says a candidate who does that is not worth his time.

The value of good sales interview questions

Hiring the wrong sales rep can be costly. After you recruit, hire, train and provide the normal ramp and runway, you are at least six months deep. Replacing a poor rep will set you back significantly.

Take your time. Don’t get fooled by somebody’s resume. Make them walk through these questions. You’ll be glad you did.

Watch Chris Harrington discuss sales hiring best practices in his presentation at the Sales Acceleration Summit, which is embedded below.

Data-Driven Hiring: Scientific Selection of Sales Stars

Free eBook: Data-Driven Hiring

Learn how predictive statistics and data can help you hire the best sales reps.