By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
A survey of over 1200 sales leaders revealed that sales hiring plans are up but most companies are just recycling the bottom 20%. How can the CustomerCentric Selling® hiring manager interview to find winners so that your sales team isn’t staffed with the non-performers from your competitor?
The first step is to change your preliminary screening interviews to uncover CustomerCentric Selling® aptitude and selling skills.
Many companies focus on industry experience, market knowledge and years of revenue achievement as the chief criteria in selecting a candidate. The initial interview questions posed to the sales candidate are intended to determine the candidate’s success selling in a specific market.
Examples of such preliminary screening questions are:
- What was your quota achievement for the past five years?
- How much new revenue did you generate? How much profit?
- What companies did you prospect? What companies did you close?
- What were your biggest deals?
- What geography did you cover?
This is a flawed technique if you want successful hires, because these questions, while important, reveal neither selling skills nor characteristics (good and bad habits) of the candidate.
Industry experience and market knowledge are key components of sales competence. But a singular focus on these two areas will reveal little about a candidate’s CustomerCentric Selling® sales skills.
To gain greater insight to the candidate’s skill set and habits with screening questions, you need to modify your questioning technique in the initial screening interviews.
Try these interview questions instead:
- What companies did you close?
- What were your biggest deals?
- Why did those companies buy?
- What were the steps you took from “cold call to close?”
What to look for:
1. Does the sales rep understand the value of their offering to customers, and can he or she describe the value and capability clearly to you?
If so, they are likely to learn and understand the value your company and offering brings to your customer. In other words, these sales candidates intuitively (or through past sales training) develop solutions with the prospect.
2. In describing the steps taken to control the sales cycle from cold call to close (the sales process), does the rep show an understanding of how the customer buys? Does the candidate’s response show proactive control of the sales process, with each step advancing the deal to closure?
Beware! Watch out for the egocentric response, “Those companies bought because I knocked down the doors and sold them!” While tenacity may be an admirable sales quality, it is NOT why customers buy. Look for brains, not just persistence.
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