Interview Advice For Sales Reps (And Managers)

One of the most challenging things to do as a sales manager is to determine if the person sitting across from you in an interview will be an ‘A’ player.  Will he or she be the next superstar?  Can this person ‘make it rain’?  Can I rely on them to exceed their quota?

Sales Managers consistently ask me what tips or tricks they can use in an interview to ensure hiring an ‘A’ player.  Since SBI has started measuring ‘Ramp to Productivity Failure Rate’ (aka: how many of your people hit their quota vs. how many fail and leave the company), it has slowly been increasing.  Our median rate 9 years ago was 42%.  It is now 52%.  This means 52% of all new hires FAIL.  This means over half of all new sales hires don’t make their quota in year one.  Ouch.

The only true way to hire ‘A’ players is to have a robust Talent Management Program.  This includes 5 major components: Talent Definition, Acquisition, Evaluation, Selection and Development.   A good TM program will attract, select, retain and develop ‘A’ players.

Talent Management

Talent Management

But what happens when you don’t have a TM program?  What happens when you are actually in the interview asking questions and listening to the candidate’s answers?  What do you look for at the ‘moment of truth’?

4 Sure Signs that indicate an ‘A’ player:

#1 – Sense of Urgency. ‘A’ players have a high sense of urgency.  They need to get it done NOW. Whatever it is; the longer it takes to accomplish the more frustrated they become.  They are ‘A’ players because they challenge the customer.  The build trust with the decision maker, not just a ‘good’ relationship. Challenging customers results in increased sales. The challenge comes from the need to expedite the sale.  Thus, urgency is the opposite of compliance.  You don’t want your sales people to be compliant.

TIP: Look for answers around impatience and 4th quarter comebacks.  (Aka: Eli Manning and the New York Giants)

#2 – Enthusiasm.  ‘A’ players are passionate about their work.  They get up and stay excited all day.  They love to sell and go through brick walls to do it.  They have a real passion around selling and enjoy the hunt. (We call these wolves)

TIP:  Notice answers around work ethic matched with excitement.  Passion is a key differentiator between ‘A’ and ‘C’ players.  If they mention how great they form relationships, kick them to the curb.

READ TIPS #3 and #4


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