Ask the right sales interview questions

Ask the right interview questions to help your agency find the right salesperson faster.

I’ve helped several clients hire salespeople for their agencies. Sales recruiting is tough, because salespeople are good at selling themselves—but may not be good at selling your agency’s services.

Asking good interview questions—and paying close attention to the answers—will help you find better salespeople.

Use these questions to find the right salesperson faster, so you can get them producing revenues ASAP for your agency.

Sales interview questions for agencies

The key is to focus on values (what they believe) and behaviors (how they act) that match what you need in the sales role. Past performance tends to predict future performance.

Be sure to ask followup questions to drill down into their answers, to understand what happened—and to uncover if someone’s making things up.

  1. What appeals to you about this job?
  2. Walk me through a typical day at <previous role>.
  3. Over a month, how would you like to split your time between new prospects, current clients, and activities that aren’t focused on specific leads?
  4. Do you see yourself as a specialist or a “full stack” salesperson?
  5. What was the key to your <accomplishment at previous role>?
  6. What did you do in <previous role> that no one else could have done?
  7. If you were selling for <my agency>, what would you highlight to prospects?
  8. What was your sales quota at <previous job>?
  9. Thinking about past roles, what have you liked and not liked in a sales comp plan?
  10. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever sold?
  11. What do you do to keep up with trends in our industry?
  12. Tell me about a time a client was unhappy after you closed the deal.
  13. How do you keep track of details?
  14. Who’s the most demanding client you’ve ever worked with?
  15. How long was the sales cycle at <previous role>? How did you manage that?
  16. How do you stay in touch with leads who aren’t ready to buy?

Summary for your agency

Before you post the job, be sure to decide whether you need a Hunter (someone who’s finding and closing new prospects), a Farmer (someone who’s taking care of and upselling existing clients), and/or a consultative salesperson (someone who can guide prospects through a long sales cycle). This will guide where you focus the interview.

Remember, asking the right questions will help you find the right salesperson faster. Ask followup questions to dig deeper. And always check references before you make an offer.

Question: What’s your favorite interview question when you hire salespeople?

Image credit: Photo by Flazingo Photos via Creative Commons

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