How to interview a sales person

I came across two particularly good articles on how to interview and screen a sales person.

The first by Dave Kurlan provides an insightful list of 10 behaviours you’d want to see, and 10 bad ones too. He likes it if candidates:

  • talk concisely versus ramble
  • distract him from the interview strategy
  • push back and challenge me without starting an argument.

Read the rest of the article over here.

The second article is by Lee Salz, it’s longer and it’s really superb. He lists seven screening techniques to use, including a few I’d forgotten about. Each is explained in some detail. The seven are:

  1. be really clear on the profile of candidate you want
  2. always be recruiting, keep your eye out for possible hires
  3. reverse interviewing, where the candidates meets a peer-to-be and asks questions
  4. standardised interview questions
  5. mock sales call
  6. online assessment or personality profile
  7. asking them to write a mini business plan.

I think that asking the candidate to put a plan together is a great idea. Someone who is really keen on the job may well have done it already. I had a number of interviews before winning my role to look after Cisco’s relationship with BP in the UK, and had prepared a 90 day plan as part of my interview preparation. It helped me think clearly about the role.

A mock sales call is a great idea. For a solution sales environment, I’d suggest you stage it as an initial meeting with a client, as if the candidate is taking over a patch, where the client already deals with your firm but has been frustrated with service delivery and has to reduce their IT spend. The candidate therefore has to perform discovery, which should expose how well they can diagnose and prioritise findings.

Read the full article here.