How To Recruit The Best Sales Talent

Q&A With Rick Hebert, Director Of Sales Development For Sherriff-Goslin Roofing

Atlas Roofing
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What questions do you ask new-hire candidates while interviewing them?

When interviewing for sales positions, there are two main objectives I am trying to accomplish. One is to determine if this particular candidate is a good fit for our team. In other words, would this candidate’s personality blend in well with others and would their values complement our core values? The second is to determine whether there is a strong probability that this person can add sales revenue to our organization.

It is important to realize that these two objectives are distinctly different but often confused. For instance, it is entirely possible that a candidate could be a good fit but unable to sell effectively. Conversely, they may be able to sell but be a horrible fit and have a detrimental effect on the team.

As the interview begins, I like to start out by learning what they know about us. That question sounds something like this, “ thanks for taking the time to meet me today, tell me what you know about our roofing company?”

I am always curious to learn what amount of research a candidate has done about us. And also how they researched us. Did they visit our website? Our Facebook page? Have they had any experience with us in the past or do they know someone who has used us to do work? I believe that the amount of time they spend learning about us correlates well to their level of interest in the job.

Recognizing that my first objective is to determine whether this candidate is a good fit, the first group of questions I ask would fit into the ‘tell me about yourself’ category and would include some of these:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • Which schools did you attend?
  • What was your favorite class?
  • Did you play any competitive sports in school?
  • What was the most important thing you learned in competition?
  • What do you like to do for fun? Any hobbies?
  • The next category of questions are designed to learn a little more about their family:
  • How long have you lived in this area?
  • Do you have children? Ages?
  • Where do they attend school?
  • What’s the best part of being a parent?

And finally, after they begin to feel more at ease and there is a reasonable chance that they would be a good fit, I want to pursue the second objective and begin to determine if they have the capability to add to our sales revenue. Some of the following questions may be helpful:

  • Are you currently working now? Tell me why you are considering leaving that job?
  • What kind of experience in sales have you had?
  • Have you worked for commission before?
  • Tell me what the best part of a selling career has been like for you?
  • Tell me what the worst part of a selling career has been like for you?
  • Have you been given sales quotas in the past?
  • How consistent were you at achieving your quotas?

How do you determine which candidates are more motivated?

Since salespeople are often working independently, they must be extremely self-motivated and self-disciplined. Successful salespeople possess and develop several key competencies. It is extremely important to ask questions that shine a light on the degree to which these competencies come out in answers. The four most important competencies we are listening for during an interview include:

  • Action Oriented
  • Ambition
  • Perseverance
  • Competiveness

For example, let’s say you are trying to determine how competitive this candidate is. Rather than ask, “are you a competitive person”, you might say, “tell me about a competitive event you participated in recently”. “How did you prepare?” “How did you do?” “Were you satisfied with your results?”

What qualities stand out in a sales candidate?

During an interview, we are listening for certain key qualities in responses to our questions. The qualities that we are searching for and rate include:

  • Communication Skills
  • Integrity
  • Ability to Listen
  • Problem Solving
  • Ability to Persuade

Do you assess their salesmanship during the interview? (i.e. Sell me this pen...)

I rarely ask the candidate to demonstrate their salesmanship during an interview. But I do believe that the interview has similarities to an actual sales call. This is an opportunity for the candidate to put their best foot forward and convince me that they are the best person for the job. And so I am listening for their ability to persuade and communicate effectively.

Do you send, or offer to send sales team members to continued training to sharpen their skills?

Yes! If it is determined that this candidate would (1) be a good fit in our team and (2) has the capability to add sales revenue to our organization, we like to describe our training program for new salespeople or veterans looking for a refresher called Selling U. At Selling U we concentrate on the selling fundamentals. Some of the topics include:

  • Prospecting Effectively
  • How to Optimize Direct Mail
  • Delivering Effective Sales Presentations
  • Overcoming Objections
  • How To Cultivate Referral Business
  • Making Our Selling Tools Work for You