What does the ideal sales rep look like these days? When hiring a sales rep a manager has to think about a lot of different things to see if they should hire them. I haven't interviewed for a job in about 3 years but from what I remember it seems like the questions the sales manager asks the potential rep needs to change. I think these things have changed...or at least should change and so should the way people think about what makes a GREAT sales person.
- Will they hit their quota?
- What tells me from their past experience that they would be able to do this job well?
- Are they motivated by money?
- Why do you like sales?
- What makes a good sales person? etc. etc. etc.
I remember the types of questions I was asked when I was interviewing for sales jobs. They were similar to the above questions. Even when you Google typical sales questions in an interview for sales you get the types of questions that I honestly don't think are good measures of figuring out if someone will be good for the role.The longer I work at HubSpot and the longer I go through a full sales process with a prospect the more I learn about what makes a great sales person.
Here are the questions I think a GREAT sales manager should think about when hiring a GREAT sales rep:
1. Is the potential sales rep personable and human?
If I was hiring a sales rep or was asked to work with a person in my day to day role the first thing I want to know about someone is whether or not they can be "real." What I mean by real is if they are actually human when I talk with them or when they get on the phone and start prospecting. You should ask them to fake a call for you. This process of a role play is supposed to expose whether or not they have the chops and smartness to do the job. I think we should be listening to how human they are, not how good they are at convincing someone to do something. Are they able to be human and think on their feet? Meaning if your rep calls a lead and has no clue how to think on their feet and actually take what their prospect says, think about it and then make an intelligent statement they are probably not someone who can think like a real human. Being real, and human is super important to be seen as someone a buyer would want to speak with. Buyers don't want to interact with a sales person who is just going through the motions to hit some number.
2. Is the sales person someone who can listen and then think intelligently about what was said?
A lot of sales reps can listen to what is being said on the other end of the phone but then get nervous because they don't know what to say next. A skill that might be lacking if this is the case is critical thinking. If a prospect says something and the sales rep needs a script to know what to say, you might have a problem. That person might not be able to think on their feet and therefore, might not be able to think about what a prospect says and give their own opinion from that statement. Sales reps need to have opinions but be able to think intelligently about what is being said to them in the sales process. If they don't have the ability to do that they might not be able to offer the end customer ideas on what might help them achieve their goals.
3. Does the sales person actually know what your product or service does? Do they also know what what makes a great customer.
The sales person needs to fully understand what a GREAT customer means. Why someone buys something is not necessarily a good indicator of this. You can look at reasons why someone bought something or signed up for something but whether or not they are going to be a good customer is completely different. I think a good interview question would be: tell me why this product or service is a good fit for a company and why? Why do you think that and please explain to me what you mean. If the sales person cannot ascertain why something is a good fit for someone outside of just wanting the potential buyer to buy it to hit their quota- you have some bad signs here.
4. Does the sales person naturally and truly care about people other than theirselves?
Does the person you are interviewing actually have a heart. What does the person care about? All sales people for the most part like money, no love money. Why wouldn't you like money? On the other spectrum, not all sales people care about people. If a sales person doesn't have a heart or care about something other than their selves or making money because sales is a great way to do that - I would get rid of them fast. One resonating thing I see with successful and GREAT sales reps is people who care about other people, not just what is in it for them. They are people who are not JUST focused on quota but rather focused on helping people because they actually, truly care about their prospects. Reps who care about what they are doing and actually think their service or product can help. They are people who understand why they are doing what they are doing for their potential buyer. They are in it first for the buyer and next for theirselves.
5. Is your sales rep continuously trying to help?
A great sales rep is someone who is consistently trying to help the prospect or just people in general. People who naturally feel like helping others are likely going to be a good sales rep. I would ask about what they care about and what they do to help other people around them. People who naturally feel like they should help others are more likely to want to go the distance with their prospects. Someone who cares, and someone who wants to help people is always going to naturally want to do the right thing for the prospect. That will also ultimately make for a hopefully GREAT customer.
6. Were they liked by co-workers at past companies they worked at?
This is pretty important. I think this is a precursor to someone being a good sales rep at a potential organization. If someone was not liked at a past job it is probably because they did bad things that were not nice to other sales reps or to other people at the company. If they are not easily likable by other people at the company then you probably have a bad egg on your hands. Sales people should not be disliked. I know alot of people outside of sales usually dislike certain sales reps. It is because they are not nice, because they do the wrong things in the sales process, sign up bad customers, etc... Ask about their past companies and their relationships with finance, with services, with their CEO etc. This would open up some ideas as to whether they will fit into your sales org as well as just the overall organization.
7. If you asked the potential sales rep what their sales process would be if they worked for your company, what would they say it should be.
I sometimes think about sales in general. If I sold something besides marketing software, would I be good at it? Would it be that different than how I sell HubSpot. I don't think so. I think sales comes down to being a good explorer and a good investigator. Everything else from there should be easy. What is not easy is being able to ask the right questions and fully understand a prospect's problems. The only way you can expose whether or not a company should buy what you sell is if you fully understand their problems and their current state compared to their desired state. You are more like an investigator at the beginning of the sales process vs. a sales person pushing something that your prospect should buy. Explore whether or not the sales person has the potential to think about how to sell anything not just in selling the product or service that they are interviewing for. It comes down to need and whether or not you can help them, and if the customer if open to it. Not that you think they need it becaues you want to make some money. The only way to expose that is through good questions and good listening.
8. Does the sales rep care about what happens when the prospect actually becomes a customer?
The best sales reps are those people who actually understand what happens after they sign someone up. Does your sales rep understand FULLY what happens after someone signs up for your service or product? It is not just about signing on the dotted line. If the sales rep just cares about what happens while they are talking to the prospect they probably won't sign up great customers. I would ask them what would happen in their last company after they signed up a customer? Maybe even talk to Account Managers from the last company they worked at to see what they thought about the customers that sales rep brought on. This would expose a lot of insight into how this sales rep sells.
9. If a prospect decided not to buy from you for some reason what would this sales rep do?
A great way to learn from your sales process is to learn from when and why a deal does not close. When someone tells me that they aren't going with my company I actually get sad. I get confused. I question myself and what I have done in the sales process. That starts with the connect, then goes to the discovery call or exploratory call. That call or session is the most important because it is probably where I screwed up if anywhere. If I didn't get the right information from the prospect so I could expose how or why we could help them then I probably lost the deal somewhere right after that. Right after someone tells me they are deciding to not go with me, I look to myself first. If the sales rep thinks that the prospect is stupid for not going with their company and gets angry then they are not a GREAT sales rep. You need to be someone who will look at yourself and your sales process before looking at that potential buyer that they did something wrong. You most likely didn't understand their needs fully and were not able to explain intelligently what your solution could do to solve their problems.
10. Do they want to collaborate and do they want to learn?
I have seen sales reps leave my company and also get fired. I think the thing that stands true for most of these people is that they didn't want to learn. They were reluctant to trying new things. They were reluctant to change. Sales people need to enjoy change and enjoy collaboration. They need to want to try new things and see what works. They should be people that think innovatively and don't just take things for the way they are. If you have a sales rep who just does things the same way every day I don't think that is a good sign. A GREAT sales rep is someone who wants to learn from other people around them and also wants to teach other reps around them what works for them. Being an open person and being someone who is coachable who wants to learn is important.