8 Interview Questions to Identify Your Next Sales Superstar

Apoorv Singh · 5 March, 2022

Finding the perfect sales rep is like mining for gold. It's an expensive and time-consuming process — and, worst of all, success is never a guarantee. 

digging

It comes as no surprise then that companies typically spend more on sales hires than hiring for any other vertical. 

But what is it that makes great sales reps such an elusive commodity? 

One main reason is that the best guys are usually happy where they are, because their employers know their value and reward them handsomely. (PS: If you’re looking for ways to keep your top sales reps motivated, check out ElevateHQ for the latest sales commission software that's changing — and simplifying — the incentive game). 

Then comes the next big issue: Budget. Let’s say you find someone you really like. The odds are they are going to be an incredibly expensive hire.

And even among the few good ones who are available and affordable, finding the right fit for you is always tricky. This is because selling is not an easily quantifiable skill, and therefore standard, run-of-the-mill questions don’t work during sales interviews.

Given there are only a handful of good sales reps available in the market at any given time, you want to make sure you’ve got the right framework in place to identify them. This means using a dynamic, adaptable approach during sales interviews where each question evokes the candidate’s inherent personality and mindset. 

While such questions will vary depending on industry and role, below are our top 8 questions that apply to almost any industry. A starter pack, if you will, to get you cracking on your own set of questions to gauge candidates across metrics ranging from competency to culture fit.

Top 8 Sales Interview Questions

1. Talk about the value proposition of your current product. Who does it serve? What are its major advantages and drawbacks?

You gotta start with the basics. It’s a sales job, after all, and you want to see how well the candidate knows their stuff. 

By asking pointed questions about their current offerings and the people who buy it, you get to see how knowledgeable the candidate is about their product and the markets they operate in.

You must also pay attention to how clearly and concisely the candidate explains their product to you. The easier their spiel is to grasp, the more effective they’ll be when it’s your product they’re selling.

2.In keeping with the previous question, is there anything about our current product you would like to change? If yes, how would you go about it?

This one is a must ask! It does a great job of indicating how well the candidate has researched your company before the interview.

 Of course, to expect a genuinely good suggestion from someone who hasn’t even worked at the company yet would be a bit of a stretch. 

But if the candidate hasn’t even bothered to familiarize themselves with your core product and value proposition, how can you count on them to do their due diligence — a key part of the selling process — when dealing with clients?

3.What are your current targets like? How do you go about meeting them?

There’s no better predictor of future performance than past accomplishments.

 Not only does this question give you an insight into how good a salesman the candidate is, but it also allows them to showcase their problem-solving skills. 

Moreover, every sales rep worth his salt has had to pivot at some point to make a sale. This question further allows the candidate to share some key lessons they’ve learnt along their selling journey. 

4. Do you keep up with industry leaders in your target market? How?

When it comes to sales, there’s rarely ever such a thing as a fixed target market. Buyer behaviors and industry trends are constantly evolving, and so should a salesman’s knowledge of the general market they operate in. 

Asking the above question will show how a candidate stays abreast of the latest developments relevant to their industry. It shows whether they subscribe to any trade publications and blogs, go to trade shows, or attend industry events. 

Simply put, it shows you how proactive they are. And consequently, how likely they are to succeed.

5. How do content creation and social media factor into your selling process?

Regardless of its B2B or B2C nature, modern sales uses social media to influence prospects. 

social-selling

Social selling is the norm today.

 To vet a candidate’s sales efficacy, it’s vital that you know how they leverage different social channels to stay connected with clients, reach out to competitors, and convert leads into deals. 

Content creation, too, is an essential part of social selling and helps engage more customers. 

The bottom line: Great salesmen are not just communicative … but creative.

6. Talk about your most memorable sale. What made it so special?

This is a crucial question, for it reflects the candidate’s core values. 

Most will likely talk about their biggest sale, the one where they made the most commission. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course … but selling is so much more than just numbers and paychecks. Selling is about people, about forging deep connections and lasting relationships. 

If your candidate’s answer includes a relatively small sale with a high emotional value, you know you’re dealing with someone genuine.

7. Did you ever turn away a prospect because they were not a good fit for your product?

No matter how good the product, it can't be the right fit for everyone. 

If the candidate boasts about meeting 100 percent of their sales targets, they’re probably not the right fit for you. 

For starters, selling a product to someone who doesn’t need it demonstrates extreme shortsightedness. The sales rep may have clocked a sale by hoodwinking the customer, but the customer will eventually realize their purchase was a total waste of money. 

Not only will that customer never visit again, but it also eliminates the most vital lead source with regards to that customer: word of mouth. 

8. How would you go about maintaining harmony in an overly-competitive sales environment?

While this question might apply more to managerial applicants, it works at the executive level as well.

You are looking for someone who understands how to meet quotas, handle rejections, and stay motivated without bringing the team down.

After all, selling is a ruthlessly competitive and demanding job. You need someone who knows how to keep their spirits high and also diffuse the tension when required. 

Parting Words

These questions were just an appetizer — something to nudge you in the right direction.

We hope you found them relevant, and are now raring to create your own in-depth sales interview questionnaire.

A general rule of thumb to follow when designing your own questions is to ask yourself: Will this question show me who the candidate really is, or who they want me to see?

qualities

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