Hire Top Performing Sales Managers (5 Interview Questions To Ask)
When it comes to finding diamonds in the rough, a stellar interview experience makes a great difference to ensure that your talent selection is top of the line. There are certain questions that have become a norm to test prospects and assess their potential- tell me about yourself, where do you see yourself in 5 years, and of course the very famous why would you like to work for our company?
As valid as these age old questions are, it’s always a good idea to stir things up with some refreshing change in your list of go-to interview questions to make the exchange more engaging and informative for both the hiring management and the candidate alike. Keeping this goal in mind, we researched questions that recruiters and hiring executives should be asking when hiring for sales managers and leads. Unique yet insightful, the responses received will play a key role in pushing your sales success to secure your company’s status as a revenue generating powerhouse.
1) What do you think drives sales staff to perform their best?
Skill based questions are great but as an interviewer always keep room for more open personality based questions as well. Organizations are best fueled by talent working for a reason much grander than just a paycheque; your future employees should be able to see the bigger picture in HD. It is these candidates that will exhibit the highest potential of leading high performing teams in future because they already understand that human resources are incentivized in ways that extend beyond their monthly salaries
The key attributes to look for in your winning candidate will be a dedication towards working as “we” versus just “me”. Dedication to satisfied clients, promoting strong team spirit, creating a culture that recognizes achievements, running team based contests, and inspiring a vision to be a part of something extraordinary- these are just a few of the motivating factors that your top candidate should be ideally able to express.
2) Tell me about a time when your data analysis resulted in a boost in sales? Or alternatively: What does data analysis mean to you in your job?
The sales domain is very competitive with targets to hit, forecasts to plan, and pipelines to grow. Excellent reporting skills are essential to be able to present insights regarding market conditions to line managers, and also assist in planning production. In slower economic times, similar decisions have to be made to cut down on procurement or even down size when the business is generating poor financial results- thus, the ability to crunch numbers and enable the company to keep up with industry uncertainty is usually an unspoken part of the job description to satisfy.
From the ability to understand slow moving clients in the sales funnel, trends across different industries and even identifying recurring mistakes, the sales manager should excel at providing actionable insights by using data analysis. It is a valuable strength to possess and should be demonstrated via clear understanding of KPIs such as a client acquisition rates, net promoter score (NPS), sales volume per territory, etc.
Moreover, the data analysis will also help the sales manager in improving leadership quality allowing them to remain in sync with the team and prove immense value as a mentor and coach.
3) Let’s pretend I’m a sales representative that has missed my targets for the quarter. How would you address this poor performance in a one-on-one meeting?
Sometimes, members of your sales team will need to be put in the hot seat as a part of their quarterly or monthly review cycles- and this will be the sales manager’s job. This is why you need to hire someone that has the right attitude and strategy to deal with unpleasant conversations without being harsh, intimidating, or outright unprofessional. Missing quotas can be due to many reasons- does the sales representative have access to the right support? Could their product knowledge use improvement? Maybe lead generation needs to step its game up?
The ideal sales manager should be able to derive a positive result from a negative situation using a blend of motivation, constructive criticism, investigation and plausible solution to ensure that performance wrongs can be changed to rights. Being able to see the silver lining in a tough conversation, great leadership proves its worth by identifying areas of improvement and implementing recovery plans without losing their cool.
4) What do you think it takes to be a good team leader?
Not everyone is born a leader, some professionals work hard to develop their skill sets to polish their brilliant leadership qualities. Leadership by example can be the difference between average and outstanding sales performance. So what are some traits that equip some prospects to lead better than others?
Self discipline, focus on accountability, proficiency with coaching, transparency and a proactive effort to inspire greatness- these are just a few of the traits that can help junior sales professionals to not get burnt out or demotivated in this domain (that already has a reputation for high turnover rates).
The days of using the carrot-and-the-stick approach to get sales deals up and running are long gone. Make sure that your future sales manager is keeping up with the times using a leadership approach that builds sincere relationships, encourages sustainable revenue growth, makes the work environment fun, and accommodates their team’s requirements with an open mind.
5) What’s the last thing you learned that was really interesting?
You’ve explored your candidate’s technical skills, and given them a fair shot at highlighting their managerial strengths as well. Change the flow of the interview a bit with a question that tests your prospect’s ability to think fast on their feet, yet stay confident under pressure. With sales strategies and technologies always evolving, a dedication to continuous learning is a highly desirable trait that the best sales managers should possess.
Candidates with a knack for curiosity and always being on the look up for opportunities to advance their skill set are definite superstars with learning emerging as the most reliable predictor of the talent’s success. Being able to learn, innovate, and transfer those findings on to junior team members helps cultivate an entire department of intelligent workers looking to find better solutions for existing problems and client’s pain points. If your interviewee struggles to share a recent learning experience, they are unfortunately not a perfect fit for the role.
There’s a ton more ingredients that goes into the recipe for sales success than just a persuasive personality, charm, and good product knowledge. Selecting an exemplary leader for your sales team is a decision that should be made after a well balanced interview that covers their job specific skills, personality attributes, and team mentorship abilities. Do the extra homework to customize your interview questions to truly reflect your business priorities- the improved financial performance your effort will deliver is well worth the effort.
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