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Sales Management Training: 6 Proven Interview Guidelines for Sales Managers

To hire a top salesperson, there are a number of Sales Management Training do’s and don’ts you should follow when doing live interviews with salespeople. Each of them will assist you greatly in uncovering the core characteristics of each sales candidate so you can make the most informed hiring decision possible.

1. Take Really Good Notes in the Margin

Make note of statements from the interviewee that you may have any kind of questions about. Instead of asking the question right then and there, jot the statement down, let them finish and then at some point afterward (this may even be in the next interview), ask your question regarding that statement.

This is extremely useful in jogging your memory revolving around crucial statements and detailed data that you can use to later challenge and test the mettle of the sale interviewee. The data you’ll jot down now may seem simplistic and not all that relevant to the hiring process but later it will make the difference between making brilliant hiring decisions and brutal hiring decisions.

2. Shut Up!

Its fun to talk about the position that you’re interviewing for. It’s also fun to talk about your “management style” and all of the characteristics that you as the hiring manage look for in “the ideal sales candidate”.

The problem with doing this is that it doesn’t help you hire the right sales candidate. It only hurts you.

An interview by “time of talking” should break down as follows:

Them talking: 90%

You talking: 10%

The point is this; the time you spend in an interview should be spent with you finding out about them, not you telling them about you. You are the interviewer and they are the interviewee. If you keep it that way you’ll uncover a whole lot more about your candidates than you will in an interview with you talking the whole time.

3. NEVER Show Your Hand!

Only at the end of the final interview do you want to start telling them the character attributes you are looking for in “the ideal sales candidate”. As discussed below, don’t ever discuss this up-front. If you touch on it, be brief and don’t show your hand – make sure you keep your cards on what you want to hear close to the vest.

What you want is for them to tell you what they are all about. And then you match their talents and skills to the required talents and skills required to be successful at the job.

4. Use Uncomfortable Silences to Your Advantage

In every interview, there are inevitable silences. Resist the temptation to fill them up, instead use them to your advantage.

When there is an uncomfortably long silence, the candidate will feel it more the longer it goes and want to fill it up with something, anything because it’s so uncomfortable for them. Stay silent, see what they say.

Its in times like these that sales candidates reveal their true self because they have run out of the canned “there really wasn’t much I could do, the economy back in those years was just killing the market for reusable masking tape” or “the market for fishhooks just dried up because everyone was starting to eat chicken”.  What they say next will be unscripted and will give you valuable insight into who they are.

5. Don’t Lead the Witness

When you ask a question and the candidate is obviously struggling, don’t give ‘em the answer! Just like in a good sales call, first ask, and then be as quiet as possible.

Don’t be like a television courtroom attorney and unwittingly “lead the witness”.

For example, if the candidate suddenly loses their train of thought or struggles with the answer to a question you have posed, give them time to answer. Whatever you do, don’t answer for them. The natural human tendency is to “fill in the gaps” and be agreeable and helpful. You can do this all you’d like in the outside world, in interviews however, don’t do it.

Then wait for their answer. The answer will eventually come. If it’s taken fifteen to twenty seconds to answer, you’ll want to write this down in the margin to review it later in the interview process, if they make it that far. If you sense that the problem they’re having is the way you asked the question then simply ask them if they’d like you to restate the question. Then re-state it in simpler terms, but with the same intent.

6. Watch for Hesitation

Do they hesitate when you ask the big question?

When you ask a big question and the candidate hesitates slightly or has to think a lot about an answer, then you may want to take a closer look.

For example, this is usually done when you ask an alternate answer question like: “If we offered you the job and your company gave you a promotion at the same time…which would you choose?”

If the candidate hesitates in the slightest then you know they may have some conflicts. Obviously the answer to the above question would be to pick the first one, but if they stutter or stammer, you may have an issue.

Let’s say you’re interviewing for a direct sales position, but the candidate has done a lot of servicing and selling in their current role, you could ask this question clear out of the blue to quickly gauge the candidate’s gut reaction: “Which part of that job do you really like – the servicing or the selling?” If they hesitate you know they’re not sure and may not be an ideal hire for you.

However, if they immediately answer “sales” with no hesitation whatsoever, you have just uncovered very powerful information to match your sales hire criteria.

This technique works best when it is asked with no real lead-in or indication of what you will ask. You could be on a completely unrelated topic and just pop this question right out of the blue. You want the candidate to be caught off guard a bit, that way you can be assured the answer is a real one.

Use these six proven techniques to interview your next salesperson and you’ll be amazed at the quality of candidates you are then able to hire.

To get even more Sales Management training check out these other posts about sales management.

This post first appeared on Sales Management Training For Sales Management Pro, please read the originial post: here

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Sales Management Training: 6 Proven Interview Guidelines for Sales Managers


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