You may remember I wrote a post a while back about a terrific eBook Tom Searcy had published about RFPs. We've been recommending the book to clients. Last week Tom wrote a post on his blog about interview questions for sales people.
Tom has the right idea here. His questions are on target. So are his comments, such as, "Never hire someone expecting them to sell a deal larger than the largest deal they ever sold every day."
A critical success factor for interviewing sales people is not asking leading questions. Sales "spoofers" (a term I picked up in Ireland describing sales candidates who have taken hundreds of interviews and have packaged answers for every question they would expect to be asked, whether or not the answers are true) will take a leading question and serve up an answer that will delight any interviewer not using a structured, behavioral interview process.
In his post, Tom suggests these two questions, among a number of others:
- "Walk me through the sales cycle and the sales process you followed in your most successful years of selling?"
- "When do you stop working on a prospect in the sales cycle?"
A spoofer would begin their answer to the first question with, "The sales process I use...," whether or not they use a process at all. A slight modification might yield better results. Perhaps, "What contributed to you winning during your most successful years of selling?" The candidate might go off in a direction other than process, but you would then know what they consider important. You might also ask, "Walk me through the approach you followed in your most successful years of selling?" That slight change would leave the onus of bringing up process to the candidate.
If you are interviewing sales candidates and are not reading questions designed to evoke scorable responses that will enable you to determine the candidate's specific skills, traits and behaviors, you're asking to get spoofed.
Photo credit: Licensed from Corbis
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