Interviewing Sales Candidates? Try This Unique Approach
By Reneé Watkins
Candidate interviews for manufacturing, technical, financial or managerial positions are usually about education, job history, training and experience. Sales candidates, however, are potentially going to be responsible for making a first impression for your organization and will be charged with selling your product or services from a position of authority and confidence.
So, when interviewing candidates for a sales role, how can you best determine if they are capable of representing your organization in the best way? Experience and work history certainly count for something, but the product or service at their prior job may be entirely different from yours.
An interesting method for determining whether a sales candidate can be successful during an interview is to have the candidate prepare an actual sales presentation on the product they are trying to sell that day – themselves!
Planning and research is essential to any successful sales presentation. The candidate will need to research your organization in order to determine how they can best represent the product or services offered by the company, as well as the mission and values the company promotes. In the presentation, the candidate will need to relate their skills and experience to your organization to further demonstrate how they can fill a need within your current sales team.
Clients are seeking to know how and when they can expect a return on their investment when purchasing a product or service. The candidate should be able to attach real numbers to what they feel they can bring to the position and show what you can expect from their efforts in exchange for your investment in their compensation and training.
An interview, after all, is a sales meeting. The candidate is selling themselves to the people in the room who will make a decision on whether or not to “buy” what they see before them. As an interviewer, challenge the candidate with a series of questions regarding their “product” to get a feel for how they will think on their feet in front of your clients.
Clearly, the candidate needs to be aware of the format prior to the interview so they have time to prepare. Effective sales calls always require preparation. This way, you can also evaluate how much preparation they put into the process based on how well they present their facts and their understanding of your company.
Next time you are bringing in a candidate to interview for a sales position, try this format. It will give you a tremendous amount of information as to how the candidate is going to perform, and will build confidence in the candidate as they prepare for the interview process.