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5 Hiring Questions that Identify Elite B2B Sales Reps

May 18, 2015 · Jeremy Boudinet · 6 Minute Read

How do you separate the wolves from the lambs in wolf clothing during your sales hiring process? How do you find a future Apex Predator during the hiring process? Recruiting elite new talent remains one of the most daunting challenges for many a sales leader.  Hiring an elite sales rep is tricky business. Sales is one of the few professions where you can be better off hiring someone with zero experience than hiring someone with industry experience.

Why is that? Just because someone is good at selling one product or service doesn't mean they'll be skilled at selling your product or service. The resume can matter less than the person. Here are 5 questions that can help distinguish the right candidates.

5 Interview Questions for B2B Sales Reps

sales hiring

The following are five of my favorite interview questions for a prospective candidate.

How a sales force prospect answers these questions can prove telling about their selling acumen, psychological makeup, and potential to become a dominant force for your sales team.

Question #1. What's a lot of money to you?

A close colleague who works for a major enterprise software company was asked this very question when he was interviewing for an entry-level account executive position fresh out of college. He had what amounted to breadcrumbs in his bank account and answered the question: "I have no money in my bank account. A $20 dollar bill seems like a lot right now."

The interviewer shook his head. "I've never heard an answer like that, but I'm going to give you a pass since I see your point. $1 million dollars is what we're looking for.  Because if a rep makes $250k and is at 500% of his yearly quota in June, then how do you motivate that person for the rest of the year? If $1 million is a lot of money to them, then you don't have to motivate them. They aren't satisfied yet." 

My colleague still got the job. But the point was made: to succeed in sales, you have to be money hungry. Greed, for lack of a better word, is what you're looking for. 

Question #2. Sell me my product.

This is kind of a trick question. A lot of people will get tripped up, because a) they don't have a full grasp of your product, b) their instinct is going to be to take the approach they use at their current/previous position, or c) they're not sure who your target buyer is.

That's okay. Because the ones who do nail the pitch will set themselves apart in a big way. Someone who nails your pitch is going to save you a lot of money in ramp-up time, because they clearly have a higher natural acumen and/or better understanding of how to succeed in the position.

This questions deserves more weight depending on experience. A candidate with more direct sales experience relevant to your product should be expected to nail it or come close. A candidate with minimal experience should not. 

Question #3. Best Performer or Best Team?

Would you rather be the top performer on an middle-tier sales team or a middle-of-the-pack performer on an elite sales team? Rhis question says a lot about desire and how they evaluate their own success. It might be the most insightful of all these questions.

A colleague of mine faced this exact question while interviewing for an entry-level position at an industry leading B2B sales team. The correct answer: You would rather be the #5 rep on a great team. Why is that? Because even though you're in the middle of the pack, you're surrounded by great people who can help you grow and maximize your ability.

What about the guy who says he or she would rather be #1 because he or she would want to bring the rest of the team up to the same level. It's still an average team. And your ceiling for growth is much lower, unless you switch teams. The idea is: You want someone who is going to learn from those around him or her, who wants to be a part of something great, and who is always looking to grow.

Question #4. Explain my ideal customer to me.

This is a great one because it goes deeper than just asking: "Sell me my product." The more your prospect intuitively understands your ideal customer, the better he or she will be able to convey the appropriate value message, ask the right questions, and efficiently qualify and disqualify potential buyers.

B2B sales is half understanding your product and its value-adds, half understanding your prospective buyer and the relevant pain points he or she faces. This is another question that proves sales acumen and is indicative as to likely ramp-up time to full productivity.

Question #5. Car Dealership Pitch. 

A father and son walk onto your car lot. Dad wants to buy his son a car for his 16th birthday. Who do you pitch? This question goes to how well your prospect understands the value of talking with a decision maker.

The correct answer: barring an explicit statement to the contrary, it's the father. It's his credit card that's going to be on the table at the sale's close. More than any other question, this is one that any person who wants to be in sales, veteran or novice, should fundamentally understand. The more a hiring prospect values going directly to a decision maker, the more on-point his or her mentality. 

Hiring a Sales Wolfpack

‚ÄčHiring a team of sales Navy SEALs is something every sales organization strives for. And while you can't put your candidates through the rigors of SEAL screening, you can ask the right, illuminating questions during their interview process. The better a candidate performs on these 5 questions, the better their chances of quickly adding value to your organization and becoming an elite member of your sales team.

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