Categories: Sales and Distribution
by Bruce Hadley, SoftwareCEO
"If you don't hire great sales people, you won't have a great company," says Barry Shamis, CEO of Selecting Winners. While most will nod in agreement with that mantra, few know how to make smart hires, Shamis says: "Most sales hiring interviews are fatally flawed, because employers don't know what to ask, and they end up asking stupid questions."
"The most common stupid question is, 'How do you sell?'" Shamis says. "It's an open-ended question, which means you lose control of the interview. The answer may or may not be something they'll actually do on the job, and you've opened the door for a textbook answer." If you control the interview, you get the information you need, Shamis explains; if you don't control it, you get the information that the candidate wants to share with you.
"The more data you have about a person, the better decision you're going to make," Shamis says, "and the majority of your data comes from an interview. You need to find out how they're going to do things on your job."
Just how expensive is a mistake? "The cost of a sales hiring mistake is 1.2 to 1.4 times their annual quota," Shamis says. "That's that's your exposure. It takes a software sales rep six months to come up to speed. If you blow them out, because you made a hiring mistake, it takes their replacement six months to get up to speed, and you've lost a year of production."
The fix: Ask predictive questions
Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance, Shamis says, so your interview questions must get to the specifics of the candidate's sales experience. Instead of "How do you sell?" ask "How did you close the ABC deal?"
This month, Shamis is publishing a multimedia book called "How to Hire the Perfect Salesperson." In the CD-based kit, there are 400+ sample questions in 39 categories, along with a video of Shamis doing a drill-down interview with a software sales veteran not an actor. Here are the kinds of questions you should ask, according to Shamis:
#1: How did you research the ABC account before you called on them? "We're trying to establish business acumen: Is he a business person or a peddler? A business person understands their customer before they call to find out if there's compatibility between our solution and their problem. If it's a fishing trip, it isn't business acumen, it's fishing."
#2: How did you learn what their business initiatives were? "The good candidate may have called some other vendors, or may have interviewed someone at the company," Shamis says. "A person who doesn't have business acumen doesn't understand the question."
#3: How did you translate your product into business value for ABC? "This is all about creating the match," Shamis says. "Good reps understand that they're selling value they don't start talking features. They solve problems."
#4: Who was the highest-ranking person you met with at ABC? You want to know whether they're dealing at the technical level or the corporate level, Shamis says.
#5: How did you set expectations for your customer? "The best salespeople in the world set the agenda for their clients," Shamis says. "It could be to set up the competition, or it could be to prepare them to be happy with your solution. The best reps get customers to look for the differences where you shine."
#6: What is the key value proposition for your product? This is a do-or-die test, Shamis says, and most software sales reps fail: Are they selling features and benefits, or are they selling a solution?
#7: How did you adjust your selling style as you moved up the ranks at ABC? "I'm looking for the guy who has a sense of audience," Shamis says. "He understands that if I'm talking to the CIO, I'll talk transaction speed; when I'm talking to the COO, I'll talk about how people are notified four hours earlier, thereby increasing customer satisfaction."
Get the complete kit for $70 off
You'll find 400+ great interview questions in "How to Hire the Perfect Salesperson." which is now available through our Buyers' Club. Not only do you save $70 off the $297 retail price, you get a unique version that Selecting Winners created specifically for software sales.
We've seen Barry Shamis in action he's always the highest-rated presenter at every conference we've attended. We can emphatically guarantee that you'll not be disappointed with this kit, and you will benefit from his advice.
Click here to become a Site Member for $195 per year; you'll save $70 immediately, and more than $7,000 on future software business bargains.