Interview Questions & Tips for Hiring Sales Hunters

Hiring top salespeople is one of the most important tasks for any sales leader. A great salesperson can drive revenue, help build your brand and grow your business.  Many sales leaders struggle with the task of hiring the right salesperson.  It can be a frustrating process and a bad hire can cost you large amounts of time, money, missed opportunities and morale.

In this episode of Sales B12, Caryn Kopp, Chief Door Opener at Kopp Consulting, and international sales guru, Jack Daly, discuss the best interview questions for hiring sales hunters and share tips to get it right the first time.

Welcome to Sales B12 Season 2!

In this first episode of Sales B12 Season 2, we open with Jack emphasizing the importance of finding candidates who are first and foremost committed to continuous learning. According to Jack, a true sales hunter and great hire is not just someone who has the right skills, but also someone who is always evolving. Therefore, it’s essential to ask interview questions that help identify candidates who are dedicated to ongoing education and development.

He continues by sharing that he starts interviews with questions that probe whether or not the candidate did homework on his company – which is a great way to determine if a candidate has a genuine interest in working for your company and is proactive. He also inquires about the candidate’s reading habits, favorite business books they recently read and their efforts to stay current in the marketplace – which helps measure how proactive and committed a candidate is about ongoing development.

Jack Daly’s recommended interview questions

Jack then dives into his recommended interview questions to identify the right salesperson:

  • Can you explain your selling philosophy? (Discover the candidate’s approach to selling and if it aligns with your company’s sales philosophy.)
  • What do you consider to be an ideal prospect for us? (See if the candidate understands your company’s target market and if they have experience selling to similar prospects.)
  • How do you get through the gatekeeper? (Understand how the candidate approaches getting to the decision-maker.)
  • What obstacles have you pushed through in your life? (Speak to the candidate’s resilience and determination, important qualities in a sales hunter.)
  • How do you differentiate yourself from others you compete with? (Understand their approach to selling and how they stand out in a crowded marketplace.)
  • Why should a prospect choose you over someone else? (Reveals how the candidate communicates the unique value they provide to prospects.)

Caryn enters the discussion by stressing the importance of first identifying the type of hunter needed and then writing a job description that attracts this person aka “the right kind of hunter.” She discusses how hiring the right salesperson can dramatically impact the outcomes for an organization, that the ability to open doors and create opportunities is a true game-changer.

Caryn Kopp’s recommended interview questions

Caryn asks these questions to find the right Door Opener candidates for Kopp Consulting:

  • Can you describe a time when you had to create a territory from scratch? (Understand the candidate’s experience building a new territory and creating new opportunities.)
  • What do you love about sales? (Reveals level of passion about different aspects of sales and interest level in the kind of sales role for which they are interviewing.)
  • How do you get in the door when no one can introduce you to the right person? (Shows how the candidate approaches prospecting and creating new opportunities when leveraging their contacts won’t get them in the doors which need to open such as new markets, new decision maker levels, etc.)
  • What do you do when a prospect isn’t responsive after several attempts? (Reveals a candidate’s level of drive – persistence, creativity, respect and determination – to open doors, nurture and close deals.)
  • What do you do when the prospect’s assistant blocks you from a decision maker? (Tells you how the candidate navigates obstacles, shows respect for those in support roles while forging on and finds creative solutions.)
  • “What do you do when the prospect says, “I’m going to continue working with my current vendor. Thanks anyway?” (Assesses how the sales hunter overcomes objections and pivots to find the path forward despite obstacles.)
  • “When was the last time you worked a prospect list and what is your philosophy of working a list?” (Evaluates the candidate’s prospecting process – sometimes they don’t have one – strategy of the approach, how targets are chosen, how to message in a way that produces results, ability to organize activities efficiently while not losing track of prospects in progress, use of CRM as a tool and most importantly, how recently they have done this kind of work, as what works has changed in the last few years.

More Tips For Hiring Top Salespeople

Jack and Caryn continue, sharing their tips for identifying and hiring top salespeople. They stress that the hiring process is more art than science, and minimizing the risk of hiring the wrong candidate is crucial. It’s no surprise that each emphasizes the importance of identifying the ideal candidate profile before starting the hiring process. Caryn says the right job description attracts the right candidates and repels the wrong ones.

As the episode begins to wind down, Daly emphasizes the importance of establishing and following a process or playbook when interviewing for sales hunters and Kopp offers two pieces of advice for minimizing risk in the hiring process:

  • She suggests as you go through the recruiting, hiring and onboarding process to also use a service like her company’s Door Opener® Service to keep opportunities flowing into the pipeline.This way, when the salespeople start working, there are opportunities for them to nurture and close, no time lost.. This will eliminate some of the peaks and valleys in revenue generation for your company too.
  • She recommends considering hiring multiple sales hunters at the same time to avoid losing months and months of pipeline development if the first candidate hired doesn’t work out.

Daly supports the idea of hiring multiple candidates, saying that there are no expenses in business – only investments. In other words, it’s worth investing in two candidates if both have the potential to pay for themselves in the long run.

Both Daly and Kopp acknowledge that hiring top salespeople is not an easy task, and making mistakes is common. They agree that perpetuating a hiring mistake by keeping the wrong person on for six to 12 months is a very bad idea. Instead, one should hire slowly and fire quickly, if necessary.

As Episode 1 comes to a close, Jack and Caryn acknowledge that hiring top sales hunters requires an artful approach that involves identifying the kind of salesperson you need, creating a job description which will attract the right candidates and asking the right interview questions. Of course knowing the right answers to the interview questions helps assessing candidates for fit. Caryn talks about the onboarding process be a continuation of the recruiting process. If you can identify a wrong fit during the onboarding process you will save time and money.

By taking a comprehensive approach like this to hiring sales hunters, companies can find the right candidates, the first time, and be well on their way to revenue growth!

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