QuinceMedia / Pixabay

During a recent interview with a potential salesperson, they asked how many cold calls they would be expected to make every day. Several thoughts raced through my head at that moment.

Do you actually understand what we do at Intero?
Do you realize that cold calling is one slice of a much larger sales process?
How many cold calls do I make in a given week, month, year? (The answer is none.)
Why is this the first question asked?

That’s a lot of questions in the milliseconds before I answered, “I have no idea since cold calls wouldn’t be how we would initiate a conversation with another person.”

To create the proper context, this salesperson’s experience of sales was cold calling day after day. In the end, they had no sales experience; they only had experience phoning people they had never met or talked to previously. Big difference. I had to recalibrate my thinking.

They were initiating potential opportunities for others to pick up, further qualify, engage, sign and work alongside. In today’s world that’s not unusual. Developing “pipelines” or sales development reps is smart. Breaking down assignments within the sales process is now pretty common within larger organizations.

However, if you are a small organization with a small sales team and are trying to hire a salesperson, there are questions you should ask that may not seem obvious.

A CEO asked me about this just the other day. He said he recently realized that he needed to ask different questions when interviewing sales professionals. He needed to understand their digital skills and literacy.

So, we tossed around some questions and here’s what we landed.

  • Ask them to explain their sales process.
  • In what part of the sales process have they seen the most success?
  • In what part of the sales process do they get the most jazzed about?
  • What are their digital sales skills? Ask them to share the top five apps, Chrome extensions, and websites that help them with their sales process.
  • What digital tools do they use to gather information, monitor and engage? If they say LinkedIn, that’s NOT a sufficient answer. It’s a no-brainer, duh kind of response. The better question is, “Tell me ten ways you use LinkedIn within your sales process.” If they can’t think of ten ways they use LinkedIn, they aren’t using LinkedIn with any level of proficiency. End of the conversation.
  • How do they build their personal/professional brand?
  • How do they network? Stop Networking and Actually Get to Know People
  • What differentiates them as a sales professional (notice, I did not mention the word salesperson.)
  • How do they incorporate marketing strategies and techniques into their sales process?
  • Are they comfortable leading all aspects of the sales process/cycle?
  • Provide examples where said process has been successfully implemented.
  • How will they remain focused on sales and not fall into an account management role?
  • What are the KPIs they think are critical for measuring their performance (You might not agree, remember you’re gathering their insight at this point. Revenue may not be the answer, either.)
  • What do they know about your industry and company?
  • How would they start a conversation today if they had to?
  • If they are coming from a larger company that had a marketing department creating and providing content, inbound marketing, and a full martech stack, how will they manage in a smaller company like yours that may not have that in place? (I’d be looking for ways they will be incorporate what they learned from their previous company on a smaller scale.)

The person I talked with missed that we work with clients who want to incorporate new methods to initiate and engage with a potential customer or candidate. If we started with circa 1979 cold-calling what would that dialing for dollars approach say about our business model and us? By the way, we begin in LinkedIn; however, we encourage email, phone calls, events, etc. as we start to test and see where someone responds.

It’s critical to align your sales process with your business philosophy, mindset, and model. Hmmm…that may call to mind another question or two for you to ask when you interview sales professionals.

Test these questions out on your next round of candidate interviews and by the way; it’s not too late to ask them of your current sales team. It may point out that you have some re-aligning to do.
Let us know if these questions uncover new insight into your sales team or process.