Hint: Do not focus solely on quota performance
1. Start out by asking your applicant what attracted him/her to the interview.
What is their interest based upon? How high is it? This serves several purposes. First you'll learn about their motives. But you'll also hear and see how he or she handles an open-ended question. Is their response crisp and concise or rambling and incongruent? Does the answer resonate with you?
2. Match your candidate's selling strengths to your specific buying audience.
Do they have a working knowledge of the language your prospects speak? Have they sold to IT/tech buyers or business decision makers? Do those credentials make it easier for him to ramp more quickly? Do we have the training if that credential set is not strong?
3. Do not underestimate the importance of discipline and planning.
Ask each candidate how they plan or how much time they dedicate to planning. My favorite question is “How do you prepare to hit the ground running on Mondays?” I personally believe the answer needs to start with an S – as in “I spend a 30-60 minutes each Saturday or Sunday just to get organized/prioritized”. My overly simplistic formula for the sake of this exercise is Sales is one third communication qualities, one third discipline/planning/work ethic and one third bounce back ability/ emotional rigor.
4. How tapped into your opportunity, company mission, or your personal mission is this candidate?
Have they done the research to know? The candidate that has a WHY to accompany their how will outperform 80% of your new hires. Passion and purpose will see him/her the natural ups and downs of sales cycles.
5. Be careful not to oversell your open position to anyone.
One of my best clients said “there's something wrong if I'm trying too hard to convince her to accept our offer”. Truer words never spoken. Don't try to overthink it or figure it all out. Move on if he/she resists your strong offer and good intentions.
6. QUOTAS are often misleading.
Excuse my skepticism, but as an objective 3rd party I've witnessed so many ill-conceived and or tainted quota assignment issues over the years my perception is colored. Many companies struggle to create these numbers and associated comp plans producing arbitrary results. Don't ignore quota numbers but take them with a grain of salt until you see years and years of consistency. In lieu of the tendency to focus on quota performance remember to use these 5 magical letters PGMAE. Please Give Me An Example…of your sales process/methods, deal size, typical sales cycle, customer profile, wins /losses etc. Again, listen for communication patterns and authenticity. Real world details will allow you to see through and beyond raw numbers.
7. Put your analysis calculator down and use your gut!
Have you genuinely connected with him or her? On what level? Does this meeting feel good? Why? Why not? Use your instincts when all else fails. Analysis paralysis is the main culprit for delays and often the cause of losing out on many an A Player. Sales Stars are always in demand and have a huge impact on the success of hundreds of companies I've been blessed to recruit for. Treat them with TLC and expect reciprocity.