3 Questions 90% of Sales Job Candidates Fail

Sales funnelI have started my career in sales as a talent agent. Selling to college market, which is more brutal than selling enterprise SaaS, gave me an immense appreciation for the job of being the sales rep. I also had the pleasure working with some founders early on, who had the same appreciation for art and science of the sale and invested in training/professional development. I have done Sandler, Challenger, etc. Jeff Hoffman’s (SalesMBA) one is my favorite by far. A lot of reputable SaaS companies, at least in Boston, run their own “flavor” of Jeff’s methodology. Maybe because he teaches how to think and not what to think. It is a lot more empathetic style of selling.
So it is no surprise when it comes to recruiting sales reps, I have developed screening techniques based on what I have learned from Jeff.

Here are the questions I ask and context for why:

1. Why do you feel you would be successful at selling our product? 
I want to learn how well you research and sell. Unfortunately, the vast majority of times I see very generic statements in the answers and lack of any research. If you don’t invest your time in studying our product and our team, you will do same to your prospects, and your close rate will suffer.

2. If you were to prospect, who would you target? Looking for titles, types of companies, verticals, etc.
Fortunately, about half of the candidates answer this question well. What I am looking for is how you balance your approach. It is too easy and unrealistic to say you are selling to the CEO, so naming the right buyer personas just shows me your ramp up time will be shorter.

3. In your last sales role what was your quota, ACV, and quota attainment?
This question may be simple, but it makes over 90% of candidates fail. A successful rep knows their numbers cold. Everyone I had the honor working with could answer this question for every sales job they held. If you don’t care about your metrics, if you don’t obsess about improving yourself, and measuring that improvement, you won’t make it on our team. This question cripples most candidates more than it should. If you state to me, that you always beat your quota, but can’t give me specific on what it was, what was your average ACV, how many deals, what was your demo to close rate, what were your best months, what was your “ramp” to quota, etc. you are missing an opportunity to be your best.This question may be simple, but it makes over 90% of candidates fail. A successful rep knows their numbers cold. Everyone I had the honor working with could answer this question for every sales job they held. If you don’t care about your metrics, if you don’t obsess about improving yourself, and measuring that improvement, you won’t make it on our team. This question cripples most candidates more than it should. If you state to me, that you always beat your quota, but can’t give me specific on what it was, what was your average ACV, how many deals, what was your demo to close rate, what were your best months, what was your “ramp” to quota, etc. you are missing an opportunity to be your best.

Past performance is merely an indicator how well you did on your previous teams with their product. It is not uncommon for a rep with seemingly good resume fail to ramp up in their new job. Investing in your prospect (in this case company you want to work for), understanding what you will sell, and knowing you accurate performance KPIs can dramatically increase the likelihood you will be the top performer in your next sales role.

Image credit: Joe The Goat Farmer

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