Now we get to the good stuff!
Who wants to get drunk like a college frat boy on a beer funnel?
Not to get your hopes up but this sales management training lesson isn’t actually about a beer funnel…
It is all about an interview funnel and its THE essential step in asking the right interview questions when interviewing a salesperson.
In our continuing sales management training series on how to interview a salesperson, we get into interview questions for salespeople.
Today we discuss sales management training step four.
4. “The Funnel”
As you may know, a funnel is a large conical structure that is wide at the top and extremely narrow at the bottom. A large volume of liquid is poured into the top of the funnel, the liquid compresses and swirls around the tapered edges, while gravity pulls the substance inexorably towards the narrow hole at the bottom, finally releasing its contents in an unbroken band, streaming out the bottom opening in a tightly concentrated, viscous thread.
When you interview sales candidates, think of your interviewing style as a large funnel, but the liquid is the line of questioning you use to uncover the true nature of the candidate. In our funnel analogy, start them off with some large, wide, broad sweeping questions, lulling them into a comfortable rhythm, making them comfortable and at ease.
As the interview progresses, over time, you ask for more and more specifics, narrowing your focus and field of questioning to exact instances and examples until you get a steady strand of tightly worded and specific questions that will ultimately reveal a wormhole into the soul of your candidate.
I’m being a bit melodramatic, but the idea is really simple:
Start with big broad questions, then using a step-wise approach; ask more and more specific questions, drilling down to get the “answer behind the answer”.
It’s really just that simple to explain. It’s harder to actually do, but Ill show you how in the next sections.
Get drunk off of “The Funnel”
A favorite college pastime is doing “the funnel”, this along with “the kegstand” are two of the more intellectually challenging, yet extremely effective ways in which to consume massive amounts of alcohol in a notably short period of time. By pouring cans of beer inside a plastic funnel, the imbiber of said malted beverage can quickly consume two or three beers inside of ten to fifteen seconds, when under normal circumstances those same beers would be consumed over a longer duration of time.
So if you want to get really loaded, really fast…try either one and you’ll immediately know what I mean, (Ill explaining the full benefits of the kegstand in later lessons).
Like the college beer funnel, the interview funnel does in essence the same thing. You get a ton of incredibly important information in a very short period of time, loading you up with vital information that you can immediately use to assess the candidates viability for the job at hand. This technique is especially effective if you vigilantly keep them on track as we’ll instruct you to do, even interrupting their rambling if necessary.
Make sure you remember to phrase your questions from very broad to very specific. The funnel is a questioning technique you need to use at almost every stage of the interview with the exception of the first pass on The Resume Walk. The Resume Walk is where you get your late lines of questioning, by taking notes and jotting down broad statements that you can then question all the way through the funnel until you reveal a narrow stream of character traits that you can then match to the pre-requisites of the position.
So after the candidate has done the resume walk, you are probably now into the half hour mark in the interview. If you’ve done a good job at keeping the candidate on track, as well as shelving most of your questions by writing them in the margin now is the time to refer back to some of these notes.
Keep your “Fabulous Five” as well as your hiring criteria in mind; begin asking particulars on some of the initial comments. A good tip is to use their exact words stated back to them. Although they may not say it, the candidate will be impressed with your attention to detail on this. Likewise, this tells them immediately that you’re on the ball and it may be difficult to pull the wool over your eyes. This small detail heightens the intensity of the whole interchange.
For example, let’s say that the interviewee divulged that when describing one of their previous jobs he said he “really liked” selling that product. An example of a funnel question would be as follows:
“When you were at Moshi’s Oriental Rugs in 2007, you said that you ‘really liked selling oriental rugs’ that year, tell me more about that”
When he tells you more, you can then ask even more specific questions around his aptitude at selling rugs in that year. You may ask him:
“Tell me about a really huge rug sale that year that you were particularly proud of”
Then ask him even more specifics, using names if possible:
“What sales strategy did you take with Mr. Magdi to make the sale?”
You’ll then want to go even further:
“Tell me about that sale to Mr. Magdi and how exactly you did it.”
Maybe then layer another related question on top of that by asking:
“Out of all the parts of a sales call, which part is most important?”
“What makes you so good at selling?”
You could follow that up with a more introspective question such as:
“How does being successful selling rugs make you feel?”
This is an extreme example of “funnel” interviewing.
Do you see how one single point from the initial interview “Resume Walk” led to six or seven follow up questions?
This is purposeful, because the more detail you can get on a single event, tells you not only that it is not “made up” (I cannot imagine!), but it also tells you the specifics you need to assess if the candidate is a good fit for your sale.
This is classic “Resume Walk” funneling:
- Focus on one broad statement made in the “resume walk” phase of the interview
- Pick that vague comment apart until you have a very specific instance of the candidate selling in action
- Ask them to comment on their own skills in an introspective manner.
And that’s how you funnel.
In our next sales management training step, ee reach you how to “Get to the Why’s” behind your sales interviewees b.s answers.
You gotta cut through the bull and get to the meat.
We teach you how next time.