Well its been a little while since we continued our series on How To Interview a Salesperson, but this sales management training post is worth the wait!
As outlined in our last sales management training posts, although there are many excellent methods on how to interview a salesperson, in my experience, there are 6 sales management training steps you must follow when interviewing a salesperson.
After conducting hundreds of sales interviews and hiring hundreds of salespeople, these sales management trainng methods have worked wonders for me. So I am more than happy to share them with you here so you can achieve your own high level of sales management successs.
Today we discuss sales management training step three.
3. “The Resume Walk” (First Interview Only)
The goal of the first interview is to do one and only one thing:
Determine if you want them to come back for the next interview!
That is your only goal in interview number one.
The way you do this is get them talking a lot and the best way to do this is get them to take a trip down memory lane…talking about themselves.
So using “The Funnel” interview style as your sales management training guide, it is best to get to the core of who they are by prompting them to first take you through the most basic of interview questioning, namely “The Resume Walk”.
People love talking about themselves – and salespeople are typically a pretty chatty bunch. So in the interest of both “making em comfy” and getting the vital data you need to make an excellent hiring decision, make them extremely comfortable by getting them talking up their (and everyone’s) favorite subject: themselves!
When you actually start the interview questioning, the first question you’ll need to ask the candidate should be use “The Funnel” exactly; start wide and broad and end narrow and specific.
However, you don’t want to have them blindly start telling you “about themselves” – set some ground rules for what you want them to tell you, while using “The Funnel” at the same time.
When you first ask them to talk you through their resume by taking “The Resume Walk”; your question should begin something like this:
“Take me through your resume from college to present, moving from job to job – however, what I am particularly interested in is
Why the “why you made the decisions you made in your career” part?
It’s simple. You’re getting two things here. You get to see them talking (all salespeople need to do this) – where you can measure articulation, persuasiveness and logical flow of information. But even more importantly, you’ll witness them articulating their desires.
Since actions reveal a whole lot more about a person than just what they say, the “job change” part of the story will tell you within the context of their career, what they truly desire.
Let me explain.
You’ve heard the expression: “show me don’t tell me”? Well, truer words were never spoken when it comes to interviewing. There will be loads of bull flying around during your interview, but the no bull is when they show you and reveal to you what they actually did.
Getting them to tell you about why they made those decisions cuts to the core of their character.
Here’s why. Big decisions require lots and lots of thought and this kind of introspective thought can only come one place: deep inside.
If you really want to uncover what they are all about deep inside, and not just on a surface level, then ask them about the big, heavy decisions they made. Then further drill it down to an even more granular level by asking them why they made those decisions…this always bubbles up to the surface the reason behind their answer.
Take notes here. Their answers to these “big decision” questions will give you plenty of fodder for follow-up questions (as long as you write it in your resume margins) for the second interview…
Let’s take a step back.
If you think about the biggest decisions you’ve made in your life – what would they be? You could maybe list a few (this is not all inclusive):
1. What college you went to
2. Who you married
3. What house you bought
4. What jobs you took
These are all big, life-altering decisions, and isn’t each and every one of them just loaded with stories of exactly who you really are?
How you chose your spouse is so intertwined with what it is that you were looking for in a partner in life that it speaks volumes about who you are, what you are and maybe even where you’re deficient (don’t worry I won’t ask him or her). If somebody asked you why you married the person you are now married to, wouldn’t that answer be a “mini-narrative” on who you are as a person?
It’s the same thing when understanding salespeople’s career choices.
The biggest decisions they made in their career can also be asked with even more revealing, soul-baring questions attached like this:
1. What career path they chose:
“Why are you in sales?”
2. Why and how did they choose the company they chose to pursue that career path:
“Of all the fabulous metal detector companies to work for, what was it about Metallica Metal Detectors, Inc. that made you want to work for them?”
Layer even more questions on top; probe deep into those decisions they made for both 1 and 2 above. You’ll uncover the candidate’s true nature the more follow up questions you ask.
While the candidate is going through the resume walk, remember to take notes in the margin on anything in particular that stands out.
Remember that you’re looking for any broad generalizations, any “throw away” side comments that may be interesting; just take lots of notes. Like we said before, just jot them down on the resume – and circle them so that you can refer to them later.
Don’t forget to notate broad general statements they make like “I really knew that sales was the job for me” and “I did really well that year” or “I learned the products pretty well”. Make note of these broad statements, you’ll be using them later as you swirl them around the middle of “The Funnel”, when used to formulate follow up questions.
Then once you have completed this step, you are ready to really evaluate their answers more in depth. By getting drunk off the Funnel!
In our next sales management training article, we will discuss that further. Stay tuned.
What do you think? Is there a better way to interview a sales rep? Post your comment below and let me know what YOU thnk.