Questions to Ask to Get the Best Salesperson

April 7, 2016

Our aim is to empower our team, and our customers to have more productive conversations with their most sought-after prospects. Hiring the right people is difficult and the dangers of a bad hire can be costly to your organization’s finances, reputation and culture. Dave Thomson recorded a great video about how to improve your hiring process, but this is about analyzing how candidates respond to your questions, not the kinds of questions to ask.

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In my opinion, the best salesperson is one that asks great questions.

In my experience, this requires a high sense of self awareness and authentic professional curiosity. A successful salesperson asks great questions and listens with intent toward. They work to identify and truly understand the issue(s); the impact of those issues to the prospect’s organization (in measurable terms); and the importance of solving that issue for the prospect now versus later.

To hire for these skills, we use two measures in the interview stage, an Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Conversational Capacity test.

We frame the first set of Conversational Capacity interview questions that highlight. Determining if they can…

  • Treat their views and opinions like hypotheses that should be tested.
  • Demonstrate how they lean into conflicting ideas to facilitate deeper learning to make more informed choices.
  • Describe a time when they were skeptical of their own thinking and more curious about the thinking of others.

The next set of questions around recent examples cover a recent time when they…

  • Advocated their position clearly and succinctly.
  • Illustrated their position by sharing the thinking behind it (their data and interpretations).
  • Encouraged others to share views that contrasted with theirs.
  • Inquired the view of others to actively explore their thinking – especially when their views differ from their own.

The last set of questions request that they describe and provide an example of a recent time when they made each of the three types of decisions:

  1. Crisis decision (rare in most organizations, but important to address).
  2. Census decision (most common with mid-mangers).
  3. Informed decision (most common with leaders).

We want to find new business professionals who are more interested in helping others make informed decisions than being right or being comfortable.

They have a more disciplined approach to communicating with others. They work hard to balance their “push” and their “pull” by candidly putting forward their own views, and by working just as hard (and sometimes harder) to help others put forward their views – especially when there is disagreement or conflict.

We find that group-based purchasing decisions are more the norm today in our business, so employing an ABSD (Account-based Sales Development) methodology requires a high conversational capacity. We look for leaders, who is also the best salesperson for the job.

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If you liked this blog post, check out:

  1. How B2B Sales Can Adapt in an Economic Downturn
  2. 8 Sales Triggers Guaranteed to Convert More Leads
  3. Top 3 Tips for Identifying Key Decision Makers

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