Three Questions for Hiring Your Next Sales Leader

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Three Questions for Hiring Your Next Sales Leader


Fifty-two percent of small to mid-size businesses fire their sales leader within 18 months of hire (according to SBI). This statistic is troubling. It is especially troubling because it should be easy to hire a high-performing sales leader – if you know the right questions to ask! Three easy questions enable you to quickly assess a candidate’s sales-leadership aptitude.

Exceeding sales target every quarter is an absolute necessity for U.S. public corporations.

If the sales target is not met, the stock price tumbles, the CEO’s job is not secure, and the sales leader is likely fired. Necessity is the mother of invention here. Therefore, large publicly traded companies (Fortune 500) require all sales leaders to learn specific processes that virtually guarantee sales success. On the flipside, very few sales leaders in small to mid-size businesses have ever faced this strict performance requirement. Through no fault of their own, they have never been required to develop the skills of their sales peers in the Fortune 500.

The three critical questions to determine sales leadership success are below. If your candidate cannot easily answer all three of these questions – find one who can!

Question #1:  Will you diagram your current organization’s sales process for me?  A “sales process” is a 5-7 step progression that all sales leaders should be skilled at building. It is the pre-determined roadmap everyone in the organization should use to close sales. The sales process should be loaded into an electronic Customer Relations Management (CRM) system allowing the CEO, within five minutes of opening his or her laptop, to understand every deal in your pipeline, and the schedule of every sales rep in your organization.

Question #2:  What does your current Sales Team’s compensation plan entail? Please explain how it drives the specific behaviors you want from your people.  A sales compensation plan is a sales leader’s single biggest driver of human behavior. The plan must be designed to drive those specific behaviors that will bring your unique company the sales you need. Compensation plans can be tricky. Make sure your candidate knows how to design an effective one.

Question #3: What are the top three skills and abilities you look for when hiring a top caliber salesperson?  This answer should fly off the sales leader’s tongue easily.  As an example, I look for: (1) a proven, sustained track record of success, (2) a burning desire to excel, and (3) the ability to initiate, grow, and leverage personal relationships for business.

Write these questions down, bookmark this blog in your browser, or commit it to memory – but at a minimum please ensure you ask these three questions when interviewing your next candidate for sales leadership. More importantly – ensure your chosen candidate can answer all three questions easily, succinctly, and successfully. I’m confident you will be glad you did.


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