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Effective sales managers are rare creatures. They need to combines the skills and drive of raw salespeople with the managerial perspective of someone totally removed from the madness of day-to-day sales. If you find a few you like, you may feel the overwhelming excitement to just hurry up and hire one.
The interview should provide a nice speed bump in your hiring excitement. Take a moment and a breath.  Amongst your usual questions, include these 5 interview questions to ask sales managers.

1. Should reps get warm leads or build their own pipelines? – Matt Heinz

The correct answer is yes, reps should get warm leads, but this is not because they’re lazy or can’t successfully build their own business from the ground up. Lead-driven sales are typically more cost effective than having expensive sales reps make cold calls. Yes, leads are expensive up-front, but the eventual cost per acquisition and overall lifetime value and margin for the business on those new customers is usually much better when reps are making more efficient use of their time with warm leads.

2. Give us a specific example when you played an important role in correcting a faltering sales team.

Ask for details. What went wrong? Why weren’t salespeople performing? The problems could be:

  • institutional
  • in the industry
  • pre-existing before the candidate found it
  • completely the candidate’s fault

Then, the candidate should be able to provide more details about what he or she did to fix these specific problems.

3. Tell me about some of your favorite methods for prospecting, and how those work for you? – Matt Cook

Phrasing sales interview questions in this way prompts the candidate not just to discuss the mundane ways in which he or she prospects (e.g., “I usually set aside an hour each morning…”) but to explain why those methods work. A candidate who can answer sales interview questions like this cogently has given thought to the sales process, and is not just running through the motions. Furthermore, the self-reflection and awareness required to piece together why some prospecting methods work better than others may indicate that the candidate is more receptive to change and coaching.

4. Why are you better than everyone else we’re interviewing?

Put the candidate on the spot. You don’t want “yes” or “no” responses from someone who will be responsible for managing and leading your sales team. Sales are always shape-shifting and unique. Your next sales manager should reflect those traits (in a good way).

If they can’t quickly describe why they’re best, how will that translate in front of a sales team?

5. What motivates you? – Ken Sundheim

The answer to this question can be as unique as the candidate. Maybe it’s money. Maybe they’re foregoing some earning ability, which they could earn as a straight salesperson, for some stability. Look for some personality in the answer and the drive that will lead to this new sales manager’s over or under performance.

Prove us wrong

Will these questions help you hire your next sales manager or do you have something better? Tell us with a comment below or on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn. Your suggestion could help thousands of people just like you improve their hiring.

  • Ursula Fitch

    Very helpful and great questions.Thank you.
    Ursula

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