Interviewing Sales People

I always find it interesting to interview sales people. They come in all different shapes and sizes and from all different types of backgrounds. There are sharp qualified candidates and then there is, well you know, the other kind. Turnover is always high in sales. Regardless of industry, market or season, sales people are not as easy to keep on board as a nine to fiver’s or “pikers”. I think allot of this deals with motivation. Sales people are paid differently than the average employee and the compensation is almost always performance based.

There are four motivators (“The Four F’s”) and we all fall into at least one of these categories.They are Fame, Family, Freedom & Fortune. I think a big part of the interview deals with identifying the individuals motivating factor and using it to identify wether or not the candidate is a match for the position. People motivated by FAME are “needy” they need public recogition and praise. They will work for peanuts as long as they feel like the center of attention or needed. This is the case with volunteerism. People that are motivated by FAMILY tend to be more emotional and problematic employees. They almost always have some sort of dependant that is sick or needy themselves. They put that individuals needs before the job and the company suffers. People motivated by FREEDOM are dreamers. They get up and work each day on the premise that one day they will be completely free from responsibility. This is probably the most desirable type of candidate in my opinion. Lastly, there are those of us motivated by fortune. This type of individuals sole purpose for living is to make money. That’s not bad at all because they tend to be aggressive “go-getter’s” and have very resilient attitudes. But they are usually the first to quit when t”the next best thing” comes along. I think that a good sales person has a bit of all these characteristics but is dominant in only one. Identifying this is key, sometimes I just ask them.

The other key to a successful interview is using a pre-planned list of behavioral questions. Don’t try to sell your applicants the job. Let the applicant sell you themselves. Do this by asking well written thought provoking questions that will give you a good picture of the applicants past behaviors in a specific set of circumstances. This will make it easier for you to predict the type of behavior that you will be dealing with should you choose to hire them.

To your success,


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