The New Interview Tactic Sales Managers Need to Use This Year

January 22, 2015

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Andrew Riesenfeld, VP of Field Sales at GuideSpark, and advisor to companies like ToutApp, 500 StartUps and Upshift Partners. Within five minutes of meeting, Andrew and I were trading sales secrets and tips from how to organize your sales organization to how to structure your comp plan. But the biggest take away from our conversation was how to determine whether or not your rep has the intrinsic qualities and skill-sets needed to be successful in a lead generation role.

The New Sales Interview Tactic You Need to Use This Year

By now, every rep, manager, director, and VP should know that unless you are adding value, you should not “follow up” or “touch base” with prospects. The sooner you can instill this in your lead generation team, the better. So why not teach this lesson right away during the interview process? Better yet, why not see if the candidate already has what it takes to get someone’s attention by adding value?

Here’s how:

Step 1

During the interview process, provide each candidate with a relevant company large enough that they will likely be familiar with them (Note: If they are not familiar with the company, you may want to determine whether that’s an indication they aren’t the best fit). Ask the candidate to research the company and craft a compelling email that a) ties back relevant news or findings to your product offering; and b) closes for the appropriate next step.

Want to know what this should look like? Checkout “The Secret Behind the Perfect 15-Second Sales Pitch” by Why You? Why You Now sales expert, Jeff Hoffman.

Step 2

Once they have created the email, invite them into the office and have them present their email as well as how they went about:

  1. Gathering the information
  2. Crafting the email
  3. Determining the appropriate close

Provide feedback, and, if necessary, have them iterate on the final product.

Why this is a Must for Screening New Sales Hires

There are multiple reasons as to why this exercise not only works, but is beneficial to your sales organization. First and foremost, you will gather whether or not your candidate is adept at following instructions, and amenable to research, feedback, and coaching (all of which are essential for a successful lead gen hire!). Furthermore, you are giving the candidate a sneak-peek into what the job entails. If they don’t enjoy the process, then perhaps this is not the role for them.

We all know the interview process for sales reps can be a drawn-out exercise, which tests our ability as hiring managers to essentially ask the same question, multiple times, in different ways. But this exercise breaks up the process, and puts both the hiring manager and the rep in a real-world situation to test how they can work together and think about the prospecting process.

Bonus: Last but not least, another great result of this tactic is that you should now have a new (hopefully well crafted) email to use for your target account!

Sample Questions and Free Sales Hiring Assessment

Download our free sales interview benchmark guide. Inside you’ll find the necessary questions to ask to really dig into a candidate’s experience and assess them on the three key components — Drive, Selling Skills, and Personal Attributes — that ultimately separate the best sales reps from the rest.

Photo by: David Wall


<strong>CeCe Bazar</strong> is an Associate on OpenView's investment team. She was previously a Sales Strategist also at OpenView.