How to identify lazy sales reps at interview

Back to blog 7 Jun 2018

When you’re looking to fill a vacancy within your sales team, one of the most important tools you have at your disposal for finding your next star hire is the interview process. This is where you determine how enthusiastic your potential new recruit is, how much of an impact they’ll have on your business, and whether they’ll be able to help you raise your bottom line.

However, if you don’t invest enough time in your interview process, then you also run the risk of hiring a lazy sales rep. With many businesses hiring the wrong candidate in every two out of five interviews– and costing their businesses billions each year from avoidable mistakes as a result- it’s important that you recognise the warning signs, so that the same doesn’t happen to you.

Here are a few signs that you should look out for during the interview process.

What are they wearing?

It takes an interviewer only a few seconds to decide how they feel about a prospective candidate- and a large part of that first impression is based upon how that candidate is dressed. Take this into account when you meet your interviewee: a job interview is an important opportunity, and one that they should put effort into preparing for. If a sales rep can’t be bothered to show you their best face- and their professionalism- by wearing appropriate clothing, it not only makes a bad impression, but should be ringing alarm bells in terms of how they’re going to behave in front of customers.

A good sales person should take pride in their appearance. Look for clean, polished shoes and a pressed suit if you want to find somebody that you can trust to make good connections and close sales deals.

What do they know about the company?

47% of employers find that having little or no knowledge of the company is the most common mistake that many candidates make during job interviews. Make sure your prospective hire doesn’t fall into the same trap: ask them detailed questions that test their knowledge of the company, of the products that they’ll be selling, and the services that you provide to your customers. As a basic test, you can even ask them easy questions about information that’s easily found on your website.

As a sales rep, this kind of knowledge should be second nature in order to sell your product for a living, so make sure candidates know what they’re talking about and can provide the right information in detail. It’s also a good way of testing how much they’ve prepared for the role, and therefore how much they want it, so make sure you don’t skimp on establishing how much they know if you want to avoid hiring a lazy sales rep.

What do they know about your competitors?

If your prospective sales person wants to succeed in their new role, then they need to have a good idea of the market that they’ll be operating in. After all, 40% of sales people say that identifying and hooking in new prospects is the most difficult part of their job, which requires the most work- it stands to reason, therefore, that they need to know as much as possible about their competition if they want to thrive.

Can your interviewee identify who your competitors are? What do they know about them? The more information they can give you, the more it proves that they’ve done their research- and that they can pick up information quickly enough to adapt to and make sales in a rapidly-changing market.

What questions do they have for you?

People who really want to make an impression on their interviewer will put the time into thinking of thought-provoking questions to ask at the end of the interview. This is a great way of telling you how much effort they’ve put into preparing for the job at hand. After all, being able to ask questions is a vital part of being a successful sales person, especially as 74% of buyers say that they would be more likely to buy a product if a sales person did so.

Look for those same traits in the interview process: if your candidate takes the time to ask interesting, relevant questions, it shows that they’re interested, and it shows that they care about the role. Furthermore, as every sales role is different, it’s almost unforgivable not to have thought of something to ask, even if it’s just clarification on a couple of points in the job description. Though the final stage of the interview can easily be overlooked, make sure you take the time to see if they have questions for you.

Do they have a notebook?

If you’re looking for a way to tell whether a candidate has prepared sufficiently for an interview or if you might just be interviewing a lazy sales rep, a good place to start is by checking whether or not they bring a notebook with them into the office. Not only does it signal that they’re prepared- many people write notes to take with them into the interview itself to refer back to- but it could also signal an increased level of engagement, as they can also ask questions and take notes on what you say.

How well do they know their existing customers?

Although the most common reason for sales people to leave their jobs is bad management, or poor workplace culture, it’s always worth checking just what the ins and outs of their current role is. This includes how well they know their existing customers, which can work very effectively as a touchstone for how they’ll perform should they get the role with you.

Indeed, a lack of knowledge about their customers could be problematic, as it suggests that they don’t talk to, or visit, them enough to have gotten to know them well. As customer relationships are the crux of any sales person’s job, it also suggests that they’re not putting enough effort into their day-to-day responsibilities, which should immediately raise a red flag.

How well do they know their numbers, targets and KPIs?

Meeting your targets and KPIs is a vital part of being a successful sales person. With only 46% of reps of the opinion that their pipeline is accurate, you need to make sure that your candidate has a realistic idea of where they stand in their current roles. That includes knowing how they are performing against their targets. Keeping on top of their work and KPIs is hard, and indicates that they’ve put in a lot of effort to stay on top of their game- and if your interviewee can’t be bothered to give you the figures for their current job, then it indicates they likely won’t put in the effort for you either.

Hire the best with BMS Performance

Our years of expertise in the recruitment market means that we know how to hire candidates that really stand out. Let’s transform your recruitment process and ensure you no longer hire lazy sales reps get in touch with our team of experts, or dive into our sales and marketing insights here.

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