Interviewing sales staff is an excellent opportunity to see how good they are at selling. If they are unable to sell their own abilities, then it's unlikely they'll be able to sell your goods or services to your customers.
When considering the personal qualities that make a good salesperson, you should look for:
- resilience - someone who bounces back from rejection
- urgency - a competitive character who wants to get on with things
- persuasiveness - someone who wants to bring people round to their point of view
- assertiveness - a person who makes their point firmly but not aggressively
- sociability - someone who's friendly and bonds well with others
- enthusiasm - someone who really wants to sell your products
- self-motivation - someone with the initiative, drive and ambition to find and close deals for you
Ask about the candidate's past achievements. How many sales did they make for previous employers? How did they help develop the business? How did they target and win sales from potential customers? To guard against exaggeration, ask for confirmation of their claims.
The image your candidates convey is very important. Would you - and your customers - be comfortable with this person as the public face of your business? Are they appropriately dressed? Do they listen well and speak articulately? Do they ask intelligent questions about your business?
Make sure you abide by anti-discrimination law. See prevent discrimination and value diversity.
Remember that different sales techniques can be appropriate in different businesses. You need to hire a person with the specific sales skills you require. For instance, a rapid-sales technique may be ideal for high-volume cold-calling but not if you're selling a complex and high-value product or service requiring significant account management.