Measure Sales Success During the Interview, Not After

Timeless reprint from 2008 and 2010

Contact me for a complimentary analysis of your sales team!

Selecting sales candidates who can actually sell is a huge challenge for any employer.  Even if they sold the same or similar products or services for your competitor, it doesn’t mean they can adequately sell for you.

Many times future employers are “sold” or mis-led about an applicant’s sales abilities when:

  • They have very good verbal skills (does not mean they have the personality and/or interests to deliver the results);
  • They appear to be good team players (many good sales people are not); or
  • They are able to sell themselves (does not mean they can sell your products or services).

The following interview metrics do not eliminate the need to use valid and objective assessments that actually (and legally) measure your candidates’ true sales capabilities (think, learning style, core behaviors and occupational interests). These questions simply provide you additional information to ensure you’re getting a true sales person, and not a “marketing-type person” who relies upon others to sell and close the deal.  Your sales people create your company’s reputation, now and in the future.

  • What was your candidate’s quota for his last employer(s) – did s/he hit it?
  • What was the average size deal?  (Dollars and re-sales)
  • Did s/he make President’s club or receive other industry recognized “acknowledgement.”
  • Does s/he have inside vs. outside sales experience?   Which did they prefer?  Why?
  • What were the number of cold calls, conversations, presentations, etc that s/he made daily and weekly?
  • What was his or her close ratio? (How many presentations vs. number of actual sales?)
  • Where did his or her leads come from – were they generated by the person or were they given to them by others in the company?
  • What were his or her day-to-day activities, including time at the desk and time in front of the potential customer?  Or, in front of current customers, up-selling or cross-selling?
  • What formal sales training has s/he had?
  • What tracking system did they use to keep stats on lead generation, lead conversion, and repeat business?
  • Do they plan their work and work their plan, effectively?   How do they know?
  • If they were to describe a sales person, what words would they use?  (Remember, you’re looking for the positive attributes, not the age old “snake oil” descriptors.)
  • If they were to use one word to describe his/her customer’s experience of working with him/her, what would that word be?

© Jeannette L. Seibly and John W. Howard, 2008-2011

Jeannette Seibly, Principal of SeibCo, is a nationally recognized coach, who has helped 1000’s of people achieve unprecedented results.  She has created three millionaires.  You can contact her: OR  Jeannette is also the author of “Hiring Amazing Employees” (  and “It’s Time to Brag!” (TimeToBrag.comContact me for a complimentary analysis of your sales team!

John W. Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers. He may be reached at 435.654-5342, OR

About Jeannette Seibly

Jeannette Seibly delivers “straight talk with immediate results” to business owners and executives of $1MM to $30MM enterprises, creating dynamic results. You may contact her at for an initial free consultation.

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