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How to use powerful questions for amazing sales hiring

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“There walks in our new rock-star salesperson” wishes every founder.

If Sales is oxygen, salespeople are the oxygen tanks.

Hiring is often overlooked and put under the purview of the Human Resources department.

And, I totally disagree with this practice. Founders, key stakeholders should not only own up this process but stay committed to this process

Focus on traits versus skills.

Just in case you missed my blog on the spiritual qualities required to succeed in sales, below is the link

If you are also sick, like me of those run-of-the-mill-yes-I’m-one-more-recruiter questions, lets dive in..

The 4 Teachable skills

  1. Confidence: Its highly overstated but never goes out of fashion
  2. Persuasion: can your sales guy stay put in the deal in the face of adversity
  3. Relationship: does she know what human dynamics are at play at each level
  4. Organisation skills: does she prepare well before the meeting and is in control at all times

Drive is the easiest to fake but most difficult to accurately rate.

Salespeople are synonymous with Drive — If you ain’t got it, you are going to suffer in this job. Research says post 21- 22 years of age it’s either there or not there.

The problem is candidates are very skilled in presenting themselves as hunters.

Let’s see how do we sift through the imposters, the good, the okay and find our great ones — look for the 3 below

3 non teachable skills

  1. Need for achievement: the drive and hunger to move from one goal to the next
  2. Competitiveness

2.1 To be the best amongst peers and

2.2 Win the customers with their point of view

3. Optimism: a never die spirit

Hiring is a team sport and also a team culture. So recommend doing the 2 things within

  • Set rigorous assessment and
  • Do it consistently

Questions to ask for the 3 Non teachable Sales Skills

Need for Achievement

What is the toughest goal have you ever achieved professionally and how do you intend to top it up?

This should get anyone thinking and you can see through their eyes, if they light up.

We are always proud to showcase our best and when someone asks about, watch out for the change in tone, body language and the passion behind the words.


What kinds of sacrifice you have made to become successful?

Again, a true salesperson who has earned their stripes on the streets, learnt, skills and knowledge would know that it takes serious sacrifice to be best in the game.

What did they give up in order to succeed — this brings out the real and the raw in the candidate.

When was the last time you showed competitive behaviour?

A salesperson should be naturally competitive and driven.

They like competing with their own peers and they like to win over customers at any cost.

This question should give hints on what the sales-guy is truly made up of inside.


Tell me when you were persistent when everyone gave up?

Sales is about hearing more No’s and less of Yes’s.

So how did she cope up in the face of tough adversity. Is she an emotional person, is she objective, is she tough and positive. Probe more.

Teachable skills questions

Tell me about a situation when you got results but had to ruffle someone’s feathers? Not held back by prospects rejections.

‎Tell me about the most difficult sale you ever made? Probe for objections, persuasion skills they are exhibiting. Nice broad question. How did she close the deal?

Relationship skills are extremely important for account acquisition and account maintenance. Tell me about a particularly difficult relationship with a customer or prospect?

Was the customers personality an issue?Find out if the situation was really tough or the candidate needs training on C-level prospecting or handling shop floor people.

Tell me about a situation when your organisation skills were important to you? Find out their levels of discipline and attention to detail on a particular deal

Yes, sales hiring is tough but as business owners we got to take a decision to have someone on board.

I will be very happy to hear on what your strategies and tactics are when it comes to hiring Sales people.

Author bio: Karmesh Ghosh, is Sales professional; has been hustling, and closing deals for the past 1.5 decades. Avid reader and loves foreign language movies. Writes on sales and marketing strategies for small and medium businesses. Currently, lives in Mumbai. Loves food and fast bikes.

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