Hiring a sales manager isn’t an easy task, but it is one you will want to take seriously to build a successful sales team.
Not all salespeople are made to be effective sales managers. For one thing, the two job roles require vastly different skill sets. On top of that, a salesperson who transitions to a management role often takes a pay cut, so they may not be happy with the promotion if money is their main motivation at work.
That being said, some salespeople can transition to a sales management role with ease and lead their team to achieve better results. As the interviewer, it is your job to find the right sales manager during the sales interview, and these behavioral interview questions for sales managers will help you do just that.
The Top Sales Interview Questions for a Sales Manager
1. Why do you want to become a sales manager?
It is likely a bad sign if the candidate lets you know that they want to become a sales manager because they are looking to make more money or because they have simply become bored with their job and want a new role during the sales manager interview.
Sales managers often make less money than sales reps, and salespeople are often dissatisfied when they take on the new role as manager solely because it seems like a natural career progression.
A good candidate for the job will talk about their passion for helping the company grow and their desire to help make strategic decisions that push the sales department toward success.
2. What would you say to a low-performing sales representative in a one-on-one meeting?
For sales managers, uncomfortable conversations with low-performing representatives are unavoidable. You need to make sure the candidate can handle those situations with ease.
When they answer this question, they should show signs that they are an effective motivator and convey that they are neither too tough nor too easy on low-performing reps. If they do these things, they are likely capable of coaching a sales team — even when they are struggling.
3. What do you believe to be the main motivator for sales reps?
There is no doubt that money is a big motivator, but effective sales managers know that motivation is more personal than that.
When your candidate is answering this question, they should communicate that motivation depends on each salesperson’s specific situation. This way you can feel confident knowing that they are able to motivate every rep on their team.
4. How did you achieve success as a sales rep and how will you use your knowledge to help your team achieve success?
Listen closely as the candidate describes their methods because those methods will likely play a major role in the way they will train their salespeople to sell.
Make sure that the candidate does not plan to force their methods on all of the sales reps. To be an effective sales manager, they must understand that there is more than one way to sell effectively, and be accepting of alternative methods that have been proven to work.
5. How would you coach the sales team?
Listen for signs that the candidate understands that a good coach helps salespeople with career development by building strong sales skills and teaching them how to solve problems on the job. If the candidate merely talks about addressing numbers and quotas, they may not be the best fit to motivate and lead a team.
6. How would you onboard and train a new sales rep?
Your candidate should express their willingness to take a hands-on approach to onboarding so they can set their salespeople up for success. It is a good sign if they mention things like:
- Setting goals for each rep on the team and following up with each rep to make sure they are achieving those goals
- Explaining the technology used in the sales department
- Providing resources
- Encouraging socialization
- Introducing the new salesperson to key players at the company
- Assigning a good mentor to work with the new salesperson
If they avoid these topics and simply mention that they would talk about the required sales quotas and email the salesperson some training videos, they might not be able to train sales reps effectively. A desire to partake in sales management training or various sales courses is also noted as a good sign
7. Would you say that you are tech-savvy?
Good technology is key to a successful sales department. Chances are the sales manager’s team will use a CRM and several other applications to streamline their processes.
If the sales manager does not understand the technology or has a difficult time learning how to use it, they will not be able to teach new hires how to use that technology effectively. Keep that in mind when you are deciding on the best candidate for your sales manager position.
8. What makes you the ideal candidate for this position?
A qualified candidate will likely mention leadership skills, tell stories about how they led a team to success in the past and talk about how they enjoy inspiring others and motivating them to improve.
Remember, many good sales reps turn out to be ineffective managers, so if your candidate simply talks about their sales skills, they may not be the best fit for the job.
9. Are you comfortable analyzing data?
Sales managers must be able to make data-based decisions about how to lead their team. If they are uncomfortable collecting and analyzing data, they will likely be unable to do so, which may result in them making emotion-based decisions that negatively affect their team.
10. What attributes would you look for when hiring a new sales rep?
If your sales manager cannot build and lead a successful sales team, your company’s profitability will suffer overall. That is why this question is important – it allows you to determine whether the candidate is capable of hiring salespeople that are high-performing.
The number one quality your sales manager should look for in a new salesperson is Drive. A Driven salesperson will possess these three non-teachable traits:
- Need for Achievement
It is a good sign if the sales manager mentions any of these traits. However, it should not be a deal-breaker if they do not mention them – you can easily teach them to look for these traits or allow them to test potential salespeople by using a sales personality test while hiring salespeople. There is also the opportunity for your new salesperson to take sales training programs or sales courses to help educate them.
Making the Hiring Decision
If you ask all of the questions outlined here and listen for responses that are indicative of a good candidate for a sales management role, you will be able to make a good decision about who to hire. Doing so will ensure your sales team has a strong leader who can inspire them to work harder and motivate them to sell more than ever.
Could your sales representative make a good sales manager? If you find a candidate that is a good fit, our sales management masterclasses and online video series, Sales Psyched!, can help them build their high-performance sales team.