March 22, 2016

Hiring a sales manager is no easy task, but it is one that you must take seriously if you want your sales team to succeed.

As you may already know, not all salespeople are cut out to be effective sales managers. For one thing, the two job roles require vastly different skill sets. One top of that, a salesperson who transitions to a management role often takes a pay cut, so he/she may not be happy with the promotion if money is her main motivator at work.

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That being said, some salespeople can transitions to a sales management role with ease and lead their team to achieve better sales results.

As the interviewer, it is your job to find the right sales manager, and the following interview questions can help you do that successfully.

What to Ask Sales Manager Candidates in a Job Interview

1. Why do you want to become a sales manager?

It is likely a bad sign if the candidate lets you know that she wants to become a sales manager because she is looking to make more money or because she has simply become bored with her job and wants a new role.

That is because 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 her passion for helping the company grow and her desire to help make strategic decisions that push the sales department toward success.

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2. What would you say to a low-performing sales rep in a one-on-one meeting?

For sales managers, uncomfortable conversations with low-performing reps are unavoidable. You need to make sure the candidate can handle those situations with ease.

When he answers this question, he should show signs that he is an effective motivator and convey that he is neither too tough nor too easy on low-performing reps. If he does these things, he is likely capable of leading 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 motivates sales reps, but effective sales managers know that motivation is more personal than that.

When your candidate is answering this question, she should communicate that motivation depends on each salesperson’s specific situation. That way, you can feel confident knowing that she will be able to motivate every rep on her team.

4. How did you achieve success as a sales rep and how will you use your knowledge to help you team achieve success?

Listen closely as the candidate describes her methods, because those methods will likely play a major role in the way she trains her salespeople to sell.

Also, make sure that the candidate does not plan to force her methods on all of the sales reps. To be an effective sales manager, she 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, he 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 her willingness to take a hands-on approach to onboarding so she can set her salespeople up for success. It is a good sign if she mentions things like:

  • Setting goals for each rep on the team and following up with each rep to make sure he/she is achieving those goals
  • Explaining the technology used in the sales department
  • Providing lots of resources
  • Encouraging socialization
  • Introducing the new salesperson to key players at the company
  • Assigning a good mentor to work with the new salesperson

If he avoids these topics and simply mentions that he would talk about the required sales quotas and email the salesperson some training videos, he might not be able to train sales reps effectively.

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 the way they work.

If the sales manager does not understand technology or has a difficult time learning how to use it, she 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.

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8. What makes you the ideal candidate for the sales manager position?

A qualified candidate will likely mention leadership skills, tell stories about how he led a team to success in the past and talk about how he enjoys 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 her sales skills, she 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 results 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 choosing high-performing sales reps.

The #1 quality your sales manager should look for in a new salesperson is Drive. A Driven salesperson will possess these three non-teachable traits:

  1. Need for Achievement
  2. Competitiveness
  3. Optimism

It is a good sign if the sales manager mentions any of these traits. However, it should not be a deal-breaker if she does not mention them – you can easily teach her to look for these traits or allow her to test potential salespeople for them using a sales personality test like The DriveTest™.

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.