Most Sales Directors are very confident, and strong communicators, focussed on building a very positive feeling with customers. But sometimes you need to get beneath the surface, and understand what’s working and what’s not working. They don’t like admitting weakness in their own organisations at all: their professional training kicks in and your questions are treated as objections to be countered and sold round.
So if you have to interview a Sales Director or Manager, use the fact that no-one can do, know and control everything to your advantage. Ask for facts. Politely deflect their sales lines, opinions and ego riffs, and just keep drilling down into the detail. Even the best of them will reach a point where they have to admit they don’t know everything, and then you can have a much more direct, open, constructive conversation…
1: Start with the Top 10 deals (…good ones sail through this).
For each deal, ask: What’s the decision making process? Where are you in it? When was your last personal contact with the account? When's your next? What ‘s the closing plan? Do you have a Plan B?
2: Ask to see their Ideal Salesperson definition in terms of skills and qualities
They should have one of these too, and be able to talk you through how each of their team compares. (see my other Blog on Ideal Salesperson Definition).
By now, you’ve sorted out the bluffers from the serious boys. Now for the detail…..ask them to divide their team into three:
3a Top performers (on target, good pipeline)
3b Just good enough performers (patchy, off form)
3c Those below your belief threshold (long term under performers)
4 And now the killers... for each salesperson...