Originally published in Selling Power Magazine
Want better job interview questions for your next sales manager? Below are five questions hiring managers should ask more often, including some of the answers you’ll want to hear from qualified candidates.
1. Is cold calling dead?
Some interviewees may get defensive, or think this is a trick question. The answer, of course, is no. When all else fails (market conditions, marketing leads, etc.), picking up the phone is the one thing sales reps will always be able to control. But how they cold call – who they call, with what message and offer, at what frequency and cadence – is extremely important. Cold calling must be customer-centric and value-driven to succeed in today’s buyer-centric world.
2. Should reps get warm leads or build their own pipelines?
Similar question, different angle. The right answer is typically to get warm leads, but not because the reps are lazy or can’t successfully build their own business from the ground up. Lead-driven sales are typically more cost effective than having expensive sales reps cold calling. Yes, leads are expensive up-front, but the eventual cost per acquisition and overall lifetime value and margin for the business on those new customers is usually much better when reps are making more efficient use of their time with warm leads.
3. What’s the ideal relationship between sales & marketing, and how do you operationalize that?
It’s more than just inviting marketing to your meetings. The ideal relationship starts with common goals of what success looks like, common definitions of leads, qualified leads, lead stages and short-term opportunities. It’s working together on the same pipeline, and ensuring that success is measured and compensation is dispensed based on overall pipeline performance. Marketing needs to be held accountable for qualified opportunities and closed business. When that alignment takes place, the daily & weekly operational requirements more easily fall into place.
4. Should sales reps be paid commission?
Yes, there are more companies today that put their reps on a salary. But the best reps still want the variability of compensation, because they want the upside. They will happily take the risk (and the occasional bad month or quarter) to earn a C-level paycheck when they hit it out of the park.
5. Why don’t you want to make more money as an individual contributor?
Great question to ask prospective sales managers. The right answer comes down to how many commission checks they want. Sales managers will still have a portion of their compensation come as a performance bonus or commission based on their team’s performance. The best sales managers know they can make far more money as a manager in these conditions, buy not just driving higher sales themselves but improving the performance and consistently higher sales of an entire team. Sales managers still want their money, but they know the upside is actually higher as a manager with a good comp plan.