This is one of my favorite ways to separate the good from not-as-good inside sales candidates we see on a regular basis.

Interviews are great but aren’t anywhere near the typical environment in which those sales professionals are going to help you make money.  Past experience and performance is nice but doesn’t always cleanly translate to a new company, new industry, new internal and external selling environment, etc.

I want to see that inside sales candidate in action.  So what we often do is ask them to pitch us. On our product.

Basically, we ask them to take what they find on the Web site and convert that into a voicemail script and email template.  I then ask them to use them on us (or on the hiring manager at the company we’re working with).  That literally means leaving us a voicemail and sending the follow-up email.

I’m curious to see a number of things with this short homework assignment.

How long did it take them to turn it around after the interview? How long was the voicemail?  Was it product focused or customer focused?  Did the email come first or the voicemail first?

I’ve found that evaluating these homework assignments against general best practices has been a very consistent leading indicator of whether those reps will be effective in communicating, convincing and converting more prospects into qualified opportunities.

Curious if you’ve had experience or success with something similar.  If you ask sales candidates to do some other type of “homework assignment”, please share in the comments below.