We get asked quite frequently for a cheat sheet of interview questions for inside sales and business development representative (BDR) candidates. In most cases, it’s not enough to simply enumerate a handful of common questions that work in every hiring situation.
Further, successfully identifying and evaluating candidates starts well before the interview, and requires careful consideration & mapping of candidate attributes with your intended and/or existing sales culture, approach and methodology.
Below are several of our typical recommendations to improve consistency, efficiency and success of hiring insides sales roles.
Sort resumes based on customer-facing experiences
Past inside sales experience is interesting, but not a primary indicator of potential future success. In addition to knowing the personality traits, strengths and attributes you need, I recommend looking for past experience and success in a variety of industries that require a keen focus on customer understanding and engagement. This includes hospitality, professional services, financial services, even food & beverage.
Look for industries and sales cultures that mirror your own approach and values
If you hire people out of hard-core call centers, they may have trouble adjusting to a more consultative, independent format. Candidates that come from a similar selling situation will also more likely be able to get up to speed and productive quickly for you.
Look for manager (vs peer) recommendations on their LinkedIn profiles
It’s easy to get your selling peers to endorse you for a new job. It’s another thing entirely for an active past manager to say the same thing. Know the difference, and look for the latter.
Know whether you’re looking for independence, process adherence, or both
Are you going to give reps a goal and let them work independently? Are you going to give everyone a specific process and expect consistent adherence? Or a mix of both? Be clear with candidates about what they’re getting into so there are no surprises. This can help eliminate early new rep churn and morale/management issues that might result with mismatched expectations.
Drill into organizational & time management skills
No matter your culture or approach, being organized both overall and “in the moment” is a common differentiator that often separates the mediocre from great inside sales reps. When you interview, ask questions about and seek examples of how candidates keep themselves organized and focused. Get a handful of scenarios related to sales process, email management, etc.
Ask for work product
This might be my favorite part. Have them spend 20-3o minutes pitching you on your product. Here’s an outline of how we often do it ourselves. Highly effective.
I’m sure I’ve missed tons of other key best practices. What are they? What would you add?