Selecting Sales Pros

Defining Requirements

Self-Management Skills

  • Able to compete
  • Establish goals, plans of action, and own work structure
  • Accept the organizational goals and objectives and work towards them
  • Able to handle pressure and stressful situations without losing composure and objectivity
  • Able to set priorities and manage time effectively
  • Able to be assertive when necessary
  • Able to make decisions
  • Able to display a high level of self-discipline
  • Able to relate and work with people
  • Able to analyze and solve problems
  • Able to achieve stated objectives through persistence
  • Able to work independently and as a member of a team
  • Able to maintain client confidentiality
  • Able to be both a leader and a follower
  • Able to be confident and in charge of ones’ own destiny

Planning Skills

  • Able to make realistic forecasts of time, money and human power needed
  • Able to establish budgets, stay within budgets and control spending
  • Able to determine and write policy and procedure
  • Able to develop, in writing, a plan of action or a program
  • Able to be flexible and modify plans when necessary – manage change
  • Able to communicate plans both orally and in writing

Sales & Marketing Skills

  • Able to analyze the needs of the marketplace
  • Able to develop a marketing strategy
  • Able to calculate market share
  • Able to calculate profitability and productivity analyses
  • Able to make sales calls and meet and relate to a variety of people
  • Able to learn about products and services
  • Able to deal with rejections
  • Able to ask for an order and be persistent
  • Able to tolerate and be patient with people
  • Able to negotiate terms and contracts

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Able to communicate with empathy
  • Able to communicate warmth and a caring attitude
  • Able to listen and hear what a person is really saying
  • Able to communicate respect for an individual
  • Able to focus on the interests of others
  • Able to confront others without hurting them
  • Able to counsel others and help them to solve their own problems

Designing the Questions

Avoid the questions that:

  • Can be answered in just a word or two – did you do x or y?
  • Suggest the answer you want – given that ambitious assignment, how did you delegate?
  • Allow hypothetical responses – how would you handle….?
  • Invite opinions – Why do you think/believe?


  • Focus on drawing detailed descriptions of behaviour and follow up with requests for more detail
  • Supplement by the specific concerns of the company and the position
  • Evaluate the relevant competencies and key success factors

Probing Questions

  • What did you next?
  • What was the response?
  • What were you thinking?
  • What was the outcome?
  • How often have you done this?
  • What problems did you encounter?
  • What did you enjoy about the process?
  • What did you do to adjust?

Ability & Talent Questions

  • What successes are you most proud of, in your professional life, and what did you do to achieve them?  Re-examine candidate’s education, experience and self-assessment.
  • What are the key successful characteristics that will help you be successful with our company?  Examine self-confidence and consciously competent.

Attitude & Effort Questions

  • What best demonstrates your ability to work hard?  Why?  Examine effort history.
  • What commitments are you willing to make, or what price would you pay, to reach your goals and expectations?
  • What habits do you have that contribute to your success?

Match to Opportunity Questions

  • Why are you thinking of changing jobs or career?
  • What attracts you to our product and our company? Why us?
  • Work through the job description
  • Is this right opportunity for you?
  • What do you want from your career?
  • How do you see this position leading to your long-term goals?
  • Are these things you are looking for?

Questions to Assess Sales Attributes

Business Practices – Integrity, Openness & Honesty in Conduct

  • Can you describe a situation in which you found it important to take an unpopular stand?
  • Sometimes salespeople experience pressures to make or accept decisions with which they disagree.  Has this ever happened to you?  If so, what was the situation and how did you deal with it?
  • How did you handle a situation where your client is misrepresenting or asking you to misrepresent?

Common Sense – Read Situations well using Logic and/or Intuition & Act

  • Good salespeople need to have common sense, street smarts, alertness, awareness of procedures, openness to possibilities and readiness to react effectively to a variety of situations and clients. Shows a quick, intuitive grasp of how, when, and why certain actions are appropriate. Decisiveness and persuasiveness are crucial.
  • How would you define common sense?  Develop your own definition and describe a situation where you demonstrated this quality?
  • Describe a situation in which, to accomplish a set objective, you had to adapt to an unanticipated situation and develop a new strategy to achieve the objective.
  • What was the outcome? How would you train someone? Specify incidents? How does it contribute to your sales success?

Achievement Drive – Ambition & Energy

  • The need to achieve, not sense of achievement is crucial. Looks forward to rewards, engaged and energized by the challenges and satisfactions of the sales process.
  • Describe a recent situation in which you set a challenging goal and achieved it.
  • What was the most challenging project you completed within the last year?
  • Describe a challenging situation that required you to work harder than you had planned.
  • What did you do next? What was your next challenge? What were you feeling? How did you evaluate your performance? How often have you done this? What did you enjoy about the process? Did you have to make any adjustments?

Level of Energy – Disciplined & Effective Ways

  • What incident would you best demonstrate your ability to set and achieve a specific demanding goal?
  • Outline what you did on the best day of your last job; include the full day’s activities.
  • What did you do on a typical day?
  • How often have you set and achieved goals in this manner? What problems did you encounter? What did you enjoy about the process? What goal required the greatest amount of effort? What adjustments did you have to make?

Money Motivation – Healthy Respect for Money

  • The need to close quickly and often leads to keep score.
  • Good candidates think of the use of money rather than the amount of money.
  • Describe a situation in which your company or manager set up a new compensation plan and describe how that affected your effort.
  • Which job paid you the most?
  • How did the pay affect your performance?
  • Describe a situation in which your performance was directly affected by the compensation you received.
  • Why should you make so much money?

Natural Market – Involved in Various Groups & Networks

  • Have existing connections and have a sense of where potential clients will be found.
  • Who do you consider your best source of potential sales?
  • Outline situations in which you were the leader of a group (sports teams, service clubs & community organizations).
  • How did the individuals respond to your leadership involvement? How did you feel? How did you evaluate your effectiveness? What qualities help you develop client relationships? What type of clients do you enjoy the most? What didn’t you enjoy about the process?

Belief in Product/Service – Uses, Supports & Recommends with Pride

  • A commitment is crucial and increasingly hard to establish as the product becomes increasingly intangible. Doing the right thing.
  • What are the benefits of our products/services?
  • What are the benefits of a sales career with us?
  • What distinguishes us from other good companies?
  • What distinguishes our products/services from the products/services offered by other companies in the industry?

Financial Stability – In Good Order

  • What are the features of your own personal financial planning strategies?
  • Do you live within your financial resources?
  • What is your investment philosophy?
  • Do you have any financial needs that might influence your ability to live within our compensation plan?

Effort History – Work Habits & Plenty of Resources

  • What daily habits have you developed in your current job?
  • What personal goals did you set last year and what are you doing to ensure that you achieve these goals?
  • Which goals contributed the most to your success and why?
  • Which habits will you continue? What is the first habit you will try to establish working with us? Why?
  • What are the major temptations that could interfere with your success and self-discipline?

Emotional Stability – Good Tolerance for Stress & Challenges

  • Able to cope with sudden changes, uncontrollable circumstances and unexpected demands.
  • Good emotional balance, toughness and self-control.
  • Describe a particularly difficult period in your work history and what you did to cope with the situation.
  • What previous experiences helped you deal with the situation?
  • What were the most demanding aspects of the situation?
  • What personal qualities contributed to your success in dealing with the situation?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What did you do to prevent similar situations from occurring?

Form Relationships – Meet People Easily & Enjoy New Relationships

  • Outline how you entered new relationships with people the last time you started a new job or entered a new environment?
  • Have you ever met someone who seemed to have a poor impression of you before you said a word? If so, how did you manage the situation?
  • Dealing with clients can sometimes create a great deal of interpersonal tension. Have you experienced such tension? If so, describe one of those occasions.
  • How would you assess your abilities in forming new relationships?
  • What is your biggest interpersonal strength?
  • What qualities allow you to manage interpersonal relationships?
  • What is the greatest challenge in developing a relationship with a new client?
  • How do you balance closing a sale with building a relationship?

Industry/Product Knowledge – Relevant Certificates, Licenses & Knowledge

  • When did you acquire the certificate, license and degree?
  • Why did you seek them?
  • How did you balance the demands of the course with your work demands?