Motivational Sales Speaker explains the #1 Key to Effective Sales Interviews

Nov 29 19:21 2006 Jeff Hardesty Print This Article

Motivational Sales Speaker’s advice on how to use Key Sales Performance Indicators to ‘See if the Shoe fits’ on both Sides of the Sales Interview Table

Sales Management: Do you have a sales management interview process that defines which sales candidate has the best ‘Right to Win’ for the sales position that’s being interviewed for? 

In sales organizations located in competitive industries,Guest Posting the sales employee turnover water runs deep; averaging 30-70% per year.  That results in a measurable hard-dollar cost, something you can actually put your finger on.  But with the proper strategies, process and support tools that cost can be minimized with great returns.  And it all starts with the interview process.

Sales Representatives: Do you have an interview strategy to diagnose if the company you are interviewing with is the right ‘Career Vehicle’ for you to make the money you want and get the recognition you deserve?  Because it you don’t, you may find yourself in that sales employee turnover pool of 30-70%.  And that’s not what you want on your next resume.

So let’s take a look at a way for ‘Both sides of the Table’ to discern if the sales position available is a mutual marriage for long term success.

It’s done through identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPI); individual gateways that directly effect the outcome of a particular process. Then they measure the competency ratios in line with them. 

A good Key sales performance indicator example in the sales process might be how many times you advance the first sales appointment to the next phase, whether that’s a demonstration, a site visit, a survey or a proposal. Another KPI is how many times you gain a new customer once the first gateway is passed. And when you do gain a new customer, what’s the average revenue you achieve? That’s certainly an important KPI. Because if your average revenue per sale is 40% less than the average peer KPI, you might want to find out why and take focused action to improve it, as you’re leaving money on the table.

And what about the length of a sales cycle in days? Is that conditional or do you have a degree of control over it? If you have a team member that has an average sales cycle 30% shorter than the peer group, uncover and assimilate those best practices out to the rest of the sales team. Less time, more results. That makes ‘Sales Cycle’ a valuable KPI.

Here are the main key sales performance indicators to focus on:

• Average Revenue per sale

• Sales cycle in days

• 1st appointment to proposal ratio

• Closing ratio

These key sales performance indicators will dictate how many new appointments per week are necessary to generate to have a right to meet the sales objective for the sales position.

Perhaps this is better illustrated by the following two mock interviews:

Sales Management:  “So Ted, I see here that you were in the top 2% of your sales peers for the last 4 years, averaging 172% of quota.  That is excellent.  I would love to hear about your process.  Can you share your process with me?

Sales Candidate:  “Well, I have always loved sales.  My dad was in sales.  I work very hard and talk with a lot of people.  I knock on 100 doors per week.  I like people and people like me.  I’m the first one to the fax machine in the morning to see if any leads came through.  I’m a great closer.  I won’t take ‘No’ for an answer.  Sometimes I come in the office on Saturday mornings to do some paperwork.  By the way… did I mention my Dad was in sales?”

From a sales management perspective that type of answer is a huge red flag – even if their past performance is legitimate and not embellished.  Based on that answer, this person may not be equipped to get the job done in a new environment.   The key to the sales interview question is the term ‘Process’.  If a sales candidate has a ‘Process’, odds are that process is transferable to another sales position even if it’s selling another type of Product or service.  Because ‘Process’ is transferable, hit and miss is not.  But there’s one caveat.

The caveat is for both sales management and the sales candidate to understand the current sales opening’s key performance indicators so both parties can understand if the sales candidate’s ‘process’ is indeed transferable to the new position, basically to see if the shoe fits.

With that in mind, let’s look at the next sales candidate:

Sales Management:  “So Cindy, I see here that you were in the top 2% of your sales peers for the last 4 years, averaging 172% of quota.  That is excellent.  I would love to hear about your process.  Can you share your process with me?

Sales Candidate:  “That’s a great question.  Before I took the position, I did some research to make sure that the service I would be selling had a “Right to Win” in the marketplace.”  In other words, were there any conditions either internally or externally in the marketplace that would  impede my success?

Next, I set a goal to reach quota by my 2nd full month.  The company did not expect it until the 4th month, but I saw how that would negatively affect my W-2.  To reach that goal, I needed an in-depth understanding of the critical elements of the sales process.  So I researched the company’s historical sales numbers such as selling cycle in days, average revenue per account, the ratio of how many times a 1st appointment turns into a proposal, and the average closing ratio.  With that data, I was able to calculate how many new appointments I needed to set every week to ultimately reach my sales goal.  Then I made sure this number was my first priority.

I kept track of my key sales performance ratios on a weekly basis.  As my key sales performance ratios adjusted, I adjusted my new appointment sets per week.  My necessary new sales appointment activity varied between 4-6 appointments per week depending on where I stood on my other ratios.

I used my off time to expand my education about my industry.  I conducted post sale interviews with decision-makers to learn everything I could about how I could better understand their business issues to be more effective in the future.

To supplement my front-end prospecting activity, I developed my own referral program and attended a lead-sharing group.  I guess I was fortunate.  Everything worked out.”

The second candidate illustrates a mastery of the sales process, and a deep understanding of how key sales performance indicators drive sales success.

So whether you’re the ‘Interviewer’ or the ‘Interviewee’ in diagnosing the right fit for the sales position, (1) Communicate your key sales performance indicators, (2) Identify what the benchmark ratios are needed for sales candidate Success and (3) communicate the ‘Fit’ for both company sales objectives and the sales candidate’s career goals.

After all, the main objective of any sales interview process is for BOTH parties to narrow the Gap between the perception of the sales position ‘pre-hire’ and the Reality of its accountability ‘post-hire’.

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About Article Author

Jeff Hardesty
Jeff Hardesty

Jeff Hardesty is a National sales speaker, Sales performance improvement consultant and the Developer of the X2 Sales System®, a blended sales prospecting training system that teaches sales professionals the competency of setting targeted C-level business appointments. Jeff can be reached at

Submit your sales performance numbers and receive a complimentary Sales performance Check-up with Jeff and a 15-minute Evaluator web-cast complete with (3) Sales Performance Improvement Blueprints @




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