Fundamentals of an Effective Sales Interview Process: Part 1
A 2-part series covering tips and tricks for structuring your interview process.
Part One > 📌 You are here.
From startups to late-stage companies, hiring has its challenges. Some of these challenges can be mitigated by taking some time to think about what your business needs, preparing a simple process and getting alignment with your team before you start speaking to candidates.
North Star Metric(s)
If you’re new to the idea of North Star Metric(s), here’s a great article to get you started.
Which metric, if it were to increase today, would most accelerate your business forward? What is the north star of your business in the next 6-12 months? What roles are critical for achieving your goals? If the answer is tied to revenue that you expect salespeople to bring in, work backwards from the goal that you need to achieve.
Questions you should think about:
What is the quota of each sales rep?
What is the estimated ramp of each sales rep?
What is the average attainment to quota in each sales hiring class after 6 months?
What is the average attrition rate for each sales class?
How long does it take to hire one sales rep?
How many employees in other departments do you need to hire to support these sales reps?
If you’re an early-stage company, make conservative assumptions based on activity from founder-led sales. At the end of this exercise, you should have an idea of how many people you need to hire to hit your company’s number.
Ideal candidate profile
To understand the candidate you’re looking for, it's critical to understand what phase your sales organization is in. Read this article for more color on the evolution of a sales department.
What does your business need in the next 12 months, and what is the makeup of the person that is going to hit the goals required for the business to move forward? To simplify, let’s break sales reps down into three categories: renaissance, enlightened and coin operated.
Renaissance Reps: This is your first sales hire. He/she is the individual dropped on an island with a knife and told to figure it out - a true jack of all trades. If you’re at this stage, read hiring your first sales rep
Enlightened Reps: These reps should be able to pick up sales scripts and existing emails campaigns and run with what they have. The playbook isn’t built out yet during this phase, so these reps still need to be able to adapt fast and own their book of business to get the job done. They rely more on sales skills and not needing to be true generalists like the renaissance reps
Coin-operated Reps: They are given the playbook, learning and development resources for ramp, a territory, and a clearly defined compensation plan. The levers for increasing sales productivity are also more well-defined in this phase.
Ideally, we hire people who will work with us for the long run, but understanding where your business is - and the type of sales rep you need during this phase - can be critical in identifying your ideal candidate profile.
Once an ideal candidate profile has been identified, it’s important to have a meeting with all the necessary stakeholders to make sure everyone is in agreement.
If there’s a disagreement, that’s ok. In fact, it’s very healthy and normal. However, don’t start speaking with candidates until everyone is aligned, or they at least commit to the ideal candidate profile despite their objections.
With larger organizations, it's common to see sales managers in different markets doing their own thing and creating an ideal candidate profile with their own recruitment criteria. You can avoid this pitfall by getting true alignment across the board.
Setting a timeline can play a big part in the entire process. Recruiting is a team sport. Yes, you can have internal or external partners dedicated to this project, but everybody needs to be involved and sprinting to meet a specific deadline. Without setting and meeting hiring deadlines, the business will simply slow down.
In part 2 we will discuss writing your job description, having consistency in your interview process, what interview rounds we recommend and what goes into a sales exercise along with handouts to guide you through the interview.