5 Great Sales Manager Interview Questions

By
Brandon Gracey
April 2, 2018

Conducting hiring interviews can be a tough process, especially when you’re interviewing sales leaders who can see through trick questions and quickly craft charming answers. Don’t get us wrong, these are qualities you probably want in your candidate, but you also want to dig deeper. Chances are if you ask a sales manager a generic interview question, you are going to get an equally generic answer. Here are 5 sales manager interview questions to help you break out of the mundane interview process and sniff out sales managers who will be a great fit for your company.

5 Sales Manager Interview Questions

1. What skills and qualifications would you look for when hiring a sales rep for your team?

A large part of a sales manager’s job is to hire a staff of high performing sales reps. What constitutes a high performing rep can vary from company to company based on the product they’re selling, as well as the mission and values of the organization. This question can give you great insight into the candidate’s hiring abilities. You’ll get an idea of what they value in a sales rep, whether or not their management style is a fit for your company, and perhaps even a foreshadowing of what kind of sales team they’ll end up building.

2. Give us an example of a time you have had to address a sales rep that is consistently failing to meet their quota. How did you handle this situation and what was the outcome?

Questions like this (i.e. ones that require a candidate to provide a real world example of how they dealt with a challenging situation) are some of the most powerful questions you can ask in a hiring interview. Rather than asking them a leading question that “coaches” them into saying what they think you want to hear, these questions require a concrete answer. Ultimately, you want to learn how the candidate deals with a team or a rep that isn’t meeting company standards. A great answer to this question will be one that demonstrates how the candidate indentified the specific reason the rep was failing to meet their quota, how s/he addressed that issue, and whether or not it was ultimately rectified. A good follow-up to this question is, “Have you ever terminated a sales rep for any reason? Under what circumstances?”

3. What made you a good sales representative? What makes you a good manager?

Most sales managers have worked their way up from a sales rep position, and this question gets at the heart of a very important truth: many great sales reps turn out to be terrible managers. While a sales rep turned manager can certainly put themselves in a sales rep’s shoes and therefore understand their motivations, an ideal candidate will know that the skills of a sales rep are very different from the skills of a great manager. While sales reps are often responsible solely for their own goals and accounts, a manager must think about his or her team as a collective entity. Rather than being competitive and hands-on, they must be able to step back from the limelight and concentrate on helping others succeed. An ideal candidate will be able to give specific examples of their motivations and skills as a sales rep, and understand that those skills and motivations will have changed when they became a manager.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve given to a sales rep on his or her first day on the job?

A great sales manager is a natural leader and teacher, with genuine enthusiasm to help others succeed. If they’re only driven by meeting quota or closing deals, they may be better suited for a sales rep position. This question will help you see what kind of mentor the candidate will be, and how they will help your team grow and evolve. Look for a candidate who has a desire to help others, not someone who gives you a generic answer. Look for personal stories––the candidate should be able to demonstrate her ability to connect with people on a personal level.

5. Who is the smartest person you know?

This may seem like an odd question, but it can give you great insight into what traits the candidate values. By asking them to describe someone they know personally, you’ll be more likely to get a genuine answer. Ask for specificity. Answers to this will vary, but you are looking for a candidate who values the same traits you and your company value. Do you have a great method for identifying the best candidates to lead your sales team? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!