What to look for when interviewing candidates for a sales role

repvueJul 28, 2022


Hiring is tough for any company, but it’s especially hard for SaaS companies. It is unbelievably competitive and you need to find people who can hit the ground running and make an immediate impact on your team. This can be challenging even if you’re hiring experienced sales reps. But what happens when you’re interviewing someone with no prior experience in your space? It can be difficult to tell if they’ll be a good fit until they’ve already been hired, so there’s some risk involved. In today’s post, I’ll go over everything to look for when hiring new sales reps at your company—from traits to look for, to questions during interviews. This way you’re well prepared!

Sales Hiring

Look for people who are experienced in your space.

Experience is a key factor in hiring for sales roles. You want to hire people who are experienced in your space, i.e. they have relevant experience with your product or service, industry and type of work you do.

The best way to look for someone who has a lot of experience is by asking them questions about their past experiences that relate back to what you are currently looking for:

  • “Tell me about a time when you were able to overcome some objections and close the deal.” This question can help determine if the candidate was able to overcome objections successfully in the past and demonstrate how they did it (and whether they fully understood why they won).
  • Ask questions that relate back to specific skills needed for this role: “Tell me about a time when you had an opportunity but couldn’t take advantage of it because there wasn’t enough staff available” or “Tell me about a time when two projects came up at once and one had higher priority than another.”

Be deliberate about your hiring process.

Many companies hire sales reps as a result of not having a plan for the hiring process. This means that they don’t know what their requirements are, and thus don’t know what kind of person will fill those needs. You can avoid this by being deliberate about your hiring process from start to finish.

First, plan ahead: For example, you can create a timeline for when you want to hire someone and when open positions might be available so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it makes sense to have multiple openings at once. Then set a budget for how much salary money is available for an ideal candidate — this will help keep costs down while still ensuring that you get quality people on board!

Next, understand the job requirements: What type of work does your company do? What kind of skills do candidates need in order to succeed there? How many years of experience do they need before starting in order not only perform well but also develop into leaders within the organization (if applicable)? These are all great questions that should be answered first before trying out any applicants!

Next step is understanding what kind of person fits best into each role; rather than just focusing on credentials like degrees earned or previous experience working elsewhere (even if those things may seem important), try looking at personality traits like honesty versus deceitfulness or risk-taking behavior versus risk-aversion tendencies because these may lead them towards different types scenarios long term which could affect results positively or negatively depending upon circumstances surrounding them now too.”

Hire people with a good work ethic.

When interviewing candidates, look for the following qualities:

  • Work ethic. Candidates should demonstrate a willingness to work hard, be dedicated and committed, show loyalty and responsibility. Look for candidates who can handle themselves well in a variety of situations, who are tenacious (have the ability to keep going even when they have lost), can function independently as well as collaboratively and remain motivated throughout their careers. Also look for self-starters who can solve problems on their own with minimal supervision or input from others; these are valuable traits in salespeople because they will not need much hand holding once hired.
  • Team player. Salespeople must also be able to work well with others on teams; this includes having good interpersonal relationships with colleagues as well as customers—you don’t want someone who causes conflict every other day at the office!
  • Passion/Motivation/Creativity/Flexibility: Salespeople should be passionate about what they do; this passion will lead them into new areas of expertise that could help your company grow even more over time (and make you money!). They should have strong motivation levels so they aren’t tempted by competitors’ offers; creativity allows them to come up with new ideas or strategies related to selling your product or service; flexibility means being able to adapt quickly if things change unexpectedly during an interaction with a customer (which happens frequently); accountability means owning up when mistakes happen instead of blaming someone else for causing those errors (or worse).

Hire for traits and not for experience.

Hire for traits and not for experience. It’s easy to get stuck thinking you need someone with a certain set of skills, but you don’t need a sales veteran who knows every single step in the process (which also means you won’t have to train them). Instead, look for candidates who already have some knowledge about the industry and are willing to learn more from you.

Ask the right questions.

When interviewing candidates for sales roles, it’s important to ask the right questions. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Ask how they handle pressure.
  • Ask about what they’ve done to overcome adversity.
  • Ask about what they’ve done to achieve success.
  • Ask about the biggest mistake they’ve made and how they learned from it (this can be a great way of seeing if someone handles criticism well)

Pay well but also invest in training.

The best candidates are always trying to improve. When you’re interviewing a candidate for a sales role, it’s important to consider what they are looking for in their next role. It’s also important to ensure that you’re paying them fairly and competitively.If you want to see the going rates, go here to see compensation data for SDRs, BDRs, and Account Executives. That said, don’t pay too much—this is not the time or place to start throwing money around like it grows on trees! But don’t cut corners either; if you do so by paying someone less than what they deserve or need, then the likelihood is that they will leave sooner rather than later. The same goes when hiring new staff: make sure that their salary expectations align with the standard market rate for their skillset or experience level.

When interviewing candidates who want more than just a job title and paycheck (i.e., those who want professional development opportunities), it can be tempting as an employer to provide training tailored specifically toward each individual’s needs based on what he or she wants out of life long-term goals.”

A good sales team is the lifeblood of SaaS success.

A good sales team is the lifeblood of SaaS success. Sales is the business development function that gets new customers and new business, and without it your company will fail.

I’ve seen this happen many times: a company starts off with a small team, doing everything from IT to customer support. As the company grows, so does its need for salespeople—but by this time there’s a problem: nobody knows how to hire them! So they throw up some ads on LinkedIn or their own website (if they have one), and then interview everybody who applies for an open position. Most people applying are not qualified for these roles because they don’t know what makes a good SaaS salesperson or why having one is so important for growing your company’s revenue stream over time.


It’s important to look for the right skills and traits in your candidates, but make sure you’re not just hiring based on experience. The best salespeople are often those who have had a hard time finding success for themselves in other roles or industries. Look at their experience as a positive—not something that should be overlooked because it doesn’t fit within your normal parameters. Good luck in your hiring process!

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