People Solutions for the Decorative Building Products Industry

Fishing Expedition, or Strategic Hire?

Fishing Expedition

Acquiring listeners, negotiators and closers for your sales team

According to, nearly 12.3% of all the jobs in the U.S. are full time sales positions. However, according to Caliper Corp., 55% of the people making their living in sales should be doing something else. This probably rings true for many hiring managers, with the old axiom running through their minds — 20% of the sales team delivers 80% of the revenue. So, how does one go about ensuring the “right” sales rep hire, for one of the most prevalent yet difficult talent searches today? We’re glad you asked.

At Keercutter, we screen, coach, assess and recommend numerous sales representatives for manufacturers and wholesalers in the decorative building products industry. The “formula” for a successful match between and sales rep candidate and a hiring company is not magic, in fact, it’s about asking strategic questions, and listening for insightful [not colorful, buzz word-filled] responses. Here are our favorite questions for sales rep candidates.

• How did you learn to sell?
o The professional sales rep has learned through proper training and on-the-job development. Some consider a sales position a fallback job, as if anyone can sell, when in fact we know that it requires a specific skill set and behavioral techniques.

• How much time do you spend developing new business [aka, hunting]? How much time do you spend nurturing existing accounts for more volume [aka farming]?
o These questions get to heart of the day to day mix of activities that drive new business.

• Who are your current key competitors and why do you perceive them as such?
o You will learn how deep this sales candidate goes to understand the competitive landscape. Sales leaders know that deep analysis of the competitive set identifies how their products can fill unmet needs by the competitors.

• How do you define a new customer’s needs and expectations?
o This question will reveal the candidate’s behavioral tactics that create either new customers or more sales from existing customers. Does the candidate employ active listening, probative questions, or share scenarios that demonstrate this uncovering process?

• Why do prospects buy your products/services?
o This is not a “how” question but rather a “why” question. Drive to understand if it’s the product/service the candidate sells as the primary purpose for the sale, or, is it a relationship driving the deal, or, even promotional advantages. Again, listen for cultural fit.

• When do you find silence to be useful in the selling process?
o Listening for and playing back key statements is critical to the engagement process, ensuring there’s understanding in the sales process. Silence can be strategic, and you will learn if this candidate uses silence effectively, or is generally uncomfortable with it.


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