8 years ago
April 13, 2016

7 Ways to Assess Sales Experience

One key aspect of the information you need from candidates is sales experience, which can be hard to assess.

Rhys Metler

The more information you have about sales candidates interested in your open position, the stronger the quality of hire you are likely able to make. One key aspect of the information you need from candidates is sales experience, which can be hard to assess as this is not just a function of how long a candidate has been selling but also how, where, and to whom he or she has been selling. The following seven assessment methods will help you drill down to measure and assess sales experience for your candidates.

1. Assess Sales Experience through Hypothetical Scenarios

Hypothetical scenarios help you assess sales experience by testing how candidates react to different problems and synopses. Candidates with deeper sales experience are able to draw on practice and knowledge to provide stronger solutions to these scenarios. Asking follow up questions to a candidate’s answer will further help you assess how and why he or she arrived at the answer given.

2. Assess Sales Experience through Situational Questions

As opposed to a hypothetical scenario, with situational questions you are looking for a direct, real-world past example of how the candidate solved a problem or made a difficult sale. A candidate’s past activities are usually a reliable indicator of how he or she will react in the future, as individuals tend to draw on past successes to overcome future problems.

3. Assess Sales Experience through Skills Testing

Skills testing is a dependable way to test the depth of a candidate’s sales experience, since high quality sales experience leads top performers to develop strong skill sets that can be measured. The foundation to skills testing is using proven skills tests that have been deployed to sales candidates with demonstrable success. Sales recruiters are one of the best sources for access to this type of skills testing.

4. Assess Sales Experience through Role Playing

Role playing is distinguished from traditional interview questions as the interviewer, or another hiring manager, assumes the role of a prospect to test the candidate while he or she makes a presentation leading into a sale. Role playing scenarios, questions, and responses should be established ahead of the interview, and should include a mix of dialogue designed to help you uncover the candidate’s real sales skills – in other words, prepare to challenge the candidate with a realistic situation.

5. Assess Sales Experience through Personality Testing

As opposed to skills testing, personality testing measures key traits of top performers: Self confidence, resilient attitude, integrity, and ethics are a few of the most important. It is possible to get an idea of how a sales candidate holds these traits through interviewing, but personality testing is a more consistent source for this information. As with skills testing, sales recruiters can assist you in choosing a proven personality test to use with your sales candidates.

6. Assess Sales Experience through Mastered Selling Methods

A top performer will have mastered several selling methods; if you can determine how many methods a candidate is comfortable with using, you have a better measure of their overall sales experience. A list of possible selling methods can be discussed in an interview or included in a skills or knowledge test. Remember that sometimes the same selling method is labeled under several different names, so be sure to use all of the most common names for a given method.

7. Assess Sales Experience through References

Every top performer can provide references, and these references are often what differentiate one candidate from the rest. However, not all hiring managers take advantage of the opportunity to assess sales experience when checking references. Be sure to ask questions about the candidate’s sales experiences when following up with these sources – especially if the candidate can provide a past client or prospect as a reference, which can be an invaluable insight into the candidate’s experience.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.