[Guest Article] 10 Great Interview Questions to Ask When Hiring a Printing Sales Representative

Brandon Stapper, Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs and Graphics collected 10 interview questions that are perfect to ask when hiring a printing sales representative.

You could have the latest printing equipment, budget-intensive advertising campaigns, and the most attractive service packages. But if your sales team is not performing up to par, your business is in deep trouble. Ultimately, numbers are everything and top sales representatives ensures a stream of clients and projects that keep the company profitable.

Important Qualities of A Sales Representative

There’s often a misconception that an effective salesperson is one who could speak for hours pitching on a service. That’s not true, especially when you’re in a B2B industry, such as the printing business.

Instead, a salesperson who’s prepared to listen rather than speak stands a better chance to close a deal with the prospect. He or she must display empathy to grasp the client’s mood and perspective to craft a deal that is likely to be accepted.

Let’s get real. Not every sales representative are experts in their respective industries. Your sales candidate may not be well-equipped with technicalities of how printing machines work. But they have to be self-driven to learn the key features of the products or services that they are trying to pitch.

If marketing is storytelling at its best, sales are all about going in for the kill. You’ll need an individual who is aggressive and demonstrate the hunger to bring back the deal. He or she should have a laser-like focus and stop at nothing until the goals are achieved.

Sales is a numbers game, and to hit the numbers, a sales representative needs to be a master of networking. Great communications skills are mandatory and personal charms are an extra bonus. Of course, you shouldn’t overlook honesty, as you wouldn’t want the company to be involved in shady dealings.

10 Interview Questions To Shortlist the Best Candidates for Sales

You have an idea of what the perfect sales representative should possess. The problem is, how do you pick the perfect candidate during the recruitment process.

This is where having a set of purposeful interview questions is handy. They may not be the mind-boggling questions used by Google, but help you to filter the best person for the job.

Here are our favourites:

1. Tell Me About the Time When You Were Asked to Perform a Task Beyond Your Scope of Responsibilities. How Did You Manage and What Was the Outcome?

Sales representatives is a dynamic profession that requires an individual to adapt to ever-changing situations. You wouldn’t want to hire someone who plays by the book and could not function in an unstructured environment.

Asking this question allows you to evaluate if candidates can adapt when pushed beyond their comfort zone. A sales representative who continuously gripes about taking on other tasks has no place in a team.

You’ll need a candidate who’s willing to wear different hats if that’s what it takes to win a deal.

2. What Did You Do When Faced with Challenges at Work That is Beyond Your Capability to Overcome?

You may have heard this question uttered by fellow interviewers, and it’s a great way to predict the candidate’s behavior when placed in a difficult situation. You’ll have an insight into the grit and innovative approach demonstrated by the candidate during past challenges.

In the printing industries, countless factors could compromise a delivery, and you’ll want a reliable sales representative to diffuse difficult situations. For instance, a client may insist on getting further discounts just before a deal is finalized.

Depending on the candidate’s answer, you may have a gem stepping into your team.

3. Would You Stop Pursuing a Prospect? Why?

It seems like a direct yes and no question until you listened to the candidate’s reasoning. In the printing business, you can’t be a right fit for every single customer and relentlessly pursuing clients may not be feasible at all times.

You’ll have an insight into the candidate’s understanding of the sales process and what constitutes as the criteria for a matching client. There’s no point selling to one who can’t afford or does not need the service. Sometimes, a sales representative needs to say no for the sake of the company.

4. How Do You Stay Updated with Your Current Industry?

With luck, you may discover your next sales superstar with this question. The printing industry has evolved rapidly where digital technologies are transforming conventional printing methods. A candidate who is contented to carry out the basic responsibilities may not be the best choice for the company.

Instead, you’ll want someone who is resourceful and be the first to pick up the latest trends. This means a candidate who’s keen to visit trade forums, and has an unquenchable thirst for learning. Such entrepreneurial quality will provide a competitive edge to your business.

5. Teach Me About Something.

Modern days sales are more than mere selling. If you’re hoping to retain your clients, you’ll need sales representatives who are adept in teaching, especially to professionals who are unfamiliar with the printing industry.

Allow the candidate to get accustomed to a product or app quickly, and show you the ropes about using it. You’ll get a hint if he or she is a keeper by how the instructions are delivered. The candidate should be able to articulate the instructions clearly that make perfect sense for new users.

6. How Would You Utilize the Internet in Your Sales Strategy?

Like it or not, the days where a salesperson goes knocking from door to door are over. Time and information are both critical in the sales process, and you’ll want your candidates to be master of both.

The candidates should provide evidence that they can leverage the internet to research their prospects. Besides that, customer engagement tends to happen more frequently on social media than physical meetings. Failure in optimizing the digital aspects of sales means putting the company at a disadvantage in a competitive industry.

7. If You’re Hired, What Would Your Daily Schedule Look Like For the First Month?

If you’re in need of a sales representative who could step into the fifth gear immediately, you need to make this question mandatory in the interview. First, it demonstrates the candidate’s understanding of the job responsibilities and how they align with his or her skills.

What’s more important is the answer reveals the candidate’s ability to plan with clear actions that are designed to achieve sales goals. No managers would want to continue pestering their sales representatives on their daily plans.

8. How Did You Handle Rejection?

You’ll want to hire a sales representative who is brimming with optimism as rejections are common in sales. The question reveals the candidate’s characteristics and whether he or she possesses persuasive skills to handle rejections.

A candidate who gives up on the first rejection isn’t a good fit for the team. Sometimes, prospects tend to offer false rejections which are not definite and can be turned into positives.

Look for instances where the candidate probes for the reasons of rejections and make satisfactory suggestions that result in acceptance. It’s a subtle skill that marks the best from the rest.

9. Why Did You Choose Our Company?

This is a simple question that can reveal a great deal of a candidate’s personality. You’ll want to recruit sales representatives who are not only serious about their job but also shows a high level of passion for the company.

A decent candidate would have researched the background of your company, and that indicates that he or she is genuinely interested in the history and culture of the company. Chances are, it takes lesser time for the candidate to bond with the team.

It can be costly for the HR department if candidates leave the company barely weeks into the job just because of mismatched expectations.

10. Why Did You Leave Your Current Job?

You may be tempted to hire a candidate on the spot, based on his or her exceptional skills and experience. But it’s a mistake to forgo asking this question, as it will ultimately decide if the candidate is a good fit for your organization.

Candidates who started bad-mouthing their previous employers when probed indicates clear red flags of unprofessionalism. If they are terminated by the companies, it is prudent to investigate the causes before making a decision.

Of course, it will be ideal if the candidates have contributed their fair share to the company and they are now looking for better growth opportunities. Ultimately, the judgment of the recruiter is key in keeping problematics candidate away.

Bottom Line

In the end, you’ll want to make every interview question count, and you’ll want to validate with the candidate’s references if possible. Making a bad hire is a costly decision for most companies. You’ll want a sales representative who increases the profit of your business, and not a liability that a company can do without.

What’s your experience with job interviews? Do you have another great question to ask?

About the Author:

Brandon Stapper is an entrepreneur and investor. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs, an industry leading graphic design, print, and sign business with multiple locations throughout the United States. At 20 years old, with no formal education and only a few hundred dollars, Stapper turned a $400 custom decal machine in a garage into an international printing and signage powerhouse.

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