Questions to Ask and What to Look For
A few salespeople exceed goals time after time while many do not. What separates the elite from the rest? And how can you identify these differences – some not apparent on the surface – before you hire your next salesperson?
A key to selling success is appropriately leading conversations with prospective clients to proactively move them forward in the sales process and performing effective follow-up. So use the interview and post-interview interactions with the sales candidate as a gauge of how he/she would handle selling to your senior living prospect.
Is he or she:
- Engaging you in a conversation or talking at you?
- Asking discovery questions that define what your community does, how you do it, why you do it that way, what you are looking for in a salesperson – before telling you all about themselves and how they can help you sell better?
- Listening to your answers and incorporating what he/she learns in how he/she frames a response?
- Building trust with you, positioning himself or herself as a valuable resource?
- Effectively closing by soliciting what your next steps and decision-making timeframe are?
To reveal the following 5 critical pieces of information, be sure to ask candidates about the following areas:
1. Why candidate wants to be in sales
- You have, for most of your career, held positions that are heavily focused on sales achievement. Why do you want to continue to pursue positions in sales?
- Describe what makes a “great day” for you in a sales position.
- Explain a customer you have had who presented a difficult objection. How did you overcome the objection and close the sale?
- Sales positions, as you know, require goal achievement and compensation based on that achievement. How does having part of your earnings based on commission drive you or motivate you to achieve?
2. For someone without industry experience — motivation for changing industries, understanding of this industry, commitment to the change
- Do you have any personal experience with CCRCs? (ie visited one, had relatives who lived in one)
- Why do you want to sell in this industry?
- It takes a certain kind of person to desire to work with our prospective residents. Why do you want to work with seniors?
- Explain how your work in the __________ industry might correlate to this position.
3. Questions that measure insight regarding new normal for our industry, measure depth and breadth of key knowledge, measure tactical thinking skills, reveal personal preparation for the interview regarding community details available on the Web and by mail, and reveal an understanding of the local market
- How would you describe the most critical component of your role from your prospect’s perspective?
- Do you think people are inquiring for the same reasons they did 5 years ago? 10 years? If not, what is different?
- How much do you understand about all other options available to seniors today?
- Explain to me how you would position our community’s financial arrangement (Life Care and Fee-for-Service) against Medicare and/or Medicaid or Long Term Care insurance as a plan for the future.
- What you think is our community’s strongest competitive differential and why?
- Today’s prospective residents, as you may know, have reservations and fears about the economy, home sales, etc. How do you personally manage these objections with prospective residents? Give an example of a recent difficult close.
4. Tactical and strategic understanding of sales process, measuring progress, identifying strengths and weaknesses, understanding of REPs or other lead tracking system
- How do you strategize contact with a prospect?
- Describe what you do when you are ready to make contact with prospects.
- Describe what you do when you are ready to meet with a prospect.
- Describe what our sales cycle means to you.
- What kinds of metrics have you used to measure your personal progress in the past?
- In a sales position, as you know, quality follow-up is so critical. What tools have you used in previous positions to keep track of all of your follow-up, the results of follow-up and future scheduled activities?
- Describe how you use the database to identify personal strengths and challenges.
5. Expectations regarding sales, understanding of today’s client, salesperson’s opinion of his/her own ability, how seriously they take this process and purpose, and if they think this is easy or they are looking for a personal challenge and growth as a sales professional
- Describe your ideal prospect.
- What areas of sales do you find most rewarding?
- What is your current sales career goal?
- And finally – be sure your candidate provides excellent follow-up. Thank you phone calls, personal notes (by “snail mail”) and e-mails are signs of good sales practices and true desire for the position.
Integrating these questions and techniques into your interviewing process will separate the best sales candidates from the rest. And it will lead you to a level of comfort in your hiring decision indicative of the comfort a senior living prospect will find as he/she decides to select your community.
For help in hiring, training and mentoring the best salespeople, call Cathy Martin, President, Hamlyn Senior Marketing, LLC @ 856-857-0800.