Industry Insights Report: How to Hire Motivated Salespeople

Your sales candidate says all the right things, but is she truly motivated? Find out how to tell in this week’s Industry Insights Report.

February 3, 2017

  • hiring-for-sales

If there’s one challenge all sales leaders can identify with, no matter how different the industry or deal size, it’s staffing. With average YOY turnover at more than 25% and with the cost of replacing an inside sales employee starting at $75,000 (with some B2B replacement costs breaking the $1M mark), this isn’t just a pervasive challenge. It’s an expensive challenge.

In her recent article, How Your B2B Startup Can Build A World-Class Enterprise Sales Team, Node founder Falon Fatemi explained why it’s vital to hire motivated people and then “motivate the motivated.” While she’s talking about filling a need for a specific circumstance, there’s little question that every sales leader would welcome the attributes she describes.

“A hunger to learn and grow is a must for any enterprise salesperson, but particularly for those at startups,” says Fatemi. “Young companies simply don’t have the resources of a more established company and you need someone who’s going to figure things out herself. You need a smart, driven individual who’s willing to seek out tools, test out processes, and provide consistent feedback.”

But the question that continues to boggle sales leaders, even those who take painstaking steps to ensure the right fit, is this: How can you tell who is truly motivated and who isn’t?

Show Me Precisely How Motivated You Are

Fatemi uses specifics to spot intrinsic motivation during an interview. “When they say they’re working to become a manager, I ask how they’re working toward it. When they tell me they’re reading to learn about the market, I ask what they’re reading and how they’re applying the information,” she says.

The Most Important Interview Question of All Time

Best-selling author and LinkedIn influencer Lou Adler also had specificity in mind when devising “the most important interview question of all time.” Although Adler’s question is intended to tell whether a candidate will be motivated to perform the described job description in all fields, not just sales, it’s one that can give sales leaders a deeper understanding of a potential hire’s work habits.

Adler’s question is, “What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far?”

But he doesn’t stop there – this is just the first of many questions. Adler goes on to list about 20 follow-ups, from “describe the environment and resources” to “what would you do differently if you could do it again?” to “what type of formal recognition did you receive?”

You Say You’re Motivated, But Are You Resilient?

Executive coach Kristi Hedges recommends focusing a few interview questions on failure. “Motivation is related to resiliency, since it helps someone stay focused and positive despite the inevitable obstacles,” says Hedges. “In the interview, ask questions about failure and listen closely to the self-awareness of the responses.”

Similar to Fatemi and Adler, the follow up questions Hedges lists are meant to flush out specifics from the candidate: “How did you push through the challenges?” “What’s the lowest point you’ve had at work, and what did you do?”

Are fresh insights good for motivation? Subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog and find out.