Illustration of a woman sittiing at a table with a computer holding a phone

Why this matters:

By qualifying leads early in the pipeline, sales professionals can save their organization time and money by ensuring that they’re pursuing only ideal prospects. Successful sales professionals are well aware of this and will have a process for determining early on whether a prospect is likely to convert and whether the relationship will be mutually beneficial.

What to listen for:

  • Variations in the questions, based on the types of sales the candidate has conducted
  • Keen understanding of who the ideal prospects are and why
  • Highly focused and strategic reasoning

Why this matters:

The best sales professionals know what they’re selling, inside and out, and are ready to tackle any objection before they hear it. When they have answers already prepared, they can convey confidence in a product or service — and instill the same confidence in the mind of a prospect.

What to listen for:

  • Indications that the candidate imagines the potential objections before a client meeting and prepares effective responses
  • Mindfulness about acknowledging a customer objection and understanding the cause of it

Why this matters:

To win over a prospect, a good sales professional tailors the pitch according to details about the prospect's business and personal interests. Understanding how the candidate approaches this preparation is important, especially if your company sells complex products or services.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence that the candidate researches a prospect using LinkedIn and other social platforms — not just the target company’s website
  • Ability to absorb recent events and sift industry news to find signals of sales readiness

Why this matters:

Your company may emphasize one task over the other, or it may require a sales professional who can balance both. The ideal candidate is able to use time wisely to build and nurture an effective customer pipeline.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence that the candidate clearly understands the role and can focus on whichever task is prioritized by your company
  • Signs that the candidate can monitor the clock and avoid spending too much time on a particular task

Why this matters:

The influence of social media on buying decisions cannot be overstated. Social selling is a critical tool for organizations of all sizes and types, so a sales professional should feel comfortable in using social media and know which platforms are used by a prospect.

What to listen for:

  • Experience in using social media to hunt for leads, share content, and engage with prospects — or a willingness to learn how
  • Signs that the candidate is comfortable using various social channels
  • Examples of how social media and social content were critical to a win

Why this matters:

While some prospects convert easily, others are more challenging. Difficult prospects can include know-it-alls and people who are aggressive about receiving a discount. Regardless of the circumstance, a top sales professional can put pride aside and focus on winning over a difficult prospect, as long as closing the sale is worth the additional effort.

What to listen for:

  • Ability to describe a situation without becoming defensive, along with the steps taken and the final result (ideally a sale)
  • Signs that the candidate can adapt a sales approach according to the resistance being faced

Why this matters:

Your company’s core values are the foundation of how you do business, guiding the behavior of all employees and shaping their interactions with clients. If a candidate’s values don’t align with your company’s, they probably won’t be happy in the role.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence that the candidate shares your company’s core values, though it's often okay if they don’t match exactly
  • Words such as “honesty” and “patience” that reveal a moral compass and personal pride

Why this matters:

This question reveals a candidate’s ideal working relationship, which will tell you whether they’re the right person for your internal culture. Every sales manager has a different style of working and communicating, and every sales professional has a different personality and expectations — so finding a good match is essential.

What to listen for:

  • Indications that your sales manager's style isn’t at odds with the candidate's description of ideal
  • Evidence that the candidate is self-motivated yet able to take direction
  • Self-reflection about the candidate’s working style

Why this matters:

This question screens for ambition, a key trait among sales professionals. It can also tell you how much awareness a candidate has of your organization and the work it does. If you’re currently rolling out a new product, for example, you could expect the candidate to discuss how it will affect their goals.

What to listen for:

  • An action plan already prepared
  • Readiness to hit the ground running
  • A range of ideas, from major overhaul to simple goal (such as integrating with the company culture)
chatting over desk with laptops and coffee

Contact a sales specialist.

By submitting this form, you agree that we may use the data you provide to contact you with information related to your request/submission and LinkedIn's products and services. If you are a LinkedIn member, you can control the messages you receive from LinkedIn in your settings. If you are a guest, you can unsubscribe from LinkedIn marketing emails at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the email. Your data will be used subject to LinkedIn's Privacy Policy.