8 Interview Questions for Your VP of Sales
So, you’re looking to hire a VP of Sales for your IT staffing organization. The VP of Sales plays one of the most important roles in the organization because he or she is responsible for some very important assets: employees, customers and revenue. If you haven’t already I suggest you first read my blog titled What a VP of Sales Does in an IT Staffing Firm. After that you may also want to check out my article on What Type of Sales VP to Hire for Your IT Staffing Firm.
Assuming you have read both of those articles than I have just one other suggestion before actually going out and hiring a VP of Sales. And this is very important especially if this will be the first VP of Sales you have ever hired. You (business owner/founder/CEO) need to hire and develop 2-3 sales reps and make them successful before you hire your Sales VP. You might be saying to yourself, “Why would I do that? Isn’t that why I'm hiring a VP of Sales?” The answer is yes and no. Yes, you want to hire your VP of Sales to hire sales reps and develop, mentor and train them into superstars. However, if you don’t hire and train your first couple of reps than you will never know what you are hiring. You won't be able to tell if a candidate is blowing smoke in the interview or actually knows what they're talking about. And besides, your new VP of Sales is going to need people to lead anyway.
Here are some great screening questions to ask of candidates you’re considering for your VP of Sales role.
- Based on what you know about our organization, how big of sales team do you think we need right now? If they can’t answer this question, pass on the candidate. A VP level candidate should know this.
- Walk me through the steps of the sales process that you’re accustomed to. If the sales process they’re accustomed to or experienced and comfortable with is not similar in complexity (number of decision makers, length) pass on the candidate.
- Tell me about how you built your most recent sales teams. If they can’t describe in detail what steps they took to build and assemble their sales teams, that should give you pause. How will they do it for your organization? You don't want them learning on your dime you do you?
- What are you favorite sales tools and how have they helped you in managing your sales teams in the past? If they can’t answer this or speak to specific sales tools they are not a real VP candidate. Good candidates should be able to speak at length about this.
- Who do you know today that would come join you and your sales team? Being a strong a recruiter is a key ingredient for any successful Sales VP. If they don’t have anyone in mind or sound unsure of themselves, you should be unsure of them as well. A strong candidate should have plenty of people to choose from based on their past experience and the teams they have built in the past.
- How will we beat our competitors? What is your plan and strategy? Does he or she have a plan? Do they sound confident in it? Do you believe it will work? Can they site examples of where and how this has worked in the past? Are they prepared and will to make tweaks? What worked in the past is not a guarantee for future success. The world is evolving, buyer behavior is changing, sales leaders must be agile and nimble.
- What will top line revenue and bottom line contribution look like 6 months after I hire you? There is no exact right answer to this. But have them explain to you what will happen after they hire you. You want to hear their vision.
- How should sales and marketing work together? This will help determine if your candidate understands lead generation and how to nurture leads through a funnel. It will also tell if what experience they have working with a marketing team.
These questions are not all of the questions you need to be asking but I do know they will generate some lively and engaging dialog to help you determine if you're on to something. Be sure to keep an eye on the questions your candidate asks you as well as how they react to your's. Did they ask smart, well thought out questions about the company's vision, core values and leadership? Or did the candidate ask the same types of questions you hear from any other candidate?
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.