4 Must-Ask Interview Questions for a New Sales Rep Position
How do you know that a potential employer will value your work — and compensate you fairly? Christian Borrelli, VP of Sales, CaptivateIQ has some thoughts:
The current hiring market for sales reps is changing rapidly. Under unprecedented market pressures, employers are fighting to capture top talent while employees seek to identify the best opportunity for growth and success.
In this job market, both parties need to come to a decision quickly to avoid losing out on an ideal match. Before each interview, candidates must develop a targeted list of questions that can help them determine whether a position is worth their time and attention. Incoming sales reps should know in advance how their work will be tracked, evaluated, and compensated — and an
interview offers the perfect opportunity to get answers to those questions.
As a sales leader, I’ve been on the other side of the desk for hundreds of sales interviews. So here are four simple questions that can help candidates understand whether a job offer is fool’s gold or the real deal.
1. What does the compensation plan look like?
At the end of the day, no single factor is more important in a job offer than compensation. By clarifying the compensation structure upfront, you get a sense of the job’s economics and whether they meet your needs and expectations. For example, is the base salary enough to meet your basic living expenses? Or do you run the risk of not being able to pay rent during a slow month?
Discussing compensation structure isn’t just a matter of understanding base salary versus commission. Candidates should also use this question to understand how commissions are calculated. Is the company’s commission structure easy to understand, or is it a byzantine calculation that leaves you guessing at what your paycheck will be at the end of each period? Is the quota associated with the compensation plan attainable, and what do accelerators look like above the quota? These questions can all help the candidate gain a clearer picture of what they’ll actually be earning for their hard work.
2. What tools do the sales team use daily?
In our increasingly digital world, sales teams can succeed or fail based on the tools and tech at their disposal. When a company invests in high-quality solutions for their sales units, they’re demonstrating an awareness that a motivated, high-functioning sales team can serve as an engine for the entire company. A potential employer should be able to
speak about the tools their sales teams use and how those tools make a difference in their performance.
As you approach an interview, make a list of the tools you need to succeed. Whether that’s a scheduling tool, sales enablement solution, or a platform to track quotas and on-target earnings, you’ll want to understand the caliber of tools at your disposal and how much the company invests in the long-term success of salespeople.
3. How do you communicate payouts?
When done well, sales compensation can motivate a team to drive substantial business growth and lead to efficient, sustainable, and repeatable processes. A key aspect of effective sales compensation is communicating payouts — specifying exactly how much a sales rep gets paid and for what activity. This is usually done via a payout statement. When asking how the company communicates payouts, the candidate could hear answers ranging from complete transparency — tracked in a centralized system and listed as line items that can be traced back to a specific deal in each payout statement — to a black box, where all commissions roll up in a single inscrutable paystub. The differences here will have a long-term impact on team satisfaction and performance, and it’s worth finding a solution that offers complete transparency.
4. Is there a way for me to verify commissions?
In an ideal world, all employees are compensated fairly and accountants never make mistakes in payroll. However, the reality is less than perfect, and even the most well-meaning and well-trained finance professionals can make a mistake when calculating commissions or paying employees.
Asking whether it’s possible to verify commissions and expected payouts can immediately reveal whether a company will be open and transparent about sales compensation. If the interviewer responds that you can simply get answers from the finance team, that should be a red flag that you’ll have difficulty getting a straight answer. On the other hand, if the company uses a dedicated, trustworthy system to track and verify commission figures, it’s more likely that you’ve found a worthwhile opportunity.
Taken together, these four questions determine whether a potential employer is willing to be transparent with their sales teams and invest in their success. In this unparalleled market for job seekers, it’s worth drilling down into details with each prospective employer. If you find the right opportunity now, you may be too busy counting your money to notice when the next Great Resignation rattles the industry.