The coronavirus pandemic changed the way sales organizations do business, and it’s clear these changes will stay with us for at least the near future, if not forever. One of these changes as been the need to interview and hire sales reps who can not only work remotely, but they also must know how to sell remotely. In addition to the usual process of finding the right fit for your team, managers need to look for the skills and traits that help make for successful remote sales pros. Here are several tips to help sales managers interview and hire the best remote salespeople:
Experience as a Self-Starter
One of the most important traits is their ability as a self-starter. Candidates may have a track record of success, but there can be a variety of reasons for this, and it doesn’t mean they’re a shoo-in for the position you’re trying to fill. To find the right remote sales pro, ask them about specific initiatives they’ve undertaken that proved successful. Look for words like “created,” “initiated,” “founded,” “started,” ”implemented” as these can indicate a candidate who is a self-starter. Conversely, note words like “managed,” “supervised,” or “maintained.” While managerial or supervisory experience can be helpful, it does not necessarily show initiative, drive, or their ability as a self-starter.
During the interview process, pay close attention to the way your applicant communicates. This includes email etiquette, which ideally should be courteous, timely, professional, yet personable.
But also note how the candidate communicates verbally, how they sound on the phone and appear via video conference. Without the benefit of being face-to-face with a client, things like voice inflection and pitch increase in importance. How the candidate sells him or herself to you might be an indication how they’ll communicate with clients.
Also pay attention to the candidate’s inquisitive nature. The interviewee should be engaging and able to carry a conversation. To get a sense of their abilities, ask open-ended questions to let them speak freely, such as, “Tell me about your professional background and how it benefits this role in particular.”
Technology & Environment
During the interview, ask about their skill level with technology. Remote salespeople do not need to be IT specialists, but it’s helpful if they can troubleshoot on their own. Ask about their hardware, which videoconferencing platforms they are most comfortable with, and how they feel about using other platforms at a client’s request. Inquire about their use of conferencing tools, such as shared screen, breakout rooms, and chat, as this provides insight into their style. Also, it’s essential to understand remote team members’ experience using and updating a CRM and their proficiency with sales decks and PowerPoints.
Try to learn more about their “home office” environment to which no doubt you’ll get a glimpse during the interview process. Pay particular attention to how your candidate stages their presence and appearance, including the lighting and décor, and if they minimize audio and visual distractions. If distractions occur during the interview process, chances are they may also happen during sales presentations with clients.
When hiring remote sales professionals, ask about their motivation and drive, their ability to work autonomously. Be upfront about working with minimal office interaction. Will they miss watercooler conversations with co-workers and late nights eating takeout as the team prepares a presentation? Will this be a full-time transition to virtual selling for them? Have they struggled with “Zoom Fatigue” in a past role? While all sales pros must be proficient with virtual and working remotely, full-time remote work is not for everyone.
Of course, as with any new hire, remote salespeople must fit your established corporate culture. Just because they will work remotely shouldn’t make them outliers or renegades removed from the values and beliefs on which your organization stands and your team members believe. Though it may take additional time for remote salespeople to acclimate to your culture, it’s essential remote sales pros be self-motivating and share the values and work ethic of your organization. They must also possess the personal qualities that will help them engage and interact remotely as well with team members as they must with prospects and clients.