1. How important is money to you?

This attitude simply means the rep isn't suited for sales management. Better steer a primarily money-motivated salesperson to a new territory or another opportunity at the individual contributor level rather than promote them to management.

2. What made you want to get into sales?

Commission, while perhaps part of the motivation, is not a great response to this question.

3. How comfortable are you with data analysis?

Reps generally only care about one number: their quota. Keeping on top of pipeline and win rate is also important ... as these metrics pertain to their quota. It's all quota, all the time.

But when a rep is promoted to management, they must produce forecasts and reports that analyze a variety of metrics across the entire team. While a sales manager doesn't need to be a data analysis pro, they do need to have some familiarity with and inclination for crunching numbers and spotting trends. Beware of candidates that express active revulsion for data analysis.

4. What motivates you, and Why?

Money, achievement, helping customers, being
#1 -- there are a lot of potential answers to this question. What makes a good answer vs. a bad one will hinge on your company culture. For instance, if teamwork is paramount within your sales team, a candidate who is driven by internal competition might not be a great fit.

5. When do you stop pursuing a client?

The right answer here will depend on your company's process, but in general, the more tenacious and persistent a rep is willing to be, the better. Trish Bertuzzi, founder of The Bridge Group, recommends six to eight attempts before throwing in the towel.

6. Can you please explain something to me?

While this technically isn't a question, it's important to assess whether the candidate has a helpful demeanor.

7. Have you ever turned a prospect away? If so, why?

Selling to everyone and anyone -- even if a salesperson knows it's not in the prospect's best interest -- is a recipe for disaster. Make sure your candidate is comfortable with turning business away if the potential customer isn't a good fit.

8. What do you think motivates reps the most?

This is a bit of a trick question, but it's an important one. The best sales managers know that motivation is personal. While money might drive one rep to go the extra mile, another might be inspired by a development opportunity or creative contest. The candidate who can navigate the trick and get to the right answer -- in this case, "it depends on the rep" -- possesses the motivational ability to lead a sales team to success.

9. How comfortable are you with technology?

Sales managers also act as CRM sheriffs, ensuring all reps are using the system properly. CRM aside, sales managers are also involved in the vetting, selection, and deployment of new sales tools. While sales manager candidates don't need to be computer whizzes, some technological savvy is necessary.

10. What are some of your favorite questions to ask prospects?

Salespeople today should be asking questions more than making pitches. Open-ended questions that help a rep thoroughly understand a prospect's needs are as good as gold.

Download Interview PDF