Sales Interview Questions for Account Executives

11-22-2018

[ This article is inspired by the commentary from a thread composed by members of the Modern Sales Pros community — an exclusive, invite-only, group of sales operations, enablement, management, and leadership experts. We are sponsoring membership for any of our readers who want to join the community — apply for community membership here and put us “MoData” down as your sponsor. ]


” Making a bad hire in sales is almost always worse than not hiring enough people.”

 

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In any B2B sales organization, Account Executives (AEs) play a pivotal role in maintaining and renewing your organization’s most profitable accounts. Your AE will work on large accounts and the aforementioned role is a huge investment for the organization. Top AEs are constantly learning, making connections, creating impact by being the subject matter expert. Without an iota of doubt, it is pertinent that you hire the right talent for this important role.

 

Say, your team has finished interviewing the right candidate with perfect qualifications, experience,  strategic know-how and technical expertise that you need in your next AE.

 

All operational and situational questions in this long interview process were answered confidently like a pro, but you are still not sure.

 

You might want to reject the AE candidate. The reason can be grouped into two categories- culture and behavioral mismatch.

 

Let’s look at both.

 

Cultural Issues

 

Culture is the number one determinant in making any business successful. It’s essential that you unearth any “culture-fit” issues via specific sales interview questions as early in the process as you can. Cultural issues could stem from one of the following:

 

1) Startup culture versus Big corporations culture

It’s hard to jump and adapt from one to another. Big corporations have already established their name and product in the market. They follow a verified and tested sales structure, backed with extensive training and historical data. Whereas, startups don’t have any such structure. The team learns from customer feedback, research, founder’s experience, and competitor’s strategies. In a startup, everyone is expected to wear different hats, as and when time demands.

 

If yours is a startup, it is extremely desirable to hire someone from the startup environment to avoid conflict and waste of resources in the future.

A well-designed set of sales interview questions can help you identify if an AE candidate is too entrenched with her previous big corporation employer to make the mental shift to an ad-hoc startup culture.

2) Study the track record

When the candidates come for the interview, you’d expect them to know most of the important details about your business. Similarly, you need to do due diligence on the prospective employees and study their track record through LinkedIn, social media, resume references etc. You don’t want to hire someone whose values and personality are not compatible with that of your organization’s.

 

There is no point in wasting time and energy on such candidates who have a track record of being discriminating and gender biased.

It’s very hard even for seasoned interviewers to uncover such biases during a relatively short interview process even with well-designed set of sales interview questions. Hence studying the track record is very important.

Behavioral Issues

 

There are a lot of behavioral questions that you would have prepared and asked the candidate but certain behavioral issues can’t be assessed through regular question-answer sessions.

Don’t hesitate to arrange for a role play meeting. This will give you enough insight into the candidate’s interpersonal and negotiation skills. Have the candidate interact with decision makers and non-decision makers too in order to judge the maturity and professionalism.

 

A good Account Executive will not discriminate and will pitch with equal enthusiasm and attention to both the influencers and to someone lower down the ladder.

 

The feedback from both the parties will help you make a better decision on the prospective employee.

 

As a founder of your organization, it’s your responsibility to hire the right candidate, that fits your business and culture, especially in the upper echelon.

 

Related Posts: 

  1. A few tips to optimize your sales process.
  2. How to improve the efficiency of your sales process.

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