If you are looking to hire a sales rep, you should be prepared to ask the pertinent questions that will help you make a good decision.
In my eGuide, ‘How to Find, Recruit and Manage Sales Reps‘, I included a list of questions that I felt every sales rep should answer when approached by a producer looking for sales representation:
Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Rep
- How many years in business?
- Exact territory including states only covered in part?
- Types of stores called on? (Size, category… get SPECIFICS!)
- Other lines (including possibly competitive) they represent?
- Operate space in a gift mart?
- Full-time or part-time on the road?
- Part of a formal or informal rep “group”?
- Exhibit at gift trade shows? (Which ones? Regularly?)
- Operate a wholesale web site? URL?
- References? Testimonial letters?
Since then, I have become involved with RepRight which is a network for producers to find independent sales reps. As part of their services, the offer tips and suggestions for hiring sales reps. Here is their list of questions to ask a potential rep:
Great Interview Questions for Independent Sales Rep Candidates (original article is no longer posted)
- The past few years have been economically difficult for most sales reps. How have you handled the economic downturn?
- Tell me about an average day for you in your current position or most recent position. (You’ll certainly hear about the sales calls the rep makes. That’s good. But what else do you hear about? What sort of organizational skills are important enough to the rep that he tells you about them? How about follow up with pipeline prospect? How about administrative management? A good sales rep integrates all of these activities each day. Listen for the whole package).
- If your candidate is an experienced independent sales rep, ask for his past year total sales volume and total commission amount. This is a personal question. Don’t ask it lightly; make sure that you reserve this questions for reps who you like well enough to invite to move forward. Whatever the answer, ask the rep to explain this:
* How does it compare to his planned revenue
* If he’s done well, then how will he have time to carve out time to serve your product as well?
* What’s the sales cycle of his current line(s)? How does that compare to your sales cycle? Does that work for the rep?
* If he carries your line, will he sell it to his existing client base (that makes it an Add-on line) or will he prospect with the line, search for new customers with whom he does not have a current line?
Time have definitely been challenging for sales reps, and certainly, you will want to know more about your reps and what they can do for their products or line of products.