Prospecting is the lifeblood of businesses. Nowhere is that role more critical than with a sales development representative (SDR). Therefore, we came up with 15 interview questions to ask your potential SDR to find out if you have the right person for the job.
A word of caution first. These are not your ordinary “what is your experience” type questions. Instead, these questions test them on the spot to determine their sales skill and motivation to work for your company, so that you only hire people who match your needs.
Top 15 SDR Interview Questions
1. How do you deal with rejection from a prospect?
Do you want SDR’s that ball up in a corner every time someone tells them no? I hope not!
HubSpot restated the old adage that in sales you need to “fall down seven times, and stand up eight.” How many times will your SDR stand up?
Response to look for: One of the best answers would be: “No could mean not now. If it made sense to keep them in my pipeline, I would continue to follow up with them.” Be sure to read our last article – How Sales Reps Can Get to Yes Despite the Constant Barrage of No’s.
2. What is your main motivation as a sales professional?
While being hungry for money is great, your SDR should have a balanced approach. Too greedy and they might not be ethical in how they sell your product. Not interested in your product, and they probably cannot sell enough of your product.
Response to look for: People who are genuinely excited by your brand and who want to be a part of its growth.
3. What does your sales process look like?
Blank stares are not a good sign. If the SDR does not have a solid idea of what their sales process looks like, you are either going to have to provide that sales process or pray they can work miracles on the phone.
Response to look for: A seasoned sales professional should be able to riffle off their typical process. It doesn’t have to fit your company’s process exactly. The fact that they have a system that works for them is a great sign.
4. Tell me about your worst sales call ever?
Everyone always wants to talk about their wins. However, their losses and worst moments are generally the biggest sales lessons. You can learn about their weaknesses and strengths from the times that tested them the most.
Response to look for: Honesty is the best policy. People who are candid with their horrendous failures are trustworthy and admirable. It also shows a lack of insecurity and well-roundedness.
5. Sell me this pencil!
IBM had a famous pencil question. During the interview, they would ask candidates how they would sell a random pencil to the interviewer. This is the same question made popular in the Wolf of Wall Street.
Response to look for: This is simply a test of the person’s ability to think fast on the spot. You’ll know when you’ve hit a winner :). Never let this question be the end-all-be-all question. You’ll still want to determine if the person will be a good fit with your company and culture.
6. Do you feel comfortable cold-calling?
You do not want someone who THINKS they might be able to handle cold calling. You want the SDR who KNOWS they can.
Wishy-washy answers and lukewarm responses about cold calling might indicate a motivation problem down the line.
Response to look for: This is simply a sanity check that just has to be asked. If there is any hesitation or rambling in their answer – you should probably count them out.
7. What makes you uncomfortable in sales?
The more you push your comfort level, the more you stay hungry. Steve Jobs said, “Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish!” When you are hungry and foolish, you learn and grow. That requires you to be a bit uncomfortable.
Response to look for: If they say “nothing”, then you know you have someone not being honest with you. Someone who accepts discomfort and understands that it makes them grow is sales savvy.
8. What was the biggest hurdle to your sales career?
The best sales people were not born that way. They grew into star salespeople. The bigger the hurdle, the better the sales career generally. What was the biggest sales hurdle your interviewee had up to this point?
Response to look for: Is this person a Michael Jordan? Do they fail and get right back into practicing their craft continually? Listen to their story, but pay close attention to how they overcame their hurdle.
9. Why do you want to become part of our team?
Being an SDR means you need to work well with your account executive. That means being able to work in a team environment. Can you SDR be accustomed to being self-motivated, yet still be a team player?
Response to look for: This goes back to trying to find people that are excited to be a part of your brand’s success. You’re essentially trying to build a cult. Is this person a die-hard fan? A potential new cult member? People who work hard for the love of the brand, are naturally team players and great employees.
10. Name one small thing you do for account executives to make the sales easier to close?
If you are an SDR, your job is not only to book appointments. As we mentioned above, you are a team player who must help the account executives close deals.
What personal touches do you add to the sales process to make it easier for the account executives? Some SDR’s might be good at getting the appointment, but not at helping the account executive close the deal. Better to have one grand slam appointment per day than five strikeout leads.
Response to look for: Anything from preparing a brief of the prospects’ pain points, to identifying other key decision makers that need to be won over during the sale. Listen for intelligent, well-thought-out responses for this question.
11. What the most recent thing you’ve learned about selling?
If the last thing someone learned about sales was from reading Death of A Salesman, you might be in trouble.
You want to hire people that are constantly learning and improving themselves. People who don’t spend the time to learn, don’t have the mindset to improve their sales career.
Response to look for: If they answer with tribal knowledge they learned at their last gig – that’s O.K (assuming it’s good information). However, you want to hear a list of books or blogs they rave about. Their passion for those publications should shine through on this question.
12. If you could change one thing about your sales process what would it be?
No one is perfect. If a prospective employee does tell you they are perfect, run. Do not walk, but run to the nearest exit.
It’s natural for people to reflect and do a post-mortem on their last gig. They should have some thoughts on how they could have done things differently.
Response to look for: You’re looking for people who want to constantly improve. Every person can be better than yesterday. If they don’t have an answer, it generally means they’re not interested in improving their craft.
13. Why are you leaving your current position?
If you get a long, drawn out funky answer you have a pretty good idea that something is up. If they are concise and confident in their answer, then that’s a great sign.
Response to look for: Again, look for people who aren’t afraid of expressing failures and feel comfortable telling you their story. They could be looking for more pay, a better product or a better culture as well.
14. Can you leave us a voicemail message right now?
When they leave a voicemail, do they clearly say their name? Do they rush the voicemail? Does your SDR slow down when leaving the phone number? How about stating the number twice?
How we leave voicemail messages is indicative of how we talk on the phone. Plus, if you have them call your phone number to leave a message you have a recording of their sales voice to listen to them again before making a final decision.
Response to look for: This is just another sanity check. If they really blow this test, it will just make it easier to narrow down your choices.
15. You’re charged with booking one sales meeting by tomorrow, how do you do it?
It’s crunch time, and you need to get results. What is the secret sales sauce? Is it hard work and persistence? Are you a planner who studies the best way to get the sale closed?
No one has all the right answers, but you need to know what specific actions they take to book that meeting.
Response to look for: A good sales “development” rep will have a well-developed pipeline that should statistically be able to book appointments all the time. It may take time for them to ramp up, but once it’s rolling, they should have sales meetings book every day of the week.
The questions above not only judge an SDR on their skill level, but how they fit in with your corporate culture. If you have a hard-working SDR blindly calling leads, then they might not be a good fit for an environment that needs qualified prospects. What you’re looking for is a combination of great character, resilience and intelligence.
Let us know in the comment area below what question you liked best for hiring an SDR. Or do you have another question you ask your sales development reps to recruit only the best? Either way, drop us a line.
About the Author
Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.Follow on Twitter More Content by Sam Laber