A Refreshing Approach To Sales Interviews
An interview is always a nerve-racking time, I personally think those nerves are amplified in a sales role, where it is assumed that because you ‘sell’ you will be good at selling yourself.
In my experience, sales interviews are a linear process: “tell us about you”, “why are you interested in this role”, “what’s your experience” should we tell you a bit about us?’ …and then, after interrogation, you’ll be invited back to present why you’d be good at the role, and how you propose to help the company hit its revenue targets.
In an SDR role-level interview, this presentation might be replaced with a ‘leaving a voicemail’ challenge. I’m not complaining about this interview process, I definitely think it has its place, but today I wanted to share my positive experience of using the Allego platform alongside sales role play in my interview here (shameless plug).
Let’s start with the outcome. The whole point of using role play in an interview is for the interviewer to get insight into the candidate’s current skill set, and how receptive they are to being coached in the future. We practice what we preach and very much have a culture of coaching one another as much as possible! We firmly believe in a lifetime learning mindset, always fine-tuning, and developing new skills in our craft, and therefore if someone isn’t coachable, this is a good time to flag it as it may become an issue later on.
When I interviewed here at Allego, I took part in a role playing challenge (we call them Scenario Challenges), and we used Allego to assess how coachable I am, and also review my current skill set. Firstly, we discussed coaching, and why it is so important to have an ‘always learning’ mindset in a sales role. Then we set the scene for the role-play. We pulled up a Linkedin profile of someone and used this as the start of our narrative. The story so far was Joe managed a team of 15, desk-based sales reps. He’d been in his role for six months. He’d been onto our website that morning and downloaded content, my job was to ring him, qualify the lead, and convert him to a prospect by booking a discovery call.
I took a couple of minutes to decide on my approach, and I then went into another room and called using the dialler to call the ‘lead’. We then ran through a full role-play conversation.
We then jumped into the Allego product and began directing my call.
- How did I think the call went?
- What did I think I did well?
- What would I change if I were to call again?
Then my interviewer gave their feedback, matching my own self-reflections, but building on them with insights that you simply miss when self-assessing.
We then jumped into Allego. We looked at my Talk vs. Listening time, keywords used on the call, number of switches (how often the conversation goes back and forth), and listened back to a couple of key sections.
My interviewer advised me how I could position a couple of key areas of my call better (you don’t want to give too many actionable points all at once – they lose their impact)… and we went again.
Back into the room next door I went, reminded myself of the key changes I needed to make, loaded up the dialler, and we tried again!. This time, the call felt much more natural.
The improvements in my call were immediately noticeable, which is a great feeling!
We went back through the same questions again, this time focusing more on what it had been noticed I had worked on. We discussed the difference in calls. Then jumped back into Allego to look at my insights––my Speaking vs. Listening ratio had dropped, my call had many more switches and I’d stopped saying the word ‘cool’ (thank goodness).
This is such a great exercise to do during an interview for both the candidate and the employer. I personally left feeling I understood how I would be managed and coached in the role, I understood the supportive ‘safe’ coaching environment I would be joining, and felt ultimately this was a place for me to really develop my sales skills.
For my interviewer, they had proof that under pressure I could perform and accept constructive criticism and feedback, understand it, and immediately take action on it. In other words, I’m open to coaching.
I’m not sure you can get this level of confidence in your insights in your new hire without using role play in your sales interview.
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