One of the sure ways of determining the professional level of a sales manager is to assess his or her professional competencies. Special tasks and case studies can help identify the strengths and weaknesses of any seller. They can be applied at the stage of candidate selection and to the employees that already work in the Sales Department. So let's look at the list of core competencies:
Naturally, every company aims to attract new customers. If the sales manager claims be an active seller, it is important to find out how he or she expands the customer base? Where does the manager look for new customers, what are his or her methods of working with information? He does the manager determine the decision-maker in a company and interact with this person?
A good seller will give you a plan of action to attract new customers. Ideally, it will identify a potential client base, based on the specifics of the company, its products or services; the seller should show you where he or she is looking for clients; how he or she works with the obtained information and contacts the decision-makers.
It is possible that your candidate is a natural in selling: he or she can sell snow to an Eskimo or an umbrella to a fish. But even under this condition, it is important to know at what level he owns the technology of sales. In other words, how he sells the goods: intuitively or according to a particular technology.
Ask the candidate about the stages of a sale. If he or she describes them confidently, step by step, with real examples, based on personal experience in the field of sales, you can safely say: the person has the right skills.
Also, you can ask the candidate to assess his or her own knowledge, for example, on a scale from 1 to 5.
Find out how useful a particular sales manager is in your company, based on his or her previous experience. Ask the candidate the following questions:
Such questions are aimed at clarifying the real extent of manager’s efficiency. If he or she answers questions clearly and thoroughly, most likely, the performance of the employee on the previous place of work was really high.
A good manager usually has a desire to grow and develop in the professional field. Therefore, you must determine whether the candidate wants to conquer new heights in sales. The following questions will help you with that:
Give the candidate a brief description of the product or service your company sells and the description of an average customer (needs, income, status, etc.). Then ask the Manager, which personal qualities, in his view, would the customer expect from the seller?
After that, there can be two possible situations. In the first case, the applicant will use characteristics corresponding to the company – reliability, availability, reasonable price of the product, etc. Thus, he or she will focus on the external qualities of the company without naming the competencies that he or she is supposed to demonstrate as a sales manager. Well, such a candidate has a lot to learn
In the second case, the candidate will name competence, diligence, accuracy, quick responding, and other characteristics inherent in a seller. If get this answer, congratulations, the candidate is really experienced in the sales field.
Ask the candidate which of these qualities, strengths, and weaknesses he or she has. What personality trait can attract a client to him or her? These questions will help you to understand the level of competence.
Ask the manager to solve the following problem: a customer asks for a discount that the company is unable to provide.
An experienced manager will offer 3 to 5 options along the following lines:
This case allows identifying the variability and flexibility of seller’s thinking process, knowledge of sales, the ability of the manager to make contact and search for innovative solutions.
Invite the manager to solve this problem: some product was delivered too late but it out of sales manager’s control. However, the claim was addressed to him or her. With this case, you can evaluate the skills of the manager as a negotiator, his or her ability to work with claims and the ability to resolve conflicts in general.
A good seller will provide the scheme of action similar to the following one:
Invite the manager to resolve the following situation: the client looks at prices and says "I am not sure, it is too expensive." How will candidate convince the customer to make a purchase?
The manager must listen to the objections of the buyer, take them into account, and ask clarifying questions. Only after that, the manager can give arguments in favor of the product of the company. He or she can say, "You're right, the issue of the price is really important for both you and our company. Can you, please, clarify if you compare with some other price or are there other reasons?" Depending on the answer, the manager must give 2-3 arguments in favor of your company's product.
To find out whether the candidate possesses this competence, ask the manager to recall the situation when a client wanted too much. Which side did the manager take in this situation? How did he or she resolve the issue? Do these methods fit into the framework of corporate ethics of your company?
A good sales manager will note that it is impossible to immediately identify client’s potential. We can only assume because situations can very different. We can make assumptions based on the answers to manager’s questions, buyer’s reactions, remarks, appearance, etc.