The TSB Sales Attributes Interviewing Guide

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
May 6, 2010

Yesterday I posted The TSB Success Attributes Interviewing Guide. It contains some tough questions that can help you determine that a sales person possesses the attributes that underlie success in any endeavor (even though they are geared towards sales).

These questions provide a similar ability to help determine if a salesperson has the underlying attributes that lead to success in sales.


    1. Do you find it easier to acquire appointments with potential clients or to sell once you are in front of the client?

    1. How do you obtain the first commitment from a prospect to meet and explore working together? Can you share with me the language that you use?

    1. How do you obtain a commitment from a prospect to move a deal forward? What kind of language might you use to do so?

    1. How do you know when is it okay to ask for a commitment from a prospective client? How do you know when it is not?

    1. What do you do when a client doesn’t agree to commit to moving forward with you?

    1. What is your favorite close?

    1. What is the worst closing language a salesperson could use and why?


    1. How do you differentiate yourself from other salespeople in the space where you work now (or where you have worked in the past).

    1. How do you help a client differentiate your offering from other similar offerings?


    1. What are your favorite prospecting methods and why?

    1. What are your least favorite prospecting methods and why?

    1. How did you identify and obtain appointments with the largest three wins in your last sales position?

    1. How much time, ideally, should a salesperson spend prospecting each week?

    1. When is it most difficult to prospect and why?

    1. Share with me the language you would use to schedule an appointment with the biggest prospect you are pursuing in your present (or last) position?

Business Acumen

    1. What general business courses have you taken?

    1. What areas of business, outside of sales, do feel you have the most competency and understanding? How did you gain that competency?

    1. Tell me some of the fundamental business problems your current (or past) clients have had and how you were able to help them with those problems or challenges? What were the critical metrics used to measure the performance gains or improvements?


    1. Are you naturally curious, and if so, give me some examples of what you are curious about and why?

    1. What questions do you ask a client to get them to speak openly to you about their business challenges, problems and opportunities?

    1. Is it ever okay to present when you haven’t had an opportunity to complete a reasonably thorough needs-analysis or diagnostic?

    1. How do you acquire information from a prospective client who isn’t willing to share with you?


    1. Can you share a story with me of how you helped a client out of a bad situation and how you were able to do so?

    1. How do you tell a story and present so that you are sure it includes the client’s vision?

    1. How do you manage a client’s expectations?


    1. How do you ensure that you acquire a fair deal for the company you work for when you negotiate?

    1. How do you ensure that your client gets a fair deal?

    1. Tell me about a time when you were required to negotiate a difficult deal with a client?

    1. What is the most powerful choice available to a salesperson when negotiating?

Change Management

    1. Tell me about a client that bought what you sold and then had trouble executing the solution.

    1. How do you move obstacles to change within your client’s company?

    1. How do you move the obstacles to change within your own organization?

    1. How do you deal with conflicting interests within your client’s company? Within your own?


    1. Tell me about a time that you had to lead a team and what was the outcome?

    1. What attributes do you believe a leader should possess and why?

    1. Who do you believe is a great leader and why?

    1. Why do salespeople need leadership skills?

Managing Outcomes

    1. What is it you presently sell? (or, What is that you most recently sold?) What are you really selling?

    1. After a sales is made, who is responsible for ensuring that the client achieves the outcome that you sold? Why?

    1. What is the first thing you do when there is a delivery or execution failure?

    1. How do you ensure your operations and delivery team keeps the promises that you have made?

    1. Is trust the most important attribute a salesperson can possess? Why or why not?


It is always challenging to interview salespeople to determine whether or not they have the abilities necessary to sell. This hiring guide might help you indentify your next sales superstar, or prevent a serious hiring mistake. If you already sell, answering these questions can help you identify the skills you need to develop.

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 6, 2010
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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