An Effective Way To Identify Top Sales People

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

HiredFinding and hiring good people is a challenge in any industry.  However, identifying and hiring people who can become top sales producers is a monumental feat few have been able to achieve with any level of consistency.

However, I have found that this one test, this short role-playing scenario, can help you identify people who have all of the necessary traits that make top producers.  Use this during the interview process and it will give you a deeper insight into the candidate’s personality and help you uncover some diamonds in the rough.

The Concept
This idea is far more sophisticated and modern than the old sales interview role play of, “If you are such a good sales person, then sell me something.”  This role play will help you learn more about the applicant’s disposition in key areas such as integrity and listening skills.  It accomplishes this by posing a challenge to the sales person that is not exactly what it seems.

Below is a generic example of this role play.  Of course you can alter it significantly to fit your industry and selling situation. However, you can use this example as it is with small changes to the wording.

The Role Play
Towards the end of the interview, propose this scenario:

Suppose you sell home fire protection equipment: fire alarms, heat and smoke detectors.  You sell two types:

Type A: Heat detectors that sell for £250 each
Type B: Smoke detectors that sell for £150 each

I am the prospect and during the sales interaction you tell me…

“Mr Prospect, I have done a complete and thorough analysis of your needs.  And I have determined that the only system that will adequately protect you and your family in the event of a fire is four of our heat detectors and two of the smoke models.  This is because you have so much electronic equipment, that a fire is likely to be one that produces little smoke.  So your fire protection system comes to £1,300.”

As the prospect I answer with this objection:

“Well, that looks good.  But it is much more than I had in mind.  I was planning on spending closer to £800, maybe £900 tops.  What can you do for me for that much?” 

How would you handle that objection?

The Answer
Now you have the sales person role play his or her answer to the objection with you.  The key is that the sales person will do whatever he or she can to “sell” you and close the sale (since this is an interview for a sales position).  However, how the sales person goes about answering this objection, speaks volumes about his or her personality, honesty, professionalism and true potential.

Three Responses
You will usually get one of three types of responses to the above role playing objection:

1. The sales person who immediately begins to work the math and discount or change the offer to meet the prospect’s price.

2. The sales person who attempts to get the prospect to come up a little, as he or she slightly lowers the pricing or the offer to find some middle ground.

3. The sales person who refuses to drop the price or alter the offer in any way, and continues to build value and close on the original offer at the original quoted price.

What does each response say about the salesperson?

Check out the next posting on: Nov 11, 2011:
– The Ultimate Test For Hiring Top Sales People

Happy Selling,


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 10 November, 2011

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