The Hardware Business has gone through significant change in recent years, which means that sales people have had to change with it. With the combination of selling Hardware and Software together the role has become less transactional and more solutions based. What this actually means is that there is less focus on selling to IT, and more focus on solving business pain.
Moving from a purely transactional sale to a ‘return on investment’ based sale means that when faced with objections, the answer is not to go straight to ‘price’ but to focus on the benefits to the business. When interviewing sales people, for Hardware technology, there is a huge importance on hiring people that can become part of a much more complex sales environment. With a sale that is less ‘price’ driven but more ‘solutions’ driven, it is important to find out whether the candidate can make the transition from selling to IT to selling to the business.
When Interviewing a Hardware Salesperson, you should ask:
Talk me through your most complex customer deal? How did it start, who were the stakeholders and what objections did you have to overcome to close the deal?
This is, perhaps, a long winded question but what you are looking for here is someone who can network across the length and breadth of a client, who doesn’t restrict themselves to IT but are able to get the business involved or at least acknowledges that IT is really there to serve the business. Like any sales interview you are always looking for a salesperson that can sell top down (Yes, we are talking ‘C’ level) but for Hardware Sales this person really need to demonstrate their capability to network not only within IT but to establish ‘buy in’ from the business and overcome any objections without discounting on price. Getting them to talk in detail about one deal will also give you an insight into how well they get to know their customers.
- You are involved with a deal where you need to involve two other sales people from other lines of business and a Partner Manager. Talk me through how you would manage this situation and ultimately the sales cycle?
Again, get the candidate to do the talking. You are looking for a salesperson who can really get their head round complex sales situations both internally and externally. Are they able to work in a team where they need to demonstrate a ‘one united face’ to the customer whilst at the same time managing a solution that encompasses a number of different solutions across a number of ‘Lines of Business’? You want someone who will take ownership and drive the sale at the customer whilst at the same team putting together an internal team to build a solution that can be sold to the business. Can they manage or be part of a Software sale where the sales cycle is longer? These candidates need to demonstrate that they can drive a sale whilst also managing an eco-system of other sales people and stakeholders who are involved in the customer solution.
- Give me an example of when you have had to sell a brand new technology which has been added to your portfolio. How did you go about introducing it to your customers?
Technology is continuously evolving and changing and sales people in this area need to adapt quickly. What you are looking for here is related to thinking through the business value within a customer and where can they position new technology. This skill is very important in sales people who really need to understand their customer’s needs and react quickly in a competitive world.
The most important thing to remember is that you need a salesperson who can demonstrate that they can sell in very complex environments, doing the best thing for the customers business whilst at the same time being conscious that they need to meet (or ideally overachieve) their targets.
Victoria Sorensen is a Corporate Recruiter at Oracle in the Netherlands who is focused on recruiting for both the Hardware and software lines of business. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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