Salespeople: Can you walk the walk? - Signet Resources

Sales and Marketing News - 19th September 2016

You’re tirelessly trying to find your ‘perfect’ sales candidate. It seems every candidate you interview, “claim”, (by using words like synergy, focus, money motivated, persuasive and resilient) to be the right candidate for your role and your business.

In this situation it is easy to think that this candidate is ‘perfect’ for the role and employ them based on their ability to use great “punchy” words.  Although these words are great to hear when interviewing candidates how do we truly “peel the onion back” and find out whether this candidate is just “talking the talk”?

Can you "walk the walk" as well as "talk the talk?"
Can you “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk?”

Having been in sales for many years and now working as a consultant who specialises in matching sales candidates to sales opportunities, I have had vast exposure to sales candidates and interviewed sales candidates at all levels from companies.  I am aware that a lot of the time the above words are simply just that… “words”.

So what methods can be used to dig a little deeper and find out more about your candidates?

I spoke with a number of experienced managers from different industries to find out some of their interview techniques and how they differentiate the candidates that not only “talk the talk” but can “walk the walk”.

 Six helpful tips for any hiring manager who is looking for great sales candidates.

  1. Use Competencies – Ask candidates about their previous successes and achievements to find out whether they have experienced certain scenarios and situations in their career to date and how they reacted.

These are also a way of being consistent throughout all interviews and having a fair structure with all candidates gives them all a fair shot at proving themselves.

  1. Ask for Evidence – Evidence is the key to success.

All successful sales candidates should have evidence of achievements, earnings, hitting targets and winning business. Without the evidence it really is hard to look beyond the fact that maybe they are simply just “talking the talk”.

  1. Close – A sales person should be able close right?

Ask them to close you!

This will give you an idea of what type of sales person they are and if they are confident in the face of a challenge. If they struggle with this then are they the sales person they truly say they are?

  1. Ask for a Testimonial – Testimonials are a powerful way to speak to someone who has worked with the candidate.

They will give you an opportunity to have a different perspective on a candidate, and give you the ability to ask alternative questions that you may not otherwise ask.

  1. Test their commitment – Sales professionals talk about going “above and beyond” regularly so what better way to find out if this true than to put them to the test!

Ask them to meet you first thing in the morning (7am) or later in the evening (7pm). Ask them to prepare something and bring it with them or send it to you prior to interview.

  1. Presentation – A key factor to being successful in sales is communication and how that is presented, so ask your candidates to prepare and deliver one at interview stage, that way you can find out whether you would want them to represent your business and how they deliver their message.

One Sales Director I met said;

“find out who they are, where they have come from, what they have achieved, challenge them and peel the onion back”.

If you can do that then you should be on the right road to finding the right candidate.

Whilst I don’t think “talking the talk” is a bad thing it needs to be supported with “walking the walk” and evidence you can do that!

With special thanks to Ashley Thornley-Davies of Tepper Cohen, Ludivine Martin of NTT Security and Barrington Atkinson of Blue Solutions for taking the time to speak with me and answer my questions.


If you would like a confidential discussion regarding finding a new role or getting assistance in filling a vacancy you may have, feel free to contact me at or on 01628 817104.

At Signet Resources we cover HR, Sales, Marketing, Finance and Commercial Operations vacancies across all industries in the Thames Valley area.

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