20 Interview Questions to Build a Quota Crushing Team of Business Development Reps

Notice anything in particular about the sales jobs companies are posting lately? Companies, more than ever, are focused on building out their sales development model. To see for yourself, scroll through sales jobs posted on any job board. In November 2016, I ran a search on business/sales development jobs in the Greater Boston area in the last 30 days. On LinkedIn, there were 2,090 jobs. ZipRecruiter yielded 1,832 results. CareerBuilder showed over 1,300. Indeed had over 2,700.

What does this tell me?

First, it tells me that companies have a need to fill these roles. Second, it tells me that they are advertising and posting like crazy to attract these candidates. Third, it tells me that, regardless of the industry, they are all looking for the same candidate.

{What it doesn’t tell me is if these companies are having success filling the jobs, or if those ads are driving relevant traffic. That’s a different blog post though.}

Here are a few examples of the business development jobs posted:

Title: Sales Development Representative (Software Company)

Responsibilities:

  • Qualify leads and prospects based on defined criteria
  • Work to meet defined metrics goals
  • Drive outbound prospecting to drive new business

Here’s another one:

Title: Business Development Representative (Advertising Company)

Responsibilities:

  • Maintain an outbound call volume of 60+ phone calls per day
  • Assist with inbound leads while generating your own leads
  • Work with Account Executives to identify qualified buyers

And another one:

Title: Business Development Representative (Healthcare Company)

Responsibilities:

  • Create outbound calling lists with complete and necessary information
  • Ensure leads are validated and route information to inside sales team
  • Meet objectives and report on lead generation activities

 

Notice a pattern? They are looking for someone who will drive activity, pound the phones, pass qualified leads to the inside/outside sales reps, and hit their metrics.

If every company is looking for the same type of candidate, no matter the industry, how do recruiters identify the right candidate for the role?  By asking the right interview questions.

Here are 20 interview questions to help you hire a quota crushing business development team

Behavioral-Based Interview Questions

Sales development roles are typically entry-level, but can range from 6 months-3 years of experience. With that in mind, you need to understand that many candidates won’t have direct sales experience. You will need to focus on asking questions that speak more to the intangibles that apply to a business development job. You have to look for GRIT.

  1. Did you attend college? Did you finance your education?

Most job requirements entail having a Bachelor’s degree. You want to understand what pushed them to get a degree. If they financed their own education, it shows you that work hard and don’t expect anything to be handed to them.

  1. Did you play sports or do any clubs/organizations in college?

You want to understand how they spent their time in school. You also want to know how they handle time-management. Look for drive, passion, team work, and accomplishments. Sales is competitive, you need to know they can handle a fast-paced environment while overcoming challenges.

  1. Do you have any siblings? How many kids are in your family?

I like this question to really understand how candidates communicate and work with others. Rather than just asking “are you a team player”, this question typically opens up a candidate and you can understand what drives them.

  1. Tell me about your previous work experience?

Even if the candidate doesn’t have any sales experience, you want to see what types of jobs and responsibilities they’ve had at other companies. You want to know what they’re work ethic is like.

  1. What do your parents do for a living?

What you’re really looking for is if hard work has been part of growing up.

  1. Can you tell me about a time you failed?

You’re asking them to share a weakness and a learning moment. You want to see if they can take accountability and if they are resilient.

  1. Why are you interested in a sales career?

Again, this is a good question to better understand what motivates them. Are they looking for just a job, or do they want to build a career?

  1. Why do you want to work at this company?

You want to know that they did their research and that they are serious about this opportunity with your company.

  1. What was something you accomplished in school that you’re proud of?

You want to know how they articulate their story, and get to know them better. Understand what they are passionate about, how they address obstacles, and work hard to get a task done.

  1. Can you tell me your story in 90 seconds?

Asking them this is a tough question to see how neatly they wrap up their school/early career in a few sentences. You’re really looking for their elevator pitch.

Sales-Related Interview Questions:

These questions focus on qualifying a candidate on sales-driven activity. You need to know if they have a basic understanding of what the actual job will entail.

  1. Are you comfortable on the phone making cold calls?

Being a sales development rep means you will be on the phone a lot. Sales professionals don’t necessarily love making cold calls, but you need to know that a candidate can pick on the phone and call a lead.

  1. What does a BDR do?

This question is to really gauge whether or not the candidate understands what a business development rep does and how it plays into the sales organization. They are after all applying for the position.

  1. Can you tell me what we sell here?

This is an interview question to see how much research a candidate did on your company, products, and services.

  1. What are some qualifying questions you would ask prospect?

Find out if they understand the type of audience you sell into.

  1. Can you call me and leave me a voicemail?

Again, you want to make sure this business development representative sounds good on the phone and can have a conversation with decision makers.

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

This is a critical question to ask. Candidates should always have questions to better understand your business, growth plans, and culture. If they don’t have questions it should be a red flag.

  1. How would you go about prospecting and reaching out to a new contact?

You want to know that a business development rep will do their research, get creative, and be able to effectively prospect new business.

  1. How do you handle objections?

As the front line of the sales force, SDRs will deal with objections and rejections. You want to see how resilient and creative they are. You also want to see if they are able to qualify and isolate an objection.

  1. Tell me about your previous sales/customer service experience?

Not every candidate will have sales development experience, but you do want to know that they have worked with people. Look for any real hard jobs they’ve had.

  1. How comfortable are you using technology in the sales process?

Even if your company isn’t a technical sell, there is a good chance you will still be using software as part of the daily job. Whether for tracking or connecting with prospects, you want to make sure the candidate is a quick learner.

When interviewing business development reps, you aren’t only looking for skill, but for GRIT. You need to understand that the role of a BDR is hard, and you need people who are up for the challenge. Ultimately, you should be looking for passion, curiosity, intelligence, accountability, resiliency, and coach ability.

Final Note:

Open the spec around requirements to drive candidate activity. Don’t expect everyone to want your job. If you are too selective, you will miss out on much of the sales talent on the market. The perfect candidate is never obvious on paper. Take the time to interview candidates with different experience and use these interview questions as a guide to help you hire a team of quota crushing business development reps.

This is a guest post by Chelsey Canavan, the Marketing Manager at Treeline, Inc. Treeline, Inc. is an executive search firm solely focused on the recruitment of sales professionals. Treeline uses DADOMATCH technology to help companies hire sales professionals with more insight, while also helping job seekers find their next career-advancing opportunity. Connect with Chelsey on LinkedIn

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