Most of my clients in sales have two complaints. First, they have to try to meet unrealistic quotas or goals. Second, they work for managers who nit-pick about how sales representatives work with little concern about results. What can be done to avoid these problems? Ask good questions during an interview.
Almost every employer lets prospective employees ask questions at the end of an interview. That is a great time to gauge what it would be like to work at that company. It’s important to keep your questions positive or neutral in tone. Never say anything that makes it look like you would be difficult to work with or that you have a bad work ethic. Here are some questions to ask the hiring manager, the person who would be your boss in a sales position:
To gauge how quotas are used:
1. How is performance evaluated?
2. Describe the performance of your best sales representative.
3. What do you measure in evaluating performance?
It’s trickier to evaluate a person’s character. How do you know if a boss will be a micro-manager in how she treats you on a daily basis? Here are a few questions that might give you a clue about your prospective boss’s character:
1. How would we interact on a daily basis?
2. Describe a situation where I would be making a tough decisions and another where you would want me to get your approval before making a decision.
3. What two or three words best describe your managerial style?
These questions will help you assess what it would be like to work in sales for a company, but they do not guarantee a happy experience. Some interviewers, like job seekers, know how to answer questions in a way that makes everything sound positive. Some employers say one thing and do another. That said, there is no other way to evaluate a potential employer. If you don’t want a sales manager who only cares about numbers and controlling your daily activities, take the time to investigate your prospective employer’s managerial style. Do whatever you can to avoid working for a bad company or a tyrannical boss.
One of the biggest challenges facing working people is wage cuts. For many sales people, most of their annual income is based on commissions. I met with a client today whom I’ve known for more than 10 years. He has always exceeded sales quota. In his current role he is both a manager and a sales representative. To save money, his employer is changing compensation. The current rate for commissions is 4.5% of sales. As of July that rate will be cut to 3.2%. When he took the job six years ago, the commission was 6.5%. This is not the first time his commissions have been cut.
When my client confronted his boss about the situation, the boss told him that the company was increasing his account base and that he could make as much or even more if he worked harder. These words were a deep insult to my client. In his time with the company, he has always exceeded sales goals and often has been ranked #1 in his region. Now he’s being asked to do more just to keep pace. Instead, he’s doing the smart thing: Looking for a new employer who will treat him fairly.