Define the type of salesperson you need. Do you need a hunter (someone who knows how to go out and find new business) or a farmer (someone who knows how to maintain and grow existing clients)? While some salespeople can do both, most are better at one or the other – and they really are different skills. Adapt your interview questions based on this decision to make sure you are hiring for the right role.
What’s their work history? It takes time to build a successful reputation as a sales rep at a certain company or in the IT Security industry. Examine how often the salesperson is changing jobs and the reasons for doing so. Successful salespeople tend to stay in one role in order to keep building on their success. Check their references. Ask to speak to the last two or three direct supervisors. Ask that at least one of them be from the Information Technology Security Industry. If they aren’t provided, ask for them.
Double-check information. Make sure you are getting the information you need, not just what the candidate wants you to have. Double-check a few details, such as how many sales people were in the company, the territory the candidate had, or what their performance was like.
Get specific about compensation. Ask to see his or her W-2 information to make sure you are getting an honest and fair assessment of the value he or she brought to the previous security company.
Don’t count on the hire bringing clients with him. That’s a nice benefit but never something you should solely hire on. A person’s connections in the industry and previous customers are certainly good signs and can influence your decision. However, just because they have contacts doesn’t mean those contacts will automatically become sales.
What was his or her role? Try to get a sense of the candidate’s role in the sale or in the account management. Did they close the business? Were they just part of the team? Did they write the RFPs or proposals? Were they the Pre-sales security expert? All of these are valuable roles in sales – but are they the one you want to hire for? Who did they use in their company to help them close deals? Security Industry Knowledge? Ask the candidate about direct competitors s/he had that are related to the Security industry; the answer can give you good indication if the candidate knows his market well and is aware of the market he operated in.