What Is Your Story?

We had our monthly meeting today at A Sales Guy Recruiting with a great brainstorming session. We focused on some of the best ways to differentiate our recruiting firm and our processes to become one of the “best of the best” sales recruiting firms. One of the best ideas that came out of the session was to always find the candidates “story”.  We use a combination of traditional and behavioral interview questions for our interviews. This allows us to not only learn about the candidate background but also their personality and confirm that anyone we submit for a job can actually do the job. There are a number of questions we ask to identify the story but here’s one that has been pretty successful for me. Tell me about your best sales experience and how you were able to close the deal: One of my favorite candidate stories is from a sales person on how he won one of his biggest and most complex deals and beat his biggest competitor at the same time. The sales cycle lasted 9 months, he had approximately 20 meetings with 15 people in 5 different departments from the client and he had a team of 10 people to assist him. He carefully planned each and every meeting he had with the client. He knew in advance when the technical folks from the client were going to be in the meetings, so he always brought a technical person from his team too, just to make sure he could answer any questions on the spot. He was very resourceful and this helped him in more than one meeting. He got to know everything he could about the key people on the team. He learned that the VP of Marketing loved sushi, so one day when they had a meeting late afternoon, he had her favorite local sushi place deliver sushi for the meeting. That was just one of the “extras” he used in his approach during the process. He was creative and willing to do whatever it took to make this deal work. The deal was worth over $1M and 115% of his quota, so he reached out to the best people in his company to help represent them. Since the deal was so big, he also made sure the financial and legal people were involved in the deal from early on. He wanted to make sure all the t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted.  He out executed his competition by understanding his client’s needs and making sure they were met. What this story told me about my candidate was that he met a very important criteria that my client was looking for – knowing how to deal with a complex sale. He was extremely focused, he had a plan and he was good at the details. He didn’t let anything fall through the cracks and he got the client to say yes. Instead of just asking the question, are you good at the complex sale? Which everyone will say yes to, I now had a real “story” to share with the client to prove he’s good at complex selling.  I was confident he would be a good candidate for my client and he could do the job! By the way, he did get an offer from my client. So, before you go on your next interview, think about what your “story” is and make sure to share it in your interview with the hiring manager. It might just help you get the job you’re interviewing for.      


Keenan is A Sales Guy Inc’s CEO/President and Chief Antagonist. He’s been selling something to someone for his entire life. He’s been teaching and coaching almost as long. With over 20 years of sales experience, which he’ll tell you he doesn’t give a shit about, Keenan has been influencing, learning from and shaping the world of sales for a long time. Finder of the elephant in the room, Keenan calls it as he sees it and lets nothing or no one go unnoticed.