Business strategy
5 min reading

How to identify your (future) sales rockstars during the interview?

Cyprien Borios
April 2022

In every sales team, there are the good ones, and those who blow it.

We don't know what tricks they use, but they do 3 times better than the others!

Yet they are not the most charismatic.ย 

They are not the most experienced either.

Nor do they have the "ideal pathway".

But ... they rock!

These people are your top performers - the Rockstars!

Talent can be hard to spot, so when you interview them, don't miss out! In a market as tight as that of salespeople, here's how to identify, and recruit them.

1. What are the characteristics of top performers?

1st thing: You are not born a rock star, you become one.

You are looking for people who will perform over the long time. During the interview, get out your telescope, and think long term. You are not so much interested in "who is this person", but " who can this person become?"

=> What is the potential of this person?


1st Interview - 1st Month - 1st Quarter - 1st Year


This potential can be seen in certain traits,whichstand outoftenin the good sales people:

  • They know how to listen: both to their clients and to the advice they are given.
  • They like to connect with others: They love to multiply relationships - so they have learned to adapt to every situation.
  • They are empathetic: This allows them to understand the people they are talking to, their situations, and therefore to help them better.

And the must-haves for top performers:

  • They have ambition - and NIAQUE: Even though they may appear to be quiet, they have a driving force that pushes them forward, and are willing to work hard. A former top athlete often makes a very good salesperson. Find that drive, and their performance will be limitless!ย 
  • They are results-oriented - They know that they will be judged on their performance, and that numbers are what count. They don't lose sight of the goal, which makes them highly effective.

โš ๏ธ Beware: Your rock stars are not the rock stars of others โš ๏ธ

Each company will have its own criteria depending on its market, tools, prospects, etc. Be clear about yours.

You can do this by using your own 'Scorecard ' - this will allow you to compare candidates and streamline the decision making process.

=> Example of a Scorecard on Notion

2. How to identify future performers?ย 

If you don't ask the right questions, you can easily miss out.ย 

Some questions to help you identify them:

Testing your ambition - Your NIAQUE

What are the greatest challenges in your life, outside of your professional life?
What is the most difficult sale you have ever made? (we want details here).
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Ambition is not born 5 minutes before the interview. It comes from afar, and must be seen in the candidate's background and future plans.

Testing empathy

How does your best friend describe you?ย 
Of all the people you know, who has the most faith in you? For what reason?ย 
What are your best memories?

If he has little empathy, the candidate will answer in one sentence. This is because they don't like to open up. The champions will be able to open up and convince you.

Understanding how it is brilliant

Tell me three things you have done in your life that you are most proud of.
Have you ever reached a high level in a field, without making any particular effort?

Top performers are often also very good at other things.

Detecting its drivers

"Can you rank these motivating factors in order of importance?
  • Being the best
  • Learning new things
  • The money
  • Participating in an adventure
  • Meet new people.

There is no such thing as a good "ranking". All that matters is that the result is in line with what you are proposing. Above all, it is a good way of knowing how to motivate your recruit once he or she is hired.ย 

Test your listening skills and ability to receive feedback - So your speed of progress:

A dirty man who does not know how to question himself or admit his mistakes will stagnate.

Make a few comments and see how they react:

"Your presentation is not bad, but it lacks {X} ..."

โŒ "Really? I don't think it's a good idea to add it, it doesn't add value."ย 
โœ… "Okay I hadn't seen it from that angle. Can you explain to me why you would add that?"

Can you see the difference?

In the end, the outcome of the case study does not matter.

What really counts is the quality of the debriefing you have together:

  • Did the candidate listen to your instructions and advice?
  • How does it react to your feedback?
  • What did he learn from it? What ideas did it inspire?ย 

If your candidate accepts your feedback, has made progress between the beginning and the end of the interview, and still wants more, then ask yourself what it might look like in a whole year's time!

3. Detecting bullshitters - The case study

At the beginning of the interview, all the candidates are "prospecting monsters" - they have already closed "several โ‚ฌ2m deals" - and know perfectly well how to approach the fly swatter market in Lithuania.

There is only one solution: the Case Study - A real mito detector!

In concrete terms, this is what a case study looks like:

ย => "You're in this situation, and you have to sign this client. How do you do it, from A to Z?"

Open question + free format + time to prepare = The perfect recipe to assess the candidate's level (and detect the mitos). You will discover :

  • The degree of motivation of the candidate, through the depth of his/her study.
  • His way of thinking and approaching a problem.
  • His skills - thus validating his achievements.

During the presentation, you need to go into detail.

=> By multiplying the questions :

"Okay, now, would you have sent an email sequence? Why? How many emails? How often? What would you have written? What subject?" etc.

=> By proposing a situation:

"I'll give you 10 minutes, and you write me a cold email for this type of prospect"
"So you're good at cold calling? I've got this prospect to reach out to, can you show me how you do it?"

The deeper you dig, the harder it will be for the bullshitter to maintain the deception.

โœ… The future rock star will know how to detail his approach, and will have no trouble giving details. Even if the answer is not what you expected, if his reasoning is logical and coherent, good.

โŒ On the other hand, the bullshitter will have copied and pasted the article with the best SEO, and won't know how to explain the why of it. He will get confused => Next.



Top performers are original, intelligent and confident, but usually get frustrated with most companies and end up starting their own business.ย 

The secret: Never tell them "no", but rather redirect their energy - OR give them a series of obstacles to overcome to get what they want:

"Excellent idea! Besides, if you make me three more sales a month for the next three months, you have free rein for this project!ย 

Now we will have to be strategic to keep them:

  • How to maintain the link between the signature and the first day?
  • What are the key stages of integration - often forgotten?
  • What % of the target should be set for the champion in the first week? The first month? The first quarter?

ย A vast subject, which I invite you to discover here:

=> The Onboarding Guide - Sales Special



Cyprien - Sales Content Expert


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