In Sales, your income often dances to the beat of your performance, understanding the role you're stepping into is paramount.
With salaries traditionally split into a 50/50 blend of base and commission, it's not just about the opportunity but also the inherent risk. But how can one decode the often-enigmatic world of sales in a company? By asking the right questions!
This post will illuminate those essential queries you should make to ensure you're not just stepping into a sales role, but stepping into success. Dive in to unravel the company culture, demystify target achievements, and gauge your real chances of shining bright.
P.S The below questions are critical for you to understand. Combine those with the questions from this blog to get a crystal clear understanding of the company you are moving into.
General Company Questions
How bought in are the C-Level execs on the importance of the business development function?
Significance: This question indicates the level of priority and support the senior leadership gives to business development. A strong buy-in often suggests that resources, strategies, and company-wide initiatives will be aligned to bolster this function.
What is [COMPANY]'s competitive advantage?
Significance: Understanding a company's competitive advantage offers insights into its unique strengths in the market. It will help gauge how the company differentiates itself from competitors and where its core competencies lie.
Who is considered the top competitor? Why do you lose?
Significance: By identifying key competitors and reasons for occasional losses, one can better understand the market landscape. This guides areas of improvement and helps in strategizing countermeasures.
How open is the company to investing in new tools, solutions, processes?
Significance: The willingness to invest in innovations reveals the company's adaptability, growth mindset, and its commitment to staying ahead in the market.
Is there any particular reason that the SDR team reports into Marketing?
Significance: This question provides insights into the company's organisational structure and its perspective on the alignment between sales and marketing roles. It might also hint at the strategic importance given to lead generation and nurturing.
Are all revenue generating teams (Sales, CS, Marketing) partially compensated on revenue (i.e. not on MQLs/Leads but qualified opps or revenue closed?)
Significance: This helps ensure that all teams are working cohesively towards the same overarching objective – revenue generation. Aligned compensation structures often lead to better collaboration and shared goals.
What do you foresee as the biggest challenge across the company in the next 6-12 months?
Significance: By gauging the company's foresight regarding upcoming challenges, one can better prepare and strategize. It also provides a glimpse into the company's proactive or reactive nature.
How often are sales and product teams meeting for roadmap/feedback?
Significance: Regular interactions between sales and product teams ensure that the product evolution aligns with market demands and feedback. This collaboration often results in better product-market fit and customer satisfaction.
General Sales/SDR Questions
Structure of the sales team?
Significance: Understanding the sales team's structure gives insights into how the company organises its selling efforts, the potential hierarchy, and any specialisation within the team.
How are the pods/territories decided?
Significance: Knowing how territories are allocated can offer clues about market priorities, geographic focus, and potential opportunities in certain regions.
Is there an SDR Enablement role that supports the SDR function?
Significance: An SDR Enablement role underscores the company's commitment to supporting and optimising the SDR function, ensuring they have the necessary resources and training.
What is the commision structure for your team leads + SDRs?
Significance: Commision structures can impact motivation, behaviour, and overall earnings. Understanding this provides clarity on potential income and how it aligns with performance.
Does the company follow a specific sales methodology?
Significance: Knowing the sales methodology indicates the strategic approach the company adopts, and if it aligns with a candidate's experience or preference.
What's working really well across the SDR/Sales team? What's not?
Significance: These insights highlight areas of strength and opportunities for improvement, helping set realistic expectations.
What do your top SDRs do differently than the average?
Significance: This helps identify best practices and behaviours that lead to success in the role.
How many SDRs / Team Leads got promoted last year?
Significance: A clear indicator of career advancement opportunities and the company's commitment to nurturing talent.
How would you say that Covid/Fully Remote work has impacted the mental health/performance of the sales team?
Significance: This addresses the company's awareness of employee well-being and potential challenges faced during remote work.
Is there a difference in performance/attainment across NA and EMEA?
Significance: Regional performance variances can indicate market opportunities, challenges, or differing strategies.
Does the team have PiPs in place for people under-performing?
Significance: Performance improvement plans indicate how the company addresses under-performance, offering support and structure to struggling employees.
What is your tech stack?
Significance: Knowing the tools and technologies used can help gauge if there's a learning curve and if the company is leveraging modern sales technologies.
Significance: Year-over-year growth showcases the company's momentum and overall health in terms of expansion and capturing market share.
Average deal size?
Significance: This metric helps understand the typical scale of deals and the market segment the company targets (e.g., SMB, enterprise).
Win Rates? Differ across Growth vs. Enterprise?
Significance: Win rates reflect the sales team's effectiveness. Differences between segments can pinpoint unique challenges or advantages in specific areas.
Revenue goal attainment (%) over the last 2 years?
Significance: A consistent track record of achieving revenue goals signifies a stable and predictable business model.
Customer + Revenue Churn Rate?
Significance: Churn rates indicate customer satisfaction and product stickiness. High churn can flag potential issues in product or service delivery.
Net Revenue Retention Rate?
Significance: This metric highlights the company's ability to grow existing accounts, indicating upsell and cross-sell success.
Significance: The Net Promoter Score provides insights into customer satisfaction and loyalty, essential for any business's longevity and growth.
SDR Quota for Growth vs. Enterprise?
Significance: Understanding the quota differentiation provides insight into the company's expectations for different market segments and the potential challenges or opportunities in each.
Average Quota attainment in the past 6 months?
Significance: This offers a snapshot of the recent performance of the SDR team, reflecting the current state of market responsiveness and internal processes.
% of SDRs above 100% in the past 6 months?
Significance: A high percentage here indicates a successful and thriving SDR team, which bodes well for new entrants.
Quota % of the top SDR?
Significance: This provides a benchmark for excellence within the team, showcasing the potential of the role when executed optimally.
Quota % of the bottom SDR?
Significance: This metric sheds light on challenges and areas of improvement, providing a fuller picture of team performance.
Significance: Knowing how long it typically takes to get an SDR up to full productivity can set realistic expectations and indicate the efficiency of training processes.
Average tenure on the team?
Significance: This speaks to job satisfaction, growth opportunities, and overall team stability.
Significance: This ratio gives insights into workload, potential lead distribution, and the alignment between Sales Development Representatives and Account Executives.
Daily KPI expectations (Dials, Emails, Contacts/Accounts added etc.)?
Significance: Clear KPIs set daily expectations and provide a tangible roadmap to success.
Significance: This ratio provides insights into the effectiveness of outreach efforts and the quality of leads or lists.
Significance: Understanding this metric helps gauge the quality of connections made and the efficacy of pitch or approach.
Average Email Open/Reply Rate?
Significance: These rates indicate the effectiveness of email outreach, content, and targeting strategies.
Average Sequence Open/Reply Rate?
Significance: This provides a more holistic view of multi-touch outreach sequences and their success rates.
Average # of activities needed per meeting booked?
Significance: This metric helps SDRs set activity benchmarks to achieve their meeting targets.
% of meetings from cold calls/emails/social?
Significance: Understanding source distribution for successful meetings can help refine and prioritise outreach strategies.
% of meetings from Inbound vs. Outbound?
Significance: This ratio provides insights into the balance of lead sources and can influence focus areas for SDRs.
% of meetings booked that show up to demo?
Significance: A high show rate indicates effective qualification and engagement techniques.
% of meetings that turn into qualified pipeline?
Significance: This metric speaks to the quality of meetings set and the potential revenue they represent.
Training / Professional Development
What is the company's overall stance on training/professional development?
Significance: Understanding the company's commitment to training and development can indicate potential growth opportunities and how much they value continuous learning.
Does everyone get a budget for development?
Significance: A dedicated budget showcases tangible support for individual growth and can help determine the resources available for skill enhancement.
What does the onboarding programme look like?
Significance: Effective onboarding is crucial for a smooth transition and faster ramp-up. Knowing its structure can set expectations for initial weeks in the role.
Is there a formal career path/ladder built out?
Significance: A clear career path indicates progression opportunities within the company, helping to envision long-term growth.
How often do managers have 1:1s with their direct reports?
Significance: Regular check-ins emphasise managerial support, feedback opportunities, and alignment with individual and company goals.
How often do internal sales training sessions happen?
Significance: Frequent training sessions can help keep skills sharp and address evolving market challenges or product updates.
Does the company ever do external sales training?
Significance: External training can bring fresh perspectives and best practices from industry experts, enhancing the team's overall capabilities.
What type of frequency does your campaigns team meet with BDs (business developers)?
Significance: Regular coordination between marketing campaigns and business development ensures alignment, better targeting, and effective lead nurturing.
What types of campaigns are you working on?
Significance: Understanding current marketing initiatives can provide insights into market focus, innovation, and the company's adaptability to changing environments.
How does ABM (Account-Based Marketing) fit into your strategy?
Significance: ABM reflects a personalised, targeted approach. Its presence can indicate a more strategic, tailored outreach, improving the quality of leads.
Where do your best leads come from?
Significance: Recognising the most fruitful lead sources can help align efforts effectively and optimise the sales process.
Now I'm sure you won't be able to answer all of these questions before taking a job but do your best to understand as any as possible. Our tip; multithread the questions. You can find them from existing employees, previous employees and pepper them through the various interview stages.