The 6 Principles of Persuasion

Marketing and sales interview questions


Hiring a great marketer is more difficult than hiring a great engineer or a great salesperson.

When hiring engineers, the college and work experience of the candidate usually applies directly to the job at hand. For example, if a candidate has a 3.9 GPA, an EE degree from Stanford, and has worked for 3 years at Microsoft, you pretty much know exactly who you're hiring and why.

Hiring salespeople is more difficult, as I pointed out in my previous post, "How to Hire a Great Salesperson." However, while there are different types of selling, there's general agreement on the definition of "selling." Nobody would confuse "selling, " for example, with "accounting" or "manufacturing."

When hiring marketers, things are not always so clear. Because marketing, as a concept, tends to be amorphous. For example, the American Marketing Association defines marketing as:

"The activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."

That definition is so broad that it essentially folds everything that goes on within a company under the marketing rubric. More importantly, such an all-encompassing definition makes it hard to pinpoint where a marketing group adds value and how to measure it.

Because the concept of marketing is vague, recruiters and managers must ask questions that reveal how a candidate perceives the role of marketing in a company and how the candidate might approach specific marketing challenges. To do this, I recommend asking the following three questions:

1. What is the difference between marketing and selling?

Both large and small companies experience internal conflicts between the sales group and marketing group stemming from differing opinions about the role of marketing vs. the role of sales. Marketing groups tend to see sales groups as a delivery mechanism at the end of a marketing process. Sales groups tend to see marketing groups as providing a service that helps sales groups to sell more easily.

Both viewpoints depend upon perspective. If you're in marketing, it may be difficult to perceive the complexity and multiple steps involved in selling. Similarly, those in sales are so focused on "making the numbers" that it's difficult to appreciate the way that marketing has laid groundwork.

Regardless of which viewpoint is "correct, " the conflicts between marketing and sales groups can reduce a company's productivity.

Take, for example, the generation of sales leads, a common marketing function. According to a recent study of 600 sales and marketing groups conducted by the research firm CSO Insights, less than a quarter of sales professionals believe that they're getting fully qualified leads from their marketing group.

As with most organizational conflicts, a sense of mutual respect is the key to building better working relationships.



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