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Key Questions to Ask When Hiring an Account Executive

The Betts Team
May 11, 2023

Hiring the right account executive is crucial for the success of your sales team and overall business growth. These professionals play a pivotal role in driving revenue and building strong client relationships. To ensure you find the perfect fit for your organization, it’s essential to ask the right key questions during the interview process. In this blog post, we will discuss the key questions to ask when hiring an account executive, divided into two categories: Responsibilities and Situational. These questions will help you assess the candidate’s experience, skills, problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit.

Questions About Responsibilities

These questions refer to the specific duties, tasks, and areas of expertise that an account executive is expected to fulfill in their role. These responsibilities are directly related to sales, client management, and revenue generation. Account executives are responsible for driving sales, building relationships with clients, and meeting or exceeding revenue targets. They play a crucial role in the sales process, from prospecting and lead generation to negotiating and closing deals. Their primary focus is on acquiring new clients and expanding business opportunities with existing clients.

  1. Sales Experience: Begin by asking about the candidate’s overall sales experience, specifically focusing on their experience in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) sales and closing deals. Inquire about the number of years they have dedicated to these areas to gauge their level of expertise.
  1. Target Clients: Learn about the type of clients the candidate has serviced or sold to in the past. Inquire about the size of these clients and seek clarification on how they quantify size—whether it’s based on employee count or revenue. This information will help you determine if their past experience aligns with your target market.
  1. Deal Size and Cycle: Understanding the average deal size and sales cycle duration is crucial for evaluating the candidate’s performance. Ask about their experience in handling deals of various sizes and inquire about their typical sales cycle length.
  1. Personas and Sales Methodology: Explore the personas the candidate has experience working with. This will help you gauge their ability to adapt their sales approach to different buyer types. Additionally, ask about the sales methodology they employ to understand if it aligns with your team’s processes and goals.
  1. Prospecting Tools and Strategies: Inquire about the tools the candidate utilizes for prospecting and lead generation. Understanding their approach will shed light on their ability to identify and engage potential clients effectively.
  1. New Logo Acquisition and Support: Determine the amount of new logo acquisition (hunting) the candidate has engaged in during their previous roles. Additionally, find out if they have received support from Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) or inbound leads, as this will help you understand their self-sufficiency and resource requirements.
  1. Stakeholder Engagement: Ask about the number of stakeholders the candidate typically engages with during the sales process. This will help you assess their ability to manage complex sales cycles involving multiple decision-makers.
  1. Net-New Business vs. Upsells: Determine whether the candidate has been primarily responsible for generating net-new business or managing upsells. Additionally, inquire about the breakdown percentage between the two. If they focus on net-new business, ask what percentage of it was self-sourced.
  1. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Metrics: Understand the KPIs and metrics the candidate is currently being measured by in their current role. Inquire about their quota attainment since joining the company and the duration of their ramp-up period. This information will provide insights into their performance and ability to meet targets.
  1. Performance and Success Factors: If the candidate claims to have consistently outperformed their peers, ask them to elaborate on the factors they attribute their success to. Discovering their secret sauce will help you gauge their unique strengths and qualities that contribute to their achievements.
  1. Demo Preparation and Customization: Sales demos are an essential part of the account executive’s role. Inquire about how the candidate prepares for demos and the level of customization they provide for each presentation. This will shed light on their attention to detail and ability to tailor solutions to clients’ needs.
  1. Strengths and Weaknesses: Ask the candidate to identify the strongest and weakest aspects of their sales motion. Understanding their self-awareness and ability to identify areas for improvement will help you assess their potential for growth and development within your organization.
  1. Sales Process: Request the candidate to walk you through their sales process, including their account and book strategy, prospecting methods, and the approach they take during the first call. This will give you insights into their strategic thinking and their ability to navigate the sales cycle effectively.
  1. Complex Deal Experience: Encourage the candidate to discuss a complex deal they successfully closed. Inquire about the internal resources they utilized and the strategies they employed to secure the deal. This will help you evaluate their problem-solving skills and ability to collaborate across teams.

Situational Questions

These situational questions provide a glimpse into how candidates think on their feet, handle challenges, and make informed choices. They are typically hypothetical scenarios or real-life examples that allow candidates to showcase their ability to navigate complex situations, demonstrate creativity, and adapt their strategies to achieve desired outcomes.

By asking situational questions, you can assess the candidate’s critical thinking skills, their ability to assess risks and make sound judgments, their resourcefulness in finding solutions, and their overall approach to problem-solving. These key questions for hiring an account executive help you evaluate how candidates would handle various challenges they may encounter as account executives, providing insights into their decision-making process and their suitability for the role.

Overall, situational questions provide an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their thought processes, past experiences, and the skills they would bring to the table in real-world scenarios, helping you make a more informed hiring decision.

  1. Non-Professional Accomplishments: Inquire about the candidate’s biggest non-professional accomplishment. This question provides a glimpse into their character, passions, and personal drive, which can give you valuable insights into their motivation and dedication.
  1. Proud Deal Achievement: Ask the candidate to walk you through a deal they are particularly proud of. By listening to their story, you can assess their ability to navigate challenges, overcome objections, and close deals successfully. Look for their ability to articulate their role in achieving the desired outcome.
  1. Deal Loss and Lessons Learned: Discuss a deal the candidate lost and ask them to reflect on what they could have done differently. This question reveals their ability to learn from failures, adapt their approach, and continuously improve their performance.
  1. Creative Problem-Solving: Explore a scenario where the candidate had to get creative to close a deal. This question assesses their resourcefulness, innovation, and ability to think outside the box to overcome obstacles and achieve results.
  1. Territory Planning: Imagine the candidate is given a new territory tomorrow. Inquire about the steps they would take to map out their plan of attack. Look for their strategic thinking, research skills, and ability to prioritize and execute a plan effectively.
  1. Account Qualification: Ask the candidate how they decide whether an account should be pursued or disqualified. This question reveals their ability to assess potential clients and prioritize their efforts based on the likelihood of success. Look for their understanding of qualifying criteria and their judgment in focusing on high-value opportunities.
  1. Personal Performance Improvement: Request the candidate to describe a time when they were displeased with their performance and how they addressed it. This question assesses their self-reflection, accountability, and willingness to take initiative in improving their skills and results.
  1. Favorite Team Experience: Inquire about the favorite team the candidate has been a part of and why it stands out to them. This question provides insights into their team dynamics preferences, collaborative nature, and ability to contribute positively to a team environment.

As you embark on the hiring process for an account executive, remember that finding the right fit goes beyond evaluating skills and experience. By asking the right key questions for hiring an account executive, both in terms of responsibilities and situational scenarios, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s capabilities, problem-solving abilities, and cultural alignment. Use these questions as a guide to help you identify the ideal account executive who will contribute to the growth and success of your sales team.

Find the Right Hires with Betts Connect

If you’re searching for your next Account Executive hire then Betts Connect is your solution. As the only go-to-market recruiting platform built and powered by recruiters, Connect enables you to search through a network of vetted sales, marketing and customer success professionals actively looking for their next opportunity, and reduce time to hire, save money, and spend more time on your growth strategy. Plus, our clients see ROI in less than 3 months.

Our experienced teams always know the most up to date information on compensation, the working arrangements that top professionals are seeking from a future employer and the key questions for hiring an account executive. If you have any questions, please reach out. We look forward to speaking with you!

Contact us here for a demo of Connect and to learn more about this hiring platform.