As the field of sales changes to meet the needs of our evolving business landscape, data becomes even more prevalent. Having access to relevant sales data can be a true differentiator for a successful sales team. In fact, high-performing sales reps are more likely to use data to guide their sales process.

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According to the LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020, data-driven sales organizations are on the rise, with 56% of sales teams using data during prospecting and 49% of teams using data to select industries to target with their sales efforts.

The role of a sales analyst is important because it requires much-needed data analysis on ways sales teams can continue bringing in revenue. With so many companies understanding how critical sourcing and analyzing sales data is, opportunities for sales analysts are on the rise. By 2028, job growth for sales analysts is expected to increase by 20 percent.

If your team is in the process of hiring sales analysts, here are some questions to consider asking during the interview process to hire the right candidate.

1. From your experience, which has been most beneficial: a long or short sales cycle?

This question prompts the candidate to tell you more about their experience as a sales professional and their ability to navigate through complex sales processes.

2. Can you walk me through the process you take to analyze sales data? What key metrics are you looking for to make an initial analysis?

A successful sales analyst is able to assess pertinent data and make sound business recommendations for their sales colleagues. This question asks the candidate to walk you through their workflow, giving you insight into what kind of data they are used to working with.

3. What tools do you rely on most to do your job well?

The answer to this question will tell you what tools and systems the candidate is proficient in. Based on their response, this is also a great opportunity to ask follow-up questions about their skill level or best practices using their favorite tools and systems.

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4. If you were given a project or task and didn’t have access to all the information needed to successfully complete it, what course of action would you take?

Sometimes it can take a bit of inquiry or digging to get the information needed to make a complete analysis. This question gives you valuable insight into how the candidate responds to receiving incomplete or insufficient data.

5. What has been the most challenging analysis you’ve been tasked with?

When asking this question, prompt the candidate to follow the STAR method for their response — ask them to explain the situation, what they were tasked to do, the action they took, and the result.

The answer to this question will provide valuable context about the candidate’s background and the level of complexity they are used to working with.

6. Tell me about a time you set a goal and didn’t reach it. What happened, and what did you learn from the experience?

Everyone has reached for a goal and come up short at some point. While interviewing candidates, you’re not looking for an individual who has done everything perfectly. You’re looking for a resilient individual who is able to learn from these situations. This question prompts the candidate to tell you more about their personal experience in this area.

7. Have you worked with challenging stakeholders? How did you handle the situation?

With data being front-and-center for many sales organizations, sales analysts can sometimes be tasked with completing analysis for demanding stakeholders. The candidate’s response to this question will tell you how they have navigated this in the past.

If the candidate has not experienced working with challenging stakeholders, you may want to consider sharing a case study involving a challenging stakeholder and asking the candidate how they would resolve the situation.

8. How do you track consumer and market trends? Can you walk me through your process?

As a sales analyst, this individual would be responsible for staying on top of consumer and market trends on behalf of your organization. How the prospect answers this question will tell you what steps they currently follow to stay in the know about relevant information.

9. How would you describe complex sales data to someone who doesn’t have a sales background?

Sales analysts are often tasked with presenting complex data and information to those who may work outside of the sales organization. The ability to explain their analysis in a way that is easy for people who may not share their expertise to understand is critical for success in the role.

10. Can you tell me about a time a recommendation made from your analysis increased sales for your organization?

At the end of the day, this is exactly what you are hiring a sales analyst to do. This question gives your insight into the quality of analysis they have performed in the past and gives the candidate a chance to share one (or more) of their wins with you.

11. Have you ever had to manage scope creep? How did you mitigate the situation?

In a busy sales organization, scope creep is not out of the ordinary. The candidate’s answer to this question can tell you a lot about how they work, and how they prioritize.

12. Describe your ideal workday. How would you organize your day?

This is a lighter question designed to help you get to know the candidate. Like many of the questions in this post, there is no true right or wrong answer, but the response to this question can tell you a lot about the individual’s work and communication style.

13. Solve this problem (case study).

For competitive roles, consider giving a case study to candidates in advance and have them bring their sample analysis to you. When they share or present, ask them clarifying questions to understand how they came to their final recommendation.

14. What is your communication style?

Are they a direct communicator who has no problem speaking up and asking a question? Or are they an indirect communicator who needs a little time to warm up? Again, there is no right or wrong answer here — the point of this question is to get to know the candidate better. Ideally, your organization should be inclusive of all communication styles.

Additionally, this would be a good time to ask about their preferred methods of communication. Do they prefer to send a message on Slack instead of email? Are they easier to get ahold of via phone?

15. Tell me about a time you’ve worked cross-functionally to complete an analysis. How did you get all the necessary stakeholders on board? How were you able to access all the data you needed?

In many instances, sales analysts need to work with colleagues outside of the sales organization. By asking this question you can learn how the candidate approaches cross-functional work.

16. How would you explain a challenging data model to an audience who was struggling to understand it?

In addition to sharing complex data with people outside of the sales organization, your sales analyst may be faced with presenting information to an audience that doesn’t understand it. This question gives the candidate a chance to share how they would address concerns, and answer questions about their work.

17. How would you handle receiving a set of messy data?

In an ideal world, your sales analyst would only have to work with clean, centrally stored data. But in the real world, this doesn’t always happen. The answer to this question can tell you how the candidate approaches working with less-than-ideal data sources.

18. Tell me about a time you had to conduct in-depth research to complete an analysis.

This is another question that should be shared with the STAR — situation, task, action, result framework. Have the candidate explain the project and why in-depth research was needed, what their role was, what actions they took to conduct the research and the result of their analysis.

19. Can you tell me about a time you’ve helped form a successful entry or exit strategy? What data did you rely on to support your recommendation?

For companies considering bringing an analyst on board to explore possible entry and exit strategies for their business, this situational question gives the candidate an opportunity to share experience in these areas.

20. If you were tasked with creating a custom dashboard used to drive major sales decisions and could only include three graphs or widgets, what would you include?

Every analyst dreams of creating their own custom dashboard with the information they need right when they need it. Having your candidate walk you through what they would create provides valuable insight into what data they prioritize, and what information they need front and center to help them do their best work.

Are you looking to fill other roles on your sales team? Check out the interview questions for sales development reps and sales managers.

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Originally published Jul 7, 2020 7:30:00 AM, updated July 07 2020

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