How To Hire Sales Reps For Coachability [Straight from #SalesSummit]

how to hire sales repsAs the fourth employee of HubSpot, it only took now-CRO Mark Roberge seven years to scale the company to $100 million in revenue with 450 sales and service reps.

Mark recently presented at the Sales Acceleration Summit, hosted by, to explain how one of the key elements of that success was implementing a culture of sales coaching.  

“If you bring in highly coachable people into an environment of world-class coaching, you’re going to create success,” Mark said.

But that all starts with knowing how to hire sales reps who respond to and learn from sales coaching. Mark shared his secret sauce for doing just that.

How to Hire Sales Reps For Coachability

The Search

Mark explained that hiring for coachability starts with identifying your ideal hiring profile.

  • “I’m a big advocate that the ideal hiring profile — especially in sales — for your company is unique to your company. It’s unique to your buyer. It’s unique to how you go to market. It’s unique to how you sell.”
  • “We’ve honed in our model (especially in the early years) on five particular criteria that we focus on in the sales environment at HubSpot. And those criteria are coachability, curiosity, work ethic, prior success and intelligence.”
The Interview

For Mark, the interview starts in the lobby when he meets the candidate.

  • “Are they very stand-off ish and passive? [That’s] not a complete show-stopper, but a missed opportunity on their part…do they greet me? Do they recognize me? Do they pick out something I’ve tweeted about recently? Are they asking good follow-up questions as they’re listening?”

After warming up the candidate with questions about their interest in the company and their overall career aspirations, Mark asks specific questions about the candidate’s background:

  • “We talk a little bit about their background and [I say], ‘Hey, I noticed you were at XYZ Company [as] an account executive. How many account executives were there? And where did you rank? And is [it] based on bookings or revenue? And is it last quarter’s figures or last year’s figures?’ I’m really trying to hash out their prior success specifically in that area.”

If they recently graduated, he’ll ask about what the candidate did in college. He asks what their passions were and how they excelled at those to measure prior success.

The Role Play

The biggest of Mark’s interviews is the role play to assess coachability. He sets up a hypothetical situation where he’s an inbound lead.

  • “Then I observe: Does [the candidate] just throw up on me with 15 minutes of content that I could have gotten off a website? Or is she really curious and asking good questions and in tune to my context, my goals, my plans to achieve those goals, the challenges I face in executing those plans…that gives me a lot of input on her curiousity.”

Then, he stops the role play mid-interview.

  • “I say, ‘OK, how do you think you did?’ And if they’re like, ‘I was awesome,’ I’m just not psyched about that. But if they’re really perceptive and reflective about how they did…that’s an enormous indicator for me, and I’ll build off of that.
  • “In every interview, I give candidates one area of positive feedback and one area of improvement.”
  • “I’ll literally get up on the whiteboard and start coaching them a little bit. And I’ll watch how they’re receiving that coaching: Are they glaze-eyed and just kind of shaking their head? Or are they taking notes and asking good questions and really feel like they’re getting it?”

Then, Mark has them redo the role play.

  • “Now, they all mess that up. I mean, it’s a very stressful situation. But the effort that they put in really is telling to me as to how well they’ll actually be able to apply these concepts.”
  • “And if they improve in that 15 minutes, gosh, it’s going to be hard to convince me not to hire that person. Because if I move the needle in 15 minutes, what’s it going to be like in a day, a week, a month [of] working with that person? We’re really going to get them into a high level of performance.”

Mark also talked about how to bring new sales reps into a highly coachable culture and model. His full presentation is available for the next two weeks only by registering for the Sales Acceleration Summit.

Or you can check out what Mark told us about rapidly scaling a sales team any time by downloading the video of the most recent Modern Sales Leader Hangout broadcast.

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How To Hire Sales Reps For Coachability [Straight from #SalesSummit]
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How To Hire Sales Reps For Coachability [Straight from #SalesSummit]
HubSpot CRO Mark Roberge credits much of the company's growth success to a good strategy for how to hire sales reps that can be coached. 
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