Armand Farrokh
April 12, 2024
Screenshot 2024-04-09 at 10.35.31 AM

I see a lot of hiring managers who have no idea how to hire President's Club caliber AEs.

They run their interview processes like traditional funnels: they put a blue chip candidate through a recruiter screen, technical screen, peer interview, then finally meet the rep.

But by the time they reach the hiring manager interview, the best reps have already dropped out or decided they don't want to work for you. Especially in my early days at Pave as employee #9, no one knew who the heck we were and so getting them to take the interview seriously was a sales cycle in it's own right.

There are three core principles that I believe to be true when hiring the best reps:

  • The best reps must be sold into the interview
  • The best reps make their decision by the 2nd interview
  • The best reps work for leaders who can teach them something

Whether you're a leader or a rep trying to become one, my goal here is to help you gain what's arguably the single most important part of leadership: hiring great talent.

We'll do that by a concept I call "Inverting The Funnel." Yes, you will take more interviews upfront. But when you find a top tier candidate, it will be your choice because you'll have won them over by the 3rd interview.

And along the way, we'll evaluate candidates in the 3 core dimensions of sales: prospecting, discovery, and process.

Let's dive in.

Round 1: The Hiring Manager (Sell Interview)

When most top reps aren't looking, many of your candidates will be passive or outbound.

For this reason, the goal of the first interview is to get them to opt into the process.  I run a 30-minute sell interview in 4 steps:

  • Agenda + mini pitch on Pave
  • Why'd you take the call?
  • LIGHT sell-eval questions
  • Turnaround pitch, Q&A, next steps

After I set a brief agenda, I give a 90 second riff about the team we're trying to build, why the company is unstoppable, and why I reached out to... you.

From there, I ask the candidate why they took the call. Sound familiar? Yeah, that's how you start a discovery call. And it's on you to figure out what's going on in their current job, where they want to be, and if there's any gap.

Then I transition into light "sell-eval" questions that sell the candidate while evaluating them. Think BIG questions that give them lots of free space to roam like "how do you sell?" or "what's your sales process?" or "you made club, what's your secret?"

I want them feeling like a million bucks. I'm giving them a chance to brag about their success but I'm also testing for conscious competence: do you know why you're good?

From here, I know their goals but also know if they're worth interviewing and it's time for me to get them to opt in. Take everything we learned about their goals, how they sell, and the type of team we're trying to build, and tie it all together.

Then ask for permission to grill the s*** out of them if they're equally excited. That's next.

Round 2: The Hiring Manager Grill (Test: Process)

You can get someone to opt in by understanding their goals and tying them to your team / company, but that doesn't get them sold on you.

The best reps work for someone that they can learn from and the best way to prove that is to ask them really freaking hard questions that make them think.

So the first dimension I like to test for is process. First, have them walk you through every step in their sales process. Then, zoom into each step and throw curve balls that impede the major elements of process and deal control:

  1. How do you know if you've identified a problem worth solving?
  2. What are the signs of a champion you can't trust?
  3. How do you drive timeline when there's no compelling event?
  4. How do you get to power when your champion is blocking you?
  5. How do you manage vendor review if it's 14th of the month?

TLDR: Ask a lot of how do you progress the sale when [crappy thing happens]?

Start broad and ask them how they manage any element (ie: multithreading) to uncover their general approach, then start throwing curveballs.

This is quite literally, how we interview 30MPC guests. It's freaking hard and that's why not every guest makes it. But when it goes well, you should BOTH be fired up.

And at this point in the process, they should be seriously stoked (on both the company and you) and ready to opt into a real technical test.

Round 3: The Mock Disco (Test: Discovery)

Setup your candidate to run a 30 minute mock discovery call on your product (with an extra 30 minutes for feedback, replays, and buffer).

A few ways I like to run this differently:

  • Have them sell your product (not theirs) to test for adaptability and for how they answer when they don't have an answer.
  • Run it as a 2-person panel (champion + below-the-line analyst) to test for their ability to work a room and diversify feedback
  • Run one part of the call twice: Set the expectation that we'll click rewind on one part of the call and run it back after hearing feedback to test for coachability.

Set them up for success: give an example prospect, company, and basic resources like decks and demo videos so they can learn your product. But once the show is on, make this HARD. Tough objections, awkward silences, competitors.

The hidden test that comes out of this is grit. What is your answer when you don't have an answer? How do you handle feedback? How much did you prepare to learn our product? And we have the right to test you there because we already got you to opt in early.

Pro Tip: If it goes well, have the peer AE text them afterwards. Make them feel like they have a safe friend on the team to prep them for the onsite and again... continue to sell them on the experience.

Round 4: The Super Day (Test: Prospecting / Culture)

At this point, both sides should know if it's a fit and this step is to build momentum and answer the final unanswered questions.

I want you to know the company's executives, your future teammates, and everything else you're about to sign up for in this crazy ride.

There are 3x 30 minute back-to-back interviews in a super day (onsite if possible):

  1. The CEO / Executive Interview (Test for culture fit / sell them!)
  2. The Peer Prospecting Interview (Test for prospecting / sell them!)
  3. The Hiring Manager Reverse Interview (Open the hood / sell them!)

I stole that last one from Mark Kosoglow. When you know you want to close someone, run the last interview as a reverse interview where you show them every reason NOT to join.

When you open up the hood and be disarmingly blunt around your team's struggles and how you're honestly trying to fix them, it builds a level of comfort knowing that it's not a perfect 5.0 star Amazon review.


That's it folks! If you liked what you saw here, we're dropping a leadership playbook on how to hire your sales team in the coming weeks.

So you don't miss it, make sure you click subscribe on the 30 Minutes to President's Club  Spotify page so you get notified when it drops.

(Or if you already have... you know maybe click that 5 star review button for good karma)

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Scripts for the 18 most common objections you’ll get on a cold call and how to handle them.