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Sales Development Leader Ralph Barsi On How to Hire Your Sales Dream Team [Interview]

3 min readSeptember 20, 2016

We recently spoke with ServiceNow’s Senior Director of Global Demand Center Ralph Barsi about how to hire and train your inside sales dream team. We asked him to reveal some of his hiring secrets. 


ServiceNow’s Senior Director of Global Demand Center Ralph Barsi

How do you evaluate candidates with little or no professional experience?

Ralph Barsi: Evaluate attitude first. It’s the #1 reason people succeed or fail at anything. Pay attention to the tone of their voice and what words they choose.

Someone with a good attitude will “stay in the sunlight” throughout the conversation. They’ll ask questions about growth, progress, taking things from x to y, etc. When talking about problems or issues, they’ll finish with “because of x, I learned y, and now things are back on track.”

Look for a proven track record, in anything. The #2 reason people succeed or fail at anything is because of action (or lack thereof).

Maybe the candidate volunteered to phone alumni from their school, or held a newspaper route when they were a kid, or led a sorority or were the captain of their sports team. If they can prove their accomplishments, they’re showing leadership qualities (resilience, discipline, passion, camaraderie, teamwork, commitment, etc).

Finally, gauge their level of business acumen. Can they articulate how businesses work? Are they sharp speakers and writers? Did they illustrate due diligence in preparing for the interview (do they mention things about you, your team, or your company, based on all that’s available online)?

What questions do you hope good AE candidates will ask you during the hiring process?

Ralph Barsi: Strong AE candidates will ask:

  • What outcomes we’re pursuing and why?
  • How did we do last year and the year before? What have we decided to stop, start, and continue?
  • Who in the company must I work with to be successful in my first 90 days?
  • Here’s how I can immediately add value. Would that add value to the current process?
  • They’d ask questions centered on strategy, people, process, technology, outcomes, contributing value vs. consuming value.

What red flags cause you to rule out an otherwise good candidate?

Ralph Barsi:

  • They don’t bring a notebook, a pen, copies of their resume, or any of their work.
  • They don’t dress to the nines.
  • They demonstrate no research on the company, our marketplace, or me.
  • They talk about how they’ll be compensated in the first interview.
  • They don’t look at other interviewers in the room.
  • They’re late (if you’re on time, you’re late).
  • They don’t follow-up with a thank you email (or better yet a thank you card).
  • Their LinkedIn profile is thin, or repeats exactly what’s on their resume.
  • They have no conversation flow (from small talk to specifics about the business).

For SDRs or AEs, what scenarios or tests – written or verbal – come into play during the hiring process?

Ralph Barsi: SDR candidates should role-play towards the end of the interview process. For example, give them a faux inbound lead and its details.

Task the candidate with calling the lead (which ends up being someone on the sales team) and uncovering certain details (like what prompted the interest, what issue they’re trying to resolve, and how are they currently doing things).

AE candidates need to present to a panel of interviewers (online is fine, but preferably face to face). It’s critical to have them articulate their 30-60-90 day plan or a prepared slide deck you’ve provided.

What are commonly accepted hiring truths that are, in your opinion, completely wrong?

Ralph Barsi: Candidates coming right out of college can’t deliver results and become your A Players. Mature, seasoned candidates can’t deliver results and become your A Players.

Give every credible candidate (on paper) a chance. Bartenders, waitresses, construction workers, and accountants may be your next successful SDRs.

How much emphasis do you put into references, and when do you ask for them?

Ralph Barsi: The higher the role, the more important references become. When checking references, always back channel and reach out to people in your network. Believe it or not, hiring managers can get a lot of insight from their own second degree connections.

For more expert tips on how to hire and coach your sales team to success, check out our eBook 31 Expert Sales Hiring and Coaching Tips!