How to Hire Salespeople with the Regional Head of Sales at Spotify

In this episode of Selling In Asia, Tom sits down with Sea Yen, the regional head of sales from Spotify, to discuss the topic of how to hire salespeople. Specifically, professional traits to look out for, interview questions, the onboarding process, crafting a winning sales mindset, and how to deal with sales slumps.

Sea Yen is a marketing and advertising expert, having spent years honing skills in Digital Strategy, Integrated Marketing, Media Strategy, and Sales Management.

Also Read:

Sales Training for Tech Companies
Importance of Training and Development in the Workplace
Why Everyone Should Work in Sales at Least Once in Their Life

How To Hire Sales People: Traits & Qualities

What precisely makes up a great Salesperson? It’s a question as old as time, but constantly relevant. By identifying the core character traits of a sucessful salesperson, you’ll be able to tailor and optimize your own skills.

We all know that empathy, confidence, resilience, and listening abilities are vital to working in the sales industry. Hence, we asked Sea Yen to explain what he looks for in potential candidates, of which he gave us his 2 top traits for an ideal Salesperson; passion and understanding of the landscape.

He explained:

The first one really is around their passion for sales, but a product in the tech industry. For another company, it’s probably going to be different based on the product, but passion is very, very important.

The second is actually their ability to understand the landscape. So, when I talk about this landscape here, it’s the marketing and digital landscape. Understanding the landscape also means you need to know what the advertiser wants and how to operate with their agencies. That’s number two.

Sea Yen also advises that if you’re in a fast-paced industry, it makes logical sense to hire those with wide networks of existing professional relationships.

How To Hire Salespeople: The Spotify Hiring Process


Interviews are often the first time you’ll meet your candidate, so it’s important to break up your interview schedule to get an opportunity to meet with them more than once. Sea explained that at spotify “there are several rounds of interviews. We generally will get through, depending on everyone’s time, within two to three weeks. Now, within that time, they will first meet a set of people who are soon to be peers if they get hired as salespeople.”

Competency & Cross Functioning

It’s important to gauge your potential employee’s ability to cross-function to get things done. So it’s important to involve a team that works closely with the sales team. 

We are in an organizational time where teamwork is not just important within your team. You need to be able to work cross-functionally because everyone relies on someone else to get things done. 

Sea Yen

Whether you understand whether this person knows how to work with them and even understands what the other roles are within the organization.

The manager looks at things like, “are you someone who’s going to be hardworking?” So, use a bit of a teamwork type of question. The peer will be asking questions more technical because the hired salespeople will be doing the same thing.


The spotify management will then feedback to the department head whether they think it’s a suitable candidate. Sea Yen will ask some soft questions as well to see whether this person is not just good for the team but, overall, within the whole organization. 

How to Hire Salespeople with a Positive Character

Most people believe that a”great salesperson can sell anything to anyone”; however, the truth is that “great salespeople are those who are well-adapted to the environment in which they’re selling.” To determine who your prospective employee is, Sea Yen recommended that you need to peel back their layers to expose their character and attitude on certain matters.

Preparation Is Everything

First impressions can become lasting impressions when considering how prepared your prospect is. How much have they prepared for the interview? By asking simple questions about your brand, product or service you can quickly expose whether they did their research or not.

If I ask this person, “What do you think you’ll be doing and what will you be selling?” and if he or she can’t even answer me the product they’re selling that means they did not do their research. That bit of research shows you’re genuine and that you want to learn. It’s also a very strong character trait.

Sea Yen

However, it’s also important to evoke emotion rather than state the facts. Sea prefers to delve into why they left their last company, what they’re expecting in their new role, and what they liked about their previous role. It’s important to paint the entire picture to gain a full perspective on your candidate.

Dealing with Sales Slumps

When dealing with a slump in sales, the first thing you need to do is not panic! Then it’s time to give yourelf some credit, after all you got this far didn’t you?

The best method of tackling this issue is simply to reframe the situation, evaluate your sales tactics and then refine your skills. Sea Yen tackles this issue by “having a system in place within managers and the team that is constantly a weekly one-on-one for half an hour every week. We talk about people issues. We talk about personal issues. We talk about areas of development.”

The Winning Sales Mindset

It’s fair to say that mindset is responsibile for growth; whether that be professionally or personally. It’s important to note that self-criticism is crucial for evaluating your actions in order to grow. Alongside self-awareness, which includes looking at your team – how can you support each other to foster a winning sales mindset? Sea explained his process:

“What we do is we go through a lot of different training such as stakeholder management, time management training such as growth mindset. It’s not just growth mindset, it’s team growth mindset.”

Perhaps consider that a lot of tech companies are turning to an Agile Sales Methodology to manage their teams.

How To Hire Sales Professionals – Sales Interview Questions

Here are 7 of my favorite sales interview questions:

1. What are two things about this position that interest you?
2. Who was your least favourite manager? Why? Who was your favourite? Why?
3. As a salesperson, what do you see as your most important role? Secondary?
4. What would you say is the most difficult part of selling? Why?
5. What was the last sales book you read? What did you learn?
6. Think of your last lost deal. What could you have done differently?
7. What phase of the sales process do you like most? Which one the least? Why?

Learn More About Spotify

Jobs at Spotify
Spotify for Brands
Spotify for Creatives

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