HOW TO NAIL A SALES INTERVIEW
A sales job interview is unlike any other. Not only are you there to demonstrate why you match up to their idea of the perfect hire, you'll be assessed on your ability to present, convey information and keep your cool under pressure. All the makings of a great salesperson, though not so easy to master in an interview situation.
Arm yourself with the knowledge, get in there and strut your stuff. A little pre-interview homework to get you started...
If you want to find out what kind of person your potential new employer has in mind, head for their social media channels. Many companies use Twitter and LinkedIn to showcase their company's culture, so you'll get a good idea about the salesperson they're looking for and how you'll fit in.
Are they creative, eccentric or quirky? Show them your unique sense of style and ability to build relationships through great humour, a personal approach and that natural dynamism you seem to have.
Are they conservative, traditional, perhaps even slightly behind the times? Relish the opportunity to show how you can bring them up to date with modern technology, processes or ideas, whilst maintaining the culture and values of their brand. Selling in your additional value over and above the job spec shows your opportunity radar is always switched on.
THINK OF THE ANSWERS BEFORE YOU'RE ASKED
There's nothing worse than sitting in front of a judging panel, scrabbling for an answer to a question. For a sales interview, this is even more important. How well can you present to potential clients if you choke on questions at interview stage?
Prepare for questions in a number of areas.
- Key sales principles and practices (e.g. objection handling, qualifying potential clients, closing the sale.)
- Your thoughts on customer service – crucial to success in sales
- Competency-based questions about your adaptability, persuasion, negotiation skills and how you explain complex concepts to others
Questions you might be asked...
- How do you approach your targets?
- What has been your biggest career challenge to date? And how did you overcome it?
- What sale are you most proud of and why?
- What would you do if you were not getting a response from one of your clients?
PLAN YOUR OWN INTERROGATION
Everyone knows that the end of an interview usually involves 'Do you have any questions for us?'. So, it's surprising just how many candidates struggle to think up a question to ask. A salesperson with no questions is a rare species. Have some at the ready.
Great questions include:
- What qualities do the most successful salespeople at your company have?
- What percentage of your sales force hit their targets?
- How much flexibility do salespeople have to negotiate deals?
- Who makes up the sales team and how is it structured?
Open questions are great relationship builders and show the recruiter that you have a genuine interest in the future of their business.
APPROACH IT LIKE A SALES MEETING
If you’re a good salesperson, you should be able to sell yourself. Think about it from the company’s point of view – if you’re not able to sell yourself, how are you going to sell their product? You’ll also be representing them in the marketplace so bear this in mind throughout the interview.
Walk into your interview with a full understanding of the brand, and the role, as if you work there already.
- Find out as much about the company and the day-to-day role as you can.
- Find out the needs of the business... this is important is you're going to sell yourself to them as a solution to their problem (sales technique all the way)
- Do a little digging online and brush up on the background of the company, their achievements, awards and what others say about working there.
- Find out their mission statement and core values. You can use these to demonstrate how well you'll fit in.
- Discover their plans for the future.
SHOW OFF YOUR SUCCESSES
Take evidence of your achievements, usally in the form of a 'brag file'. A great salesperson knows their stuff and is usually proud of it. Take evidence of targets smashed, bonuses earned, testimonials from clients... anything to back up your claims of being the perfect person for the job.
CLOSE THE DEAL
As you would with any sales meeting, close the interview appropriately. If you feel it’s gone well, ask the interviewer if they have any objections or require any further information from you.
Ask about the next steps to show your passion and enthusiasm for sealing the deal.