How To Interview For A Job In Sales

Sales Interview TipsLanding a sales job with the right company can be the launch pad for a very successful and lucrative career. Having interviewed and hired many sales people myself, I’ve been amazed by what some candidates do and say during the interview process. There are certain things that the best candidates consistently do, and common traits sales managers are always looking for. If you follow these simple tips, you will impress your interviewer, standout amongst your peers, and greatly increase your chances of getting hired.

Here are some essential things you will need to do to prepare for and conduct a successful job interview:

  • Learn about the company and even the person you will interview with. There are many sources to gather information from. Some important facts are the industry they are in, recent performance, major competitors, new announcements, growth areas, and corporate initiatives to name a few. You should also check the background of the person you are meeting with to see how long they’ve been with the company and other interests or experience they may have. I will always ask my candidates what they know about the company to gauge their knowledge and interest and also to determine if they have done their homework. Candidates that ask me about what my company does, will not rank high.
  • Dress for success and be on time. If you want to be a sales professional, then it is expected that you look and act like one. You should wear formal attire and arrive early with copies of your resume in hand to ensure that your first impression is a positive one. You don’t want to start an interview by apologizing about why you were late, or leave a negative impression because you were dressed sloppily.  Your resume should be reviewed in advance by others to ensure there are no typos or grammatical errors that could prevent you from ever getting your foot in the door in the first place.
  • Relate your skills and experience to the job. Preparation is critical and should start with knowing about the position your are interviewing for. Having that information, you can customize your resume beforehand, and you will also be prepared to discuss how your unique skills and prior experience will map to and enable your success in your new job. Showing a careful confidence without losing sight of humility is important.
  • Leverage your prior sales achievements. Every sales manager wants to hire someone that has a solid track record. You should always communicate how you have been successful with examples of your best sales. I always ask my candidates to tell me about one of the most interesting and complex sales they closed, along with the role they played and relationships they’ve built with their customers, to get a sense of their overall process and how they started and lead the sales cycle. I once had a candidate tell me he couldn’t remember one. That was the end of the interview for him.
  • Show your passion, desire and have a plan. You may not have every attribute your hiring manager is looking for, however, you should demonstrate your passion to succeed. By having a well thought out plan you can share with your interviewer, you may be able to overcome some or all of your shortfalls. For example, you may not have experience in a comparable industry or with the products or services that company sells. Your plan should include ways to address those shortfalls and indicate what’s worked in the past.  Be specific about how you will learn about their products or services, the expected ramp up time, how you would start, when you would expect to be productive, and what your overall strategy is.
  • Ask questions, take notes, and think before you give answers. You should always come prepared with questions about the job opportunity and what qualities the ideal candidate will have.  It always helps to know what will be expected of you and what particular problems they are having, so you can address those points with a solution on the spot.  Be sure you understand the questions and think through your response before blurting out an answer. Answer succinctly and confirm you’ve addressed the question.
  • Wrap up and determine next steps. Your exit plan should be as smooth as your entry. Ending your interview abruptly will not go over well and will form a negative impression. You are interviewing for a sales position and should ask closing questions while conveying your sincere interest in the job.  To close your interview effectively, ask about the next steps, and the timing and process for a decision. It’s also helpful to request immediate feedback about the interview.
  • Follow up. A prompt follow up will imprint a positive image about you and show that you care. Send a thank you email or letter to each of the interviewers mentioning the key areas of the interview, how your particular experience addresses the qualities of their ideal candidate, and your eagerness to join their team.

By following these sales interview tips, you will be well prepared for your interview and substantially increase your chances of being hired for the job.

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