Preparing for a sales interview is a bit like preparing for a big sales pitch to a new client. You need to do your homework, you need to prepare all your materials and you really need to know how to sell the product. The only difference in the case of the sales job interview is that YOU are the product.
Assuming you have done all this sales job interview preparation really well you should get the job right? Not necessarily. It actually depends on how well you perform on the day of the interview and how well you deliver against the key things the employer is looking for. A tiny bit of luck won’t hurt either.
5 Things Employers Look For During a Sales Job Interview
- Selling Skills
More than anything else an employer needs to see that you can sell their product or service. It seems simple enough, but you need to actually show the employer you can do this during the interview. The best ways to achieve this are:
Highlight past sales and profit achievements especially where you have exceeded targets
Provide examples of past experiences that show you can manage disappointment and are resilient
Maintain a high level of enthusiasm and motivation throughout the interview proving you are very interested in this particular role
Tell them why you want to sell their specific product
Tell them how you would go about selling their product using any learning’s from your research about the market, their product or competitors
- Customer Focus
Employers want to be sure that the customer is at the centre of everything you do. You need to prove that you are customer driven and continually strive to keep customers and clients happy during any sales interview. The best ways to show this are:
Highlight any awards or recognition given for customer satisfaction
Prepare a list of referees that includes as many customers/clients as possible for the employer to check
Prepare answers to interview questions about customers in advance
If you have a sales portfolio ensure it includes a good balance of financial achievements and customer related achievements.
A sales person with an extensive network of clients and contacts is going to be more valuable to an employer than one less connected. Sometimes employers ask you specific questions to understand the extent of your network but if they don’t, you need to find a way to work the information into the job interview. Think about these conversational options:
While researching the industry, I spoke to DROP IN NAME AND TITLE to gain a better understanding of the industry as a whole.
I’m very familiar with your products and industry. I spend a lot of time with DROP IN NAME AND TITLE and we have had many great discussions about …
I met DROP IN NAME AND TITLE at a recent networking event. He/She was very interesting. I learnt….
I use my LinkedIn network extensively to pursue new clients and grow ….
- Team Work
There is a danger that really good sales people don’t always play nicely with others. They are focused and driven toward achieving their individual targets that sometimes this comes at the expense of others around them. You need to show you are a team player, but still not let this detract from the fact that you are an achiever. Think about these options:
Start some sentences with ‘we’ not just ‘I’
Mention team building activities, networking with your colleagues etc..
Prepare some examples of teamwork achieving targets you can use to answer sales interview questions.
Mention how past work colleagues are still good friends of yours. This answers the teamwork requirement and adds to the networking one as well. Win Win
See Also: How to Prove You Are a Team Player
- Planning & Organisation
Perhaps this is amongst the most boring of the necessary sales skills but it’s no less important. No one wants an unorganized, sloppy sales person with a haphazard approach to their work. Organised sales people who plan their efforts in advance sell more products, develop better networks and get through more work in any given day. You don’t need to go overboard with this one but it does need to subtly come out in your answers.
Don’t say you like to plan your day, talk specifically about your planning process as it applies to your role.
Mention which system you use to organize clients and follow up. Again focus on the process since processes can be transferred from role to role.
Practice inserting many of these subtle phrases and information into your answers and you will easily be able to show any employer you have the 5 key things they are looking for in every sales job interview.
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