Here are six useful tips for sales professionals going into an interview.
1. Most of us in sales would say we’ve got ‘exceptional inter-personal skills’. That’s one reason we’re in the business, right? To prove your unique and downright awesome communications skills, recount a past, positive experience with a client/customer. One useful acronym is the S.T.A.R method; articulate the Situation, the Task at the Hand (thereby applying heaps of context), what Action you took to solve the problem and most importantly, the end Result. This way you’re not just telling your interviewers your communication skills are good, you’re proving it.
2. Human relationships count for a lot in the sales world and you will most definitely be tested on this skill at interview stage. Even if you’re not explicitly asked, make sure at some stage that you describe a situation when you built rapport with a client. This example can be over the phone or face-to-face, the most important detail to include is how your actions led to an increase in spend, or brought them back into the business after a bad experience. As sales people we know that trust plays a huge part in the customer buying, so portray you understand how important this is by using this example.
3. Salesforce recently revealed that on average, sales people spend 64% of their time on non-selling tasks.
It’s not the percentage most of us in sales like but it is significant, so covering off your non-selling skills is a smart move. A good way to cover this is off is to acknowledge the challenge of managing a large portfolio of clients and how you keep on top of all of their needs as well as staying in regular contact with all your ‘dormant’ clients. Cover this off by briefly talk your interviewers through your boring yet outrageously effective organisational system that allows you to stay on top of all your daily demands.
4. Now you’ve broken down why you’ve been successful to date in a structured manner, let your interviewers see your charisma. Do some thorough research on your prospective employer and the individuals interviewing you via LinkedIn (just like you do with potential clients) i.e. how long they’ve been at the company, their progression and subtly drop some of the information you’ve gathered into the interview to portray how you develop working relationships.
5. It’s crucial that your interviewers see how you could fit into the team culturally. Tell your interviewers some interesting facts about yourself. Don’t be afraid to make a little fun of yourself to show you don’t take yourself too seriously, therefore demonstrating that you realise you’re not perfect and are keen to continue learning and developing. Talk about your last role in glowing terms, without a bad word to say about any of the staff. Bad mouthing past jobs, colleagues and clients, even just slightly is a massive no no.
6. Finally, take control of your interview with a well thought through close. Ultimately, if you can’t close your own interview, how will the interview panel be sure that you can close a deal? Show passion and drive at this stage by asking as many questions as possible, including;
• The ins and outs of the position
• The intricacies and unique selling points of the product/service
• Progression opportunities within the organisation
• How the industry is doing
• Where your interviewers see the company in five years
Big brownie points if you can cover off all of the above as it’s a long list. Whatever you do, don’t ask questions that you could have found out for yourself like their company vision etc. as this is likely to expose a lack of research on your part. Your final question should be if there’s anything else you can provide. Then, crucially, if applicable, assert your interest in the position and ask what the next steps are.
Additionally as with any interview, arrive ten minutes early, bring two CVs, a cover letter, and even some references from past employers. But I don’t need to tell you that…
Most importantly leave your interviewers with the right impression of you, an interview persona is to be expected but make sure it is reflective of you. There is no point joining an organisation that doesn’t match your personality, goals and values so take this into account when interviewing for roles.