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An Expert's Guide to Approaching a Sales Interview

Prepping for your interview is integral, our sales recruitment team spend hours prepping candidates and for good reason. If candidates are thoroughly prepped and the advice is taken on board, their chances of progressing to the next stage or receiving a job offer is increased by 40%.

Posted by Harriet Johnston, Sales Recruiter, Wednesday August 10 2016

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Prepping for your interview is integral, our sales recruitment team spend hours prepping candidates and for good reason. If candidates are thoroughly prepped and the advice is taken on board, their chances of progressing to the next stage or receiving a job offer is increased by 40%.

If you’re a sales professional and you have an interview approaching then here are some steps you can follow to maximise your chances of nailing an interview.

Sell yourself

To state the obvious, if you’re a sales professional, your role is to sell therefore you should be pretty good at selling just about anything – including yourself. Selling yourself at a sales interview is crucial because ultimately if you can’t sell yourself, why would the hiring manager have faith that you could sell their service/product?

  • First impressions count, imagine the interview is a sales client meeting. Looking smart is important, even if the company have a more ‘relaxed dress code’.
  • Take a folder with all of your research, CV, a notebook, questions, the job spec and any personal collateral demonstrating achievements etc. A functioning pen is also recommended!
  • Bring your ‘brag file’. The amount of experience you have will determine how large this is but do take in something that you can leave with the interviewer. The brag file should be comprised of all of your sales achievements; new business wins, accounts managed, presentations delivered – anything you are proud of.

Research

The interviewer will know within ten minutes how much you know about the company and if they feel it’s not a lot, it’s really going to put you on the back foot. There are various places you can go to research the company and it’s absolutely crucial that you take enough time to research properly.

  • The website is the most obvious place to start – don’t just read the ‘About Us’ page, fully immerse yourself and get a strong understand of their product/service and know exactly how you would go about selling it. The news and blog pages will help design your questions.
  • Look at the companies LinkedIn page. How many people are in the business? What sort of people work there? Look at the person’s profile who will be interviewing you to get an understanding of their background.
  • Social Media – if the company has a Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram then make sure you take time to look at them – more companies are utilising social media and you’ll find that a lot of important updates or achievements are made through these channels.
  • Look at competitors. This is key, if you can’t name any competitors, the hiring manager will question your knowledge of the sector.
  • Get up to date by reading sector news to understand what is occurring in the industry at the moment.

Questions to be prepared for

Here are my top five sales interview questions to prepare for, if you'd like my full list please click here to be redirected. 

  • What’s your typical approach to new business opportunities – generating and closing?
  • How would you feel if you didn’t hit your targets two quarters in a row?
  • How do you handle client objections and draw out information to close a deals?
  • Do you regularly hit your targets, if not, are there any specific reasons and what did you learn from from?
  • How would you go about selling our brand and product/service?

Questions to ask

Having strong questions prepared will allow the interviewer to deduce just how much research you’ve done, how interested in the role and company you are and also how much you’ve listened throughout the interview. I recommend having at least eight questions prepared about the role and eight about the company. 16 seems like a lot but the chances are quite a few will be covered off in the interview. You don’t want to be left without anything to ask. Again here are my top five (if you want a full list of questions, click here): 

  • What are the mid and long term goals of the company? How does the sales team fit into this plan?
  • What made you (interviewer) join the company?
  • What are the key attributes of your most successful sales people? How is the team structured?
  • What would my targets be? How many of the sales team reached their targets last year?
  • What are the main objections the sales team face when selling the product/service?

The Close

As with a client meeting, you wouldn’t leave a sales interview without attempting to close and if you do the hiring manager is probably going to question your ability to close a customer in a meeting.

Thank the interviewer for their time, ask if they have any reservations at this stage or require any other information from you. If they do, you can cover them off before you leave. If they do not then be sure to express your interest in the role and company (if you are interested) and ask about what the next steps would be and when you’ll be likely to receive feedback.

Where do you want to go next?

> Browse our latest sales jobs

> Contact a member of our sales recruitment consultants

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