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Sales Interview Questions

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When you think about jobs in sales, you already know if you have the personality for this type of work or not. Those that are shy, are not good with small talk, and those that tend to be intimidated easily are not cut out for sales. You have to be confident and able to read people and understand their needs and their wishes to make sales. Without these skills, commissions are not going to be common and you can't make any money. Just as sales jobs are in a category of their own, sales interview questions are going to be a bit different too. Be prepared when you go in for a sales job.

One thing that many find when they go through sales interview questions is that they have to talk about themselves in a different way than with other types of interviews. For one, the questions are not about what your skills, education, and strengths are, but more about how you go about selling yourself to someone else. Though you sell goods and even services through a sales job, what you are really selling is yourself. If the person likes you, you have a much higher chance of making a sale. If you are not likable in this environment, you will not succeed.

You may be asked to put your skills into action through sales interview questions. This means you may be put on the spot at any moment to sell something to the person you are talking with for your interview. I once had to describe something as a sales pitch to an interviewer, even though I was not up for a sales job. Because sales phone calls were part of the company, I still had to pass this test. I was probably not very good at it, but I did enough of a good job to get the job otherwise. Be prepared to try to sell just about anything to get through your interview.

If you want to prepare well for sales interview questions, there are a few things that you can do. For one, know the company to which you have applied. That means knowing something about the history of the company and what they are doing now. You should also be well versed in at least some of the products and/or services that they have to offer. They are not going to believe that you are going to be good at selling what they have if you have no idea what that is. Be prepared, even if it means visiting locations and looking around to learn more about the product in question.

Remember to be yourself when you go on your interview. Though you must show that you are going and will do all that you can to make the sale, you also have to be personable and likable. If you have experience, rely on it to show that you can do the job. If you don't, do all that you can to demonstrate that you love to talk and can be persuasive, and that you are willing to do all that you can to learn what you have to know to be a great sales representative. If you can sell yourself to the company and do well with sales interview questions, they will be pretty sure you can sell to their customers as well.

Selling Yourself at a Sales Interview

The current job market is tough! In the sales interview you have to sell yourself better than the next candidate to get the job offer.

Remember that the job interview is a sales situation. You are the product and the interview should be approached in the same way a sales professional prepares for a sales meeting. Here are six steps to take to win the job offer in your sales interview.

Find out as much as possible about the employer

An experienced sales person would make sure to have extensive knowledge of the client. The more prepared you are for the job interview the greater your chance of success. Research the company online, drop by before the interview and pick up company brochures and reports, research the type of sales work involved, find out about their competitors.

Listen closely

Just as a sales professional listens carefully to understand the client's needs, so must the candidate in the sales interview. Active listening is an essential skill in sales, show the interviewer what a good listener you are. Find out what the interviewer is looking for in the right candidate and then demonstrate how you meet those needs.

Establish rapport

Making a connection with the interviewer quickly is essential to success in the sales interview. You need to be able to assess the right approach to the particular interviewer and adjust your own approach accordingly. Mirror the interviewer, his style, tone and body language.

Ask the right questions

Your research will help you to prepare the most valuable questions to ask in the interview. Ask questions that further uncover the company and job needs so that you can reinforce why you are the right candidate and sell yourself effectively. Prepare and take with you a number of good questions that you can choose from in the interview situation.

Present the evidence

Take evidence of your suitability. Include documents that point to your success - letters from clients, awards, business plans you previously drew up, sales reports etc. Nothing impresses like hard evidence!

Close the sale

It is important to take some control of the interview process at the end. Ask the interviewer if there are any concerns about the suitability of the product - you! Address these concerns. Express enthusiasm and ask for the job. Ask for details of the next step in the process and make sure you stay in the loop. Ask an alternative choice -type closing question such as "Shall I email you or phone you to get feedback?", "Would you prefer I call you in the morning or the afternoon?"

Make sure you sell yourself effectively in the sales interview and get the job you want

Top Sales Interview Questions

What's the most hated question in sales job interviews? Probably it's "Sell me this pen." And yet, it's the quintessential question. It's a role-playing exercise that's hugely popular with interviewers. Hiring managers can learn so much about you by how you answer it.

There are a lot of different opinions about this approach in the interview, but I will tell you that as a medical sales recruiter who uses it, I can determine what someone's skills are like (or if they're missing skills) using that exercise. It lets me see you in action. It shows me your sales style and your thought process. It's valuable to me and to hiring managers.

You should always expect that you might be asked to role play a sales scenario. Maybe it won't be a pen. Maybe it will be something that you sell currently, or something that they sell, or are considering selling. It doesn't matter really. You just need to use the same principles that you use with any sales process.

I, personally, am a big fan of SPIN Selling (check out the book by Neil Rackham--you'll learn a lot about sales styles and how they relate to sales cycles), so, if I were asked to sell the pen, I would start off with "What's the situation Mr. Hiring Manager? I see you're looking for a writing instrument."

See, I don't just start at the pen level. I'm saying: What do you want in a writing instrument? What's important to you with your writing instrument? What's not important? Perhaps a pencil isn't something that you can use because it can be erased, and none of your writing should be erased--something like that.

So, I want to understand your situation, I want to understand what problems that presents, and what implication that can have, and then I want to present my solution, the pen, as a solution for the problems that I identified, and the implications that could occur if he doesn't have the right writing instrument.

Right then, that hiring manager is going to see how I would approach selling his product. He can see how I would probably relate to his customers. He can determine my comfort level with the sales process, and probably make a good evaluation of how successful I might have been in the past. (If you're new to sales, this is a golden opportunity for you to show that you really do know what you're doing and can be successful.)

I know that it is a little uncomfortable to do role plays, but it is completely appropriate, and very valuable for the hiring manager to ask you to do that. So, prepare for, and take it in stride. They'll appreciate it and you'll probably do really well in your interview.

More Sales Interview Questions

  1. What image do you have of our company and this industry?
    • Should have done a thorough job of research or your industry and company
  2. What types of products/services have you sold and how did you sell them?
    • - See if they understand how to sell "solutions" as opposed to "products" or "services"
  3. What kind of goals motivate you the best? What total compensation are you seeking?
    • Should be enthusiastic about setting goals
    • Should be comfortable with a large share of compensation at risk (at least 50%)
  4. What were your goals for the past three years and did you meet them? What was the reason for your success? Why didn't you meet the goals?
    • Should have had concrete goals with metrics
  5. What was your most significant professional accomplishment? Tell me about it in detail.
    • Keep asking for more and more detail to get insight into work ethic
  6. Tell me about a sales experience that demonstrates your work ethic.
    • If they give a positive one, ask for a negative one. i.e. a time they failed and what they learned
  7. How do you generate leads? - Asking for referrals from current customers should be a large part of the answer
  8. What is your sales process, given a qualified lead? How many contacts do you make on a qualified lead?
    • Look for logical steps including building a relationship and asking about the prospect's needs as the first two steps
    • Average number of contacts should be 12
    • Ask for the different types of contacts they make to qualified prospects
  9. How do you overcome buyer objections? How do you handle price objections?
    • Ask for examples
    • Can they describe selling on value, not on price?
  10. How do you expect to close sales? How do you know when a buyer is ready to buy? What closing principles do you follow? What closing techniques work best for you?
    • Does the candidate mention of the importance of body language?
    • Some answers to "what closing principles do you follow" include:
    • Do not attempt to close until the buyer is ready
    • When you propose a close, be silent until the buyer responds
    • After the sale is made, quit selling
    • Should be able to describe three different closing techniques

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May 1, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermittie

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