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How to Nail Your Sales Interview

Essential Questions and Winning Answers Entering the world of sales is exciting, but navigating the interview process can be ...

Essential Questions and Winning Answers

Entering the world of sales is exciting, but navigating the interview process can be daunting. Whether you're a seasoned professional or new to the field, preparation is key to making a strong impression. Here’s a comprehensive guide to common sales interview questions and tips on how to answer them effectively.

1. What Motivates You?

Sales is demanding, and interviewers want to understand your internal “why”. This motivation not only keeps you going during tough times but also helps managers guide you to success.

How to answer: Be honest about what drives you. Do you thrive on the challenge of turning a disinterested prospect into a loyal customer? Are you motivated by the opportunity to earn based on your performance? Perhaps the satisfaction of helping others is your primary motivator. Whatever your reason, your genuine answer will help align you with a company that shares your values.

2. Describe Your Definition of a Great Salesperson

This question assesses whether your sales philosophy matches the company’s approach.

How to answer: Articulate your view of a great salesperson. Again, being honest is crucial. For example, you might say, “The best salespeople pursue only the prospects who are a good fit for the product, even if it means their numbers suffer.” If this philosophy aligns with the company, great! If not, it's better to find out early. Turn the question around by asking, “How does [company] define a ‘great’ salesperson?” This shows your interest in their values and approach.

3. Do You Follow a Process?

Sales used to be a free-for-all, resulting in total chaos. But now, companies value standardized approaches and want to hire people who can learn and follow a process.

How to answer: Detail each step of your sales process and explain the rationale behind it. This demonstrates that you’ve thoughtfully developed a strategy and can adapt to a company’s established procedures.

4. When Was the Last Time You Learned Something New?

Sales is always evolving, and interviewers want to know if you can keep up with new trends and practices. After all, prosects have access to many more resources now, and are far more sophisticated and informed than they used to be.

How to answer: Share an example of learning something outside your comfort zone. This shows your adaptability and eagerness to grow. For instance, mention learning a new skill unrelated to your past experiences. Some examples are learning how to make a soufflé, designing a basic app, or learning a new software. Basically, something outside of your comfort zone.

5. How Much Time Do You Spend Talking Versus Listening?

Effective salespeople know the importance of listening more than talking.

How to answer: Convey that you understand the importance of listening. Say something like, “For most of the conversation, I ask questions and listen to understand the prospect’s needs. I speak just enough to highlight the value of my product.” This approach not only shows your communication skills but also your ability to build rapport with prospects.

6. What Do You Know About Our Product?

Whether you’re applying for a role in sales, marketing, engineering, finance, HR, operations—or any department, really – you’ll get at least one question about the company’s product. This question tests your preparation and genuine interest in the company.

How to answer: Demonstrate thorough research. Know the company’s target market, product suite, and the evolution of their products. Based on this research, what do you see as the product’s strengths and weaknesses? Showing your in-depth understanding of these things shows your dedication and readiness to hit the ground running.

7. Pretend I’m a Prospect. How Would You Sell Me on Our Product?

Some of us may remember sales interviews of old, when candidates were asked to sell random objects lying in plain sight, such as a pen, mug or paperweight. These days, role-playing a typical sales scenario is a common interview tactic.

How to answer: Start by diagnosing the interviewer’s pain points. For example, if you’re applying for a company selling scheduling software, ask, “How do you currently schedule employees?” After their response, address their challenges with a personalized pitch. Showing you can tailor your approach based on the prospect’s needs will impress your interviewer.

Final Thoughts
Preparing for a sales interview involves understanding both your motivations and the company’s expectations. By anticipating these questions and crafting thoughtful, honest responses, you’ll be well on your way to acing your sales interview and landing your dream job.

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