What To Say In A Sales Interview
Having hired, trained and managed more than a hundred salespeople in my career, I’m often asked what to say in a sales interview. Is there something a potential hire can say and/or do to give themselves a better shot a winning a job?
While every manager, leader and business owner has their own style and way of interviewing, my personal belief is they all want to see how you are going to perform when you’re out representing their company. I believe there is such thing as a professional interviewee—someone who is amazing in an interview, yet can’t sell their way out of a paper bag.
It’s the hiring manager’s job to sift through those and find the gemstones; the superstars and the top performers.
If you want to be thought of and perceived in that upper echelon, here are a few tips the next time you wonder what to say in a sales interview:
Be Honest: Yes, you’re there to sell yourself, but be honest. If you embellish your abilities, achievements or skills they’ll be found out—quickly.
Be Humble: Don’t take this to mean you shouldn’t be proud of what you have accomplished; but arrogance seldom looks good on anyone.
Be Prepared: In today’s world, you’re likely to (or should) be asked some specific questions about how you would handle certain situations directly related to the company’s product or services. Know them. Do your homework ahead of time and know what the company has to offer, how you would position it in the market and what advantages you have over competition. Anything you want to know is available today on the internet so spend a little time reading up on the company if you really want to work there.
Ask Good Questions: All great salespeople ask questions, so why shouldn’t you ask a few in the interview? But, make them good ones. Save the small talk about the interviewer’s family and pictures on the wall for later—be more professional and ask questions about the job, the training involved and what they will do to prepare you to succeed. I’ve always liked it when a potential salesperson comes to the interview interested in what the training is like. This tells me they are ready to succeed and want to know how ready I (as the employer) am.
Listen Intently: Display the skills of a great salesperson. Just like you ask questions, then listen to the answers. Are there follow up questions based on the answer you got? You won’t know if all you’re doing is thinking about what you’ll say next.
Talk About The Compensation: If the interviewer doesn’t do a great job of explaining the compensation plan—ask for details. I don’t want a salesperson who acts like the “money doesn’t matter”. Now, it shouldn’t be the first thing out of your mouth and it’s not the only thing you’re there to discuss, but find out how the program works. If I am interviewing someone and they don’t ask or act like it’s not important, (to me) they seem desperate for a job and will take anything and worry about it later. That’s not the kind of person I want representing my company. I want someone who gets all the facts and figures in order to make a good decision.
Discuss Your Goals: As an interviewer, if I am talking to someone who clearly has goals and knows them and is driven by them—I am all ears. I want someone who knows the value of goal setting and the importance of having targets.
Finally, back to the question of what to say. Is there one thing you can say that will get you hired? Probably not. However, there are a lot of things you can say that won’t get you hired—but that’s a topic for another day.
But, if I had to give you one thing to say in a sales interview it would be this:
“I know you’ll probably be interviewing several candidates for this position and I want you know I’m not looking for a job, but a career. I’m prepared to put in the work to be the best and I’m not afraid to take on the challenge. From what I’ve learned about your company, I’d be proud to represent it and if selected I’ll work each day to earn your confidence and the confidence of my customers.”
Oh. And then back that up with performance.
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