10 ways to succeed at your sales job interview

If you have been a successful sales professional in your career or are starting on the road towards a sales-related dream job, you should be able to sell yourself.

Interviews for such positions can be stressful and challenging, but always remember someone on the candidate list is likely to be successful, so why shouldn’t it be you?

Related: 15 job interview mistakes to avoid

Here are some tips that could prove to be the difference between success and failure in the interviewing process.

1. Create a relationship

Relationships and connections make up the backbone of any sales career. Before you build them with customers, you should find a way to build relationships with your interviewer. It would help if you tried to connect with them before the interview, perhaps on LinkedIn or mutual industry acquaintances, and highlight your passion for sales.

Sales leaders love assertive, enthusiastic candidates who will be prepared to go the extra mile. If that is not possible due to various limitations, you can still build rapport with the interviewer during the interview. Your goal is to make a good impression.

During the interview

Where possible, subtly mirror your interviewer’s body language. It shouldn’t be obvious you’re trying to copy them, but people generally respond to those who appear to be engaged with them.

Listen to everything your interviewer says; echoing your interviewer’s responses shows that you’ve listened and understood. Repeat some of their comments back to them, and indicate you approve of what they say.

Avoid talking about politics or religion; it may cause awkwardness or even offence. Keep to topics related to the industry, organisation and role unless the interviewer asks an informal question.

Related: 5 interview questions hiring managers ask to identify a great candidate

2. Discuss the finer details of the role

Do some homework to find out what kind of products you might be selling and the company’s workplace culture. If you have contacts within that particular industry, ask about the business and how it operates.

These contacts can include both customers and sales reps as well. Knowing the relevant buying habits and industry trends can help open doors for the ideal candidate. It’s a good idea to strike a balance between knowing plenty about the role and wanting to discover more simultaneously.

3. Don’t be afraid to talk about your successes

Remember, the prospective employer conducting a sales interview will be looking for some wow factor from you, so don’t hide your light away. If there are previous sales role successes you feel will impress, be prepared to shout them from the rooftops.

Be sure to mention the types of customers you sold to, the demanding situations you faced, the people you worked with and the products you were good at selling. An interview for a sales job is not the time for any unwanted false modesty.

Related: How to use the STAR technique to excel in job interviews

4. Show them you’re a problem solver, not a problem maker

Sales organisations face similar challenges, but each of them solves them differently. Sometimes, a company might solve a problem using a particular software or technology. Occasionally, it might use a different approach altogether.

Hiring an employee can be the solution to a company’s situation. If you’re uncertain what the key obstacles your potential employer is facing are, ask them. And if you’ve done your research during your job search, you should be able to present yourself as the solution they’ve been looking for all along.

5. What’s your action plan?

Your ideas for bringing in new customers and making a difference to increase revenue will help you succeed as a salesperson. If you bring the outline of an action plan with you, you may have done enough to tip the scales in your favour.

Tenacity, one of the most underrated qualities in a salesperson, is crucial when seeking a sales position. This shows your ability to prioritise tasks and to use interpersonal skills to achieve your goals. You’ll also need to describe how you’ll get to know clients, and spark relationships with them to make an impact.

6. Treat the interview like a sales meeting

By doing this, you can use your sales and communication skills to get into the mindset of selling a product, but on this occasion, you’re the product.

Think about what the company wants from the product (the salesperson) and what would interest them. The job requires thorough research into the company and an ability to think through every possibility.

Remember that you should look for ways to be consultative rather than “salesy”. Few companies now want an aggressive old-school approach to a sales interview.

7. Prepare for specific questions

Salespeople need to know about sales principles and sales practices. They must understand customer service and be prepared to answer competency-based questions. Their adaptability, persuasiveness, negotiation and presentation skills have to be strong.

Sales professionals need to know how to handle objections and close deals. You can usually expect common interview questions about your best sale, your biggest mistake, your reasons for wanting a sales career, what draws you to their company, how you’ll fit in with their sales team, etc.

Related: 15 ways to prepare and succeed at virtual job interviews

8. Put your achievements on display

You should always ensure you’ve got everything you need before an interview. Don’t forget to bring proof of your qualifications and experience with previous employers. If you have evidence of your last record in sales, bring it along with you.

If you also have an impressive profile on platforms such as LinkedIn, point them in that direction to showcase your sales experience. In some sales interviews, you could also potentially score points for bringing your contacts book, in part because it shows you’re a successful salesperson.

9. Make sure you ask questions

Your interviewers will want you to be positive in your approach and keen to ace the interview. Always ask questions. They can include enquiries about the possibility of their existing salespeople reaching their targets, the best things about working for the company, the option of being flexible in sales negotiations, the potential existence of a career, path, etc. Always sound interested in what they are telling you.

Related: How to write a follow-up email after a job interview

10. If it’s all gone well, try to close the deal

You should ask the interviewer if there were any concerns or questions regarding your performance during the interview process. It would help if you also asked them what the next step is for you and when you will hear back from them.

Doing that shows interest in the job. In the perfect interview scenario, you would want to join the company you are interviewing for, and they would like to hire you. Again, seeing the whole process as a sales meeting can prove to be extremely helpful.

Finally, it’s essential to show that you have the right attitude for a successful career in sales and that you are seen as a team player.

Confidence is always a good quality in a sales specialist, and you need to be a good listener. Always take stock of how the interview is going, and be ready to change tack when needed.

Like all successful salespeople, you’ll need to be able to read the room at all times. Once you’ve done that, relax, make eye contact, be yourself and keep showing the interviewer why you are the right hire.

Ready for your next sales career step? Check out these current sales job openings or submit your CV now.

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