Sell to Win

How to ace your interview and get that sales job

Jacob Thomas
Contributor, Sell to Win
Jacob Thomas
Contributor, Sell to Win
A nervous person at a table during a job interview.

Looking to score a job in sales? Unless your pappy is the CEO of the company, you're going to have to ace your interview.

Don't worry, it might not be as tough as it sounds.

In this article, we share six tips you can use to make sure your interview goes smoothly and you put yourself in the best position to secure the position you want.

6 tips to help you ace your interview

We've divided the six tips below into three different sections: before your interview, during your interview, and after your interview. That way you know exactly when to apply each one.

Before your interview

You've applied for a sales job and the company has agreed to meet with you. Congratulations! Here's what to do before your interview starts to make sure you're prepared:

1. Research the company

The first thing you need to do is research the company you're interviewing with.

What industry is it in? What products or services does it sell? What vibe does the company give off? The more you know about this organization before your interview starts, the better.

Have you researched the company? Good, now dig deeper…

Research the specific person you'll interview with, too. This will probably be the company's sales manager, but you might be dealing with a recruiter or some other professional instead. Regardless, find out as much information about this individual as you can.

Search the interwebs for their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram profiles and study their posts on these networks. Then read through any articles they've posted online.

Yes, doing all of this will take time and effort—but it's important! The more you know about the company, the more prepared you'll be to answer questions like, "My reps have had some trouble communicating the benefits of XYZ product. How would you go about it?"

And the more you know about your interviewer, the easier it will be to establish a report with them. For example, you might discover that your interviewer is a Dallas Cowboys fan. You can use this information to start a conversation with them and build a genuine relationship.

2. Know your stuff

Next, make sure you have a handle on your work history.

The interviewer will undoubtedly ask you basic questions like, "Have you ever sold before?" and "What have you sold?" and "Which clients did you work with?" You need to be able to answer these questions quickly and confidently so that you appear professional.

You should also think of a few instances in your sales career that you're really proud of. That way you can share them with the interviewer in a clear, succinct way.

Here are a couple of examples:

"In my previous job, I was able to hit quota 90% of the time, which was much higher than the rest of my colleagues, who only did so 75% of the time."

"When I worked for ABC Company, I had an average close rate of 35.6%, which I'm really proud of since the standard close rate in that industry is 28.4%.

Basically, go back through your work history and pinpoint the highlights. Then be prepared to talk about them during your sales interview.

During your interview

The big day is here! Here are a few tips to make sure your sales interview goes well:

3. Make a great first impression

Your first impression matters—especially when interviewing for a sales job. Why? Because it signals to interviewers that you have what it takes to earn a prospect's business.

Here are three proven ways to help you make a great first impression:

  • Dress the Part: All things being equal, would you rather hire the guy wearing board shorts or the one wearing slacks and a button-down shirt? Make sure you dress appropriately for your interview and look like the awesome professional you are.

  • Make Eye Contact: Simply looking your interviewer in the eye will help you make a great first impression. This is because eye contact shows you're interested in the conversation and will allow you to build trust with the interviewer.

  • Be Positive and Confident: Never underestimate the power of a genuine smile. It signals to interviewers that you're happy to meet with them and that you're a pleasant person to be around. Both of these things are important. But they aren't enough on their own. Show the interviewer that you're confident in your abilities as well with a firm handshake, a clear voice, and relaxed body language.
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4. Nail the sales interview questions

Sales interviews aren't rocket science. There are standard questions that most interviewers ask. Your job is to give amazing answers if/when they come up.

To help you do that, we've listed a few of the most popular sales interview questions here, as well as baller answers you can modify to fit your unique situation:

  • Question: How do you feel about cold calls?

  • Purpose: The interviewer wants to make sure you're comfortable with this selling technique since cold calls are an essential strategy for most sales departments.

  • Answer: I have no problem with cold calls. Sure, it can produce unpredictable results. But I find that researching prospects before calling them helps me secure more sales.

  • Question: Do you have a good track record of meeting quota?

  • Purpose: The interviewer wants to know if they can trust you to meet quota for his/her company. If you couldn't do it in the past, will you be able to do it in the future? (Note: always answer honestly, but focus on the positives.)

  • Answer: I've been a top seller at ABC Company for the past three years. My first year at the company, though, was rough. I missed quota most of the time, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. It forced me to rethink my approach. It's been awesome to see my new strategies and techniques bear fruit.

  • Question: What was your most successful sale and how did you land it?

  • Purpose: The interviewer wants to know what you've achieved in the past and how you achieved it. Give them a step-by-step scenario that highlights your greatest skills as a salesperson. But don't pump yourself up too much!

  • Answer: My biggest sale to date was to ABC Company—A five year contract that netted my previous company six figures in revenue. The sale started with a cold call, in which I was able to learn about the prospect's challenges. I knew our product could help, so I scheduled a demo with them and was able to show them how our product increases productivity. A month later, I had a signed contract in hand.

  • Question: What are your long-term career goals?

  • Purpose: The interviewer wants to learn about the things that drive you. They also want to make sure that you're planning to stick around for a while.

  • Answer: I'm looking to work for a sales department that sells products I believe in. I think your company fits that bill perfectly. If you hire me, my goal will be to improve my selling skills, then, eventually, move into some kind of management role.

  • Question: Can you sell me this pen?

  • Purpose: The interviewer wants to see your selling skills in action. This is NOT a joke! Take the question seriously and sell that pen like your life depends on it.

  • Answer: Sure, when's the last time you used a pen? And what did you like and dislike about that experience? Ah, I see… Well, I'd suggest this pen because it writes really smooth, doesn't leak, and can be had for the price of a cup of coffee.

5. Ask smart questions

Yes, you're the one being interviewed. But that doesn't mean you can't ask questions.

In fact, some interviewers get suspicious when their interviewees don't ask them anything. It makes them wonder if the interviewee really cares about the job.

So make sure you find out a few key pieces of information before the interview concludes:

  • What are your quotas?
  • Which of your company's products would I be asked to sell?
  • What sales strategies does your team use? Cold calls? Emails? Text messages?
  • Has your sales department won any awards for sales and/or customer service?

These are just suggestions, of course. If there are specific things you want to know about the company interviewing you, make sure you ask them. This is your chance to ensure this sales job is the right fit for you and your career goals. Take it!

After your interview

You gave it your best shot and now your interview is over. What's next? Is there anything else you can do to make sure you get the job. Not really… Here's what we suggest:

6. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

The majority of people do not get hired after they interview for a position. Rejection is part of the game. As such, always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

If you don't get the job, don't get discouraged. Use it as a learning experience. Then apply for another sales position—and another, and another. Don't stop applying until you lock down a job that you're excited to do every day. Your persistence will be rewarded!

Final thoughts

If you can ace your interview, you'll get the sales job you want. Fortunately, with a little preparation and the tips we shared in this article, you should have no problem impressing your interviewer and securing a position in their sales department. Good luck!

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