Think you can sell? It doesn’t matter what sales savvy you have — before you can put your sales skills to work on the phones, you will need to exhibit those very skills in the sales interview.
Every interview is a little different because each organization has different priorities when hiring sales reps. However, all sales managers will look for these five things when vetting candidates:
Successful sales isn’t a matter of being just about being able to sell a product. Rather, the best sales reps are those who can also support the mission and values of the company and position its competitive advantages. This is especially important when selling commodity products or solutions that are similar to those offered by competitors.
Have no sales experience? Learn how to sell your skills and experience to employers without a sales background.
Here are five things all sales managers are going to look for when interviewing you for a sales role:
1. Has the sales candidate done their homework?
Sales managers will want to see that a candidate has done their homework and knows something about the company and its products, such as:
- What problem does the product or service solve?
- What is the primary marketplace for the product/service?
- Who are the major players in this industry?
- What are the core competitive advantages of the product/service?
Demonstrate to the interviewer that you have done your due diligence, just as you would on the phone with a client.
2. Can the sales candidate sell themselves?
Communication is one of the biggest make-or-break factors in a sales interview. Managers will pay close attention to a candidate’s tone, poise, and confidence during the interview because these offer insight into how you might conduct yourself in front of a prospect.
If you can’t pitch your own skills effectively, you won’t be able to pitch the product.
3. Does the sales candidate know their numbers?
Sales is largely a numbers game, and sales candidates should be able to talk about their past numbers to help sell their skills. Some metrics you’ll want to prepare are:
- Quota vs Quota Attainment
- ACV (annual contract value)
- Sales cycle duration
- Team ranking (how you compare to other sales reps)
Sales managers expect you to know your numbers to stay on track. Now is a good time to start making it a practice to document your numbers, preferably with data to back them up.
4. What does the candidate’s job history look like?
Time in the seat is important; it’s also important that a rep can explain short stays. That said, the most important thing sales hiring managers look at is performance while they were in the role. How did they perform? Who did they perform with? How did that performance compare to others on the team?
Additionally, hiring managers will want to know what problems you were solving in your previous role, what types of clients you built relationships with, how you dealt with setbacks in those situations, and reasons for any shortstops or issues. Transparency and honesty are key.
5. Is the candidate coachable?
Arguably the most important quality sales managers look for in an interview is coachability. This is especially important for someone who wants a career in sales but has little to no experience. You should be trainable and be willing to adapt to new methodologies that may work better than old habits.
You can demonstrate your coachability by asking questions about their sales processes and cycles and the various methods they’ve tried in the past, and by showing an openness to learn. Remain open-minded throughout the interview, ask for feedback, and explain how you’ve asked for suggestions to improve from previous supervisors.
Reps can also discuss sales experiences they’ve had that showcase different skill sets. For example, were they selling to different target audiences that required a different sales strategy? A great rep is able to show a diversity of experience.
Once you nail the sales interview, you’ll have a much better chance of aligning with the right job and company.
Want to know more about conducting yourself while in the hot seat? Check out our article on How to Sell Yourself During a Sales Interview