8 Great Sales Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Interviewing for a sales position can be one of the most challenging roles to apply for a job. There are high expectations from the hiring manager on how you present yourself, the quality of answers you provide and how engaging you are in a conversation. They are also considering 'would our customers like to meet with a person like you'. It would help if you were persuasive but getting the level right is critical to your success.
Managing a Sales Interview Successfully
Interviewing for a sales position can be one of the most challenging roles to apply for a job. There are high expectations from the sales recruitment hiring manager on how you present yourself, the quality of answers you provide and how engaging you are in a conversation. They are also considering 'would our customers like to meet with a person like you.' It would help if you were persuasive but getting the level right is critical to your success.
To excel in an interview, it is important how you respond to questions. Sales managers are looking for good answers and that you can demonstrate your edge over other candidates. You need to consider each question as an opportunity to show your talents. The sales manager will be listening to how effective you are as a salesperson.
Following are some strategies you can use to respond to typical questions that sales managers will ask in an interview. Give some thought to how you would respond to them to show your talents. In addition, we have added some great questions you can ask the sales manager.
Interview questions Sales Managers love to ask
What They Want to Know: In some industries, cold calling is an essential part of the sales process and can make or break your ability to deliver sales goals. Interviewers want to know about your experience and how you make calls.
How you could answer: I have done quite a lot of cold-calling in the past, and one of the things that work best for me, is to do a little research before reaching out to the person. I try to find some common ground for a conversation to show my genuine interest in them. Depending on the person's role, sometimes I send them an email or a link to something then follow them up. Just so my names been past their eyes before I call.
What They Want to Know: Hitting sales goals is the #1 requirement of sales managers to their managers. They need to have team members that can be relied upon to deliver results, and people consistently delivering their sales goals are job security for sales managers.
How you could answer: In my last two roles, I have hit my numbers 7 out of 8 quarters. I have been the top salesperson in the division for two years running. I struggled with hitting my number until about four years ago when I re-thought my strategy and did a lot more planning on how to win instead of just chasing down anything. That has paid off for me now.
What They Want to Know: Sales managers need to know what makes you tick and drives your energy. It's a smart idea to demonstrate personal motivation and business motivation when answering this question.
How you could answer: I wrote a seven-year plan a few years back, including buying a home. I am well on track with that plan. It relates to my work because each quarter I hit my number, I am a step closer to achieving my dream. That's what motivates me - hitting my sales number is me hitting two goals together.
What They Want to Know: Sales managers know that people who have signed big deals will sign them again. They want to know you have a strategy for finding and closing bigger deals. It is time you can brag a little, and they expect you to!
How you could answer: My biggest deal (so far) involved selling a five-year contract for automation software for a production line to ABC Manufacturing. The deal started with a cold call after I was visiting another business nearby. I looked at the size of the facility and checked out what they were manufacturing. I thought it was a bit too big for me to tackle, but then I decided to reach out to the Operations Manager. We spoke about the improvement initiatives they had completed to date and his plans for the future. Through that conversation, I heard some areas we could improve for them, so I could target in on that and got a face-to-face meeting with them. I did some very targeted demos that showed how and increasing productivity and put a business case forward. The deal was signed, and the manager is pleased with his decision.
What They Want to Know: Sales managers like to know your perception of yourself and how you would manage their customers.
How you could answer: My customers always mention my follow-up and persistence. I find the sale I win is usually because of a lack of follow-up by the competitor. So I make a point of jotting down everything I commit to doing with a customer and making sure it gets done. Sometimes I overextend myself, but it has really helped me keep customers, and they definitely don't look around for other suppliers. I like to serve them well, not just make a sale and walk away.
What They Want to Know: Sales Managers want to get an understanding of your ambitions and if the company can support them. They need to get an idea of how long you will be around for or are you just passing through while you find your dream job.
How you could answer: I have invested a lot of time learning this industry and am looking to expand further on that knowledge. I have built many good relationships with customers, but there are still quite a few that I am yet to meet and do business with. I want to increase my skills and become responsible for larger accounts to add value and make good recommendations.
What They Want to Know: Sales managers asking this question are finding out about companies you are prospecting more than about what you know about them. They are looking to understand your process and how it could benefit you working in their team.
How you could answer: One of the first things I did was looked up LinkedIn Navigator and checked out the company employees and how long the key people had been there. I then researched some articles and news you had posted and what type of customers you were working with. Google provided some good information where others mentioned the company. It gives me a good understanding (and say a few interesting points you found).
What They Want to Know: This is your time to sell and close the deal. The sales manager is looking for your persuasiveness and desire to be part of the company. How well you can close and smooth that close will be for their customers.
How you could answer: Some people laugh a little when I say this, but I am a person that is always super organised. I have my calendar full of reminders and meetings and allocate time each week for calls and doing my CRM and other admin work. I have a personal rule of responding to emails within two hours, so customers are not left hanging around waiting for me. I get them the answers they need. I study the products and make the time to go and see them working so I understand how customers can benefit from them and the unique features they look for. I love sales, and certainly, with a product like yours, this would be a really exciting opportunity for me.
The key take-aways here is to research, be prepared and use each question to promote yourself and your skills and talent you bring to the table.
Questions to ask a Sales Manager during your interview
During the interview, you will get a chance to ask questions too. It's not a one-way street, and you need to show you can take control of the conversation and find out information about them.
You can ask these questions that will demonstrate your interest in the role, and you can learn whether this is a company you would want to represent.
At the end of the interview, both the sales manager and you will understand whether this will be a good move for you to join the company. As you leave the office, make sure you close the deal.
The power of positive thinking can win you the job.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CEOs and Managing Directors have relied on Adele Crane of Sales Focus Advisory to solve challenges with the performance of their sales and marketing since 1990. Her consulting experience in delivering results in 90-120 days is unprecedented by any other known sales and marketing consulting professional in the world. As an author of 3 acclaimed books, appearances on major media, and publications in USA, NZ and Australia, Adele's experience brings fresh thinking and contemporary practices to business.