25 popular sales interview questions

25 popular sales interview questions

1. Why do you want a job in sales? This question can reveal the candidate's motivations for a sales career. Make sure you have a prepared response!

2. When do you stop pursuing a client? In general, the more tenacious and persistent a salesperson is, the better. But there has to be a point when it is time to stop and move on.

3. What’s your least favourite part of the sales process? Make sure that your least favourite answer is not likely to be an important area for the company!

4. What’s your view on collaboration within a sales team? Candidates who are not willing to collaborate won’t likely make pleasant co-workers, and are likely to block knowledge sharing. Teamwork is king!

5. What’s your opinion of the role of learning in sales? This question determines if the candidate is a life-long learner, which is increasingly important in professional sales.

6. How do you keep up to date on target markets? Even if the target market of their last job is totally different than that of the one, this shows your ability to find and keep up to date with relevant trade publications and blogs.

7. What’s worse: not making quota, or not having happy customers? Depending on the company goals, either answer could be correct.

8. How would you approach a short sales cycle differently to a long sales cycle? Short cycles call for salespeople who can close quickly, and long sales cycles require a much more careful, relationship-led approach. They are very different, and the candidate should recognise this.

9. Who are you most comfortable selling to, and why? Consider your answer with a description of an ideal buyer, rather than a demographic with no coupling to the buying process. The second response may pose a problem.

10. What motivates you? There are a lot of potential answers to this question. What makes a good answer vs. a bad one will hinge on the employer company culture.

11. What is your ultimate career aspiration? You should have a prepared response to this common sales interview question.

12. What three adjectives would a former client would use to describe you? Include “helpful”, “good listener” or similar, as a consultative approach is becoming increasingly important in modern sales.

13. How do you keep a smile on your face during a hard day? Consider your attitude towards rejection. Do you need time to lose an unpleasant conversation, or do you bounce back immediately?

14. What first attracted you to sales? Commission, while perhaps part of the motivation, is not a great response to this question.

15. Have you ever had a losing streak? If so, how did you turn it around? Everyone has bad spells, so beware of claiming you’ve never experienced a downturn. Nothing’s wrong with a temporary slump as long as the candidate learned from it.

16. What do you think our company/sales organisation could do better? This sales interview question serves two purposes: it shows how much research the candidate did before the interview, and it demonstrates their creative thinking and entrepreneurial capabilities.

17. In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating customer relationships vs. hunting for new clients, and why? Certain companies and roles call for people better at farming or hunting, but be careful not to position yourself as a person who performs one to the exclusion of the other.

18. What’s your approach to handling customer objections? Preparing to deal with objections instead of ‘winging it’ is critical. Position evidence of your process.

19. Have you ever asked a prospect who didn’t buy from you to explain why you lost the deal? What did they say, and what did you learn from that experience? Following up on deals to learn how to do better next time -- win or lose -- boosts the odds of winning in the future. A salesperson who takes the time to learn from both their successes and their failures will likely be a stronger candidate.

20. What role does social media play in your selling process? Social selling is becoming more important in all industries. If the candidate has not used social channels to research prospects or look for leads in the past, they should demonstrate a willingness to learn.

21. What role does content play in your selling process? Again, it’s not necessarily a black mark if the salesperson doesn’t actively share and engage with content on their social media accounts, but they should at least want to start doing so.

22. How do you research prospects before a call or meeting? What information do you look for? Neglecting to use LinkedIn to research clients is not a viable option in today’s sales environment. You should explain that you search for personal commonalities in addition to professional information, so that you can tailor your communication as much as possible. Looking into company trigger events would also be valuable.

23. Have you ever turned a prospect away? If so, why? Selling to everyone and anyone - even if a salesperson knows it’s not in the prospect’s best interest - is a recipe for disaster. You should explain that you are comfortable with turning business away if the potential customer isn’t a good fit.

24. What are some of your favorite questions to ask prospects? Salespeople today should be asking questions and listening more than making pitches. Open questions that help a salesperson thoroughly understand a prospect’s needs should be used.

25. If you were hired for this position, what would you do in your first month? The candidate should have an action plan to get up and running. No matter how much training is provided, it is essential to position yourself as a self-starter.

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