What do employers need to hear at a sales interview?
Interviewing for a sales job involves demonstrating an outgoing personality, having an in-depth knowledge of the company to which you’re applying (and their competitors), and the ability to win business. Interviewers want to hear that you are motivated, responsible and personable.
What you bring to the job A sales job interviewer wants to know what differentiates you from other applicants. Summarise notable deals you have won, the existing contacts you already have in the industry and your knowledge (and training received) in various selling and closing techniques. Detail the personality traits that make you an effective salesperson. This could include the ability to communicate, listen, read people, negotiate and overcome objections.
How relevant your background is Interviewers want to hear about what type of sales jobs you’ve held in the past and what industries you are familiar with (and how your experience relates to them). They will want to hear about how long you have been working as a sales representative and what you liked and disliked about previous sales positions. They will also ask why you left, or are planning to leave, your current role. Always focus on the positive aspects of the company you are leaving and avoid talking negatively about previous employers. Instead, emphasise your desire to accept more challenging roles.
What you know about the company If you’re going to be selling a company’s products or services, you must have an excellent knowledge of the company and its competition. Interviewers want to hear that you’ve researched the company and are familiar with its history, its offerings and its existing major clients (if possible). You can find a lot of this information on a company’s website before your interview. Not being properly prepared is normally a key reason for interview failure.
Who your references are Include a LinkedIn link on your sales resume, and ensure that your LinkedIn page is up to date, free of any grammatical errors and includes a number of references. Presuming you are successful at the interviews, a sales interviewer will want to contact people who know you and have worked with you in the past. This will help him verify your reputation, your work history and your abilities.
What your activity and closing rate is It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable or personable you are, an interviewer in a sales interview is going to want to hear about your closing rate and your ability to generate revenue. Be prepared to detail major client sales, how you made them, and instances where you overcame obstacles to secure a sale. Provide statistics that demonstrate how well you performed in other roles and how you stacked up to other sales representatives you worked with in the past.