Updated: Jul 31, 2019
Sales interviews are industry renowned as one of the tougher interview processes a candidate may face.
Employers are looking to be convinced that the person they’re sitting across the table from can effectively build and win the trust of their customers. Experienced salespeople are expected to be able to demonstrate an effective understanding of how to run a sales cycle, manage stakeholders and ultimately close a transaction.
An early-stage sales interview is unique in many ways and often changes the dynamic of what a sales leader is looking for. Below, I have shared some key characteristics sales leaders are often looking out for in someone looking to kickstart a sales career:
Sales leaders are looking for hungry candidates that have a true will to win. This needs to shine through because ultimately, a career in sales can be like a rollercoaster with many highs and equally some lows. When times are tough, you need to be able to tap into your ‘why’ for wanting to pursue a career in sales in the first place. Hungry salespeople are able to tap into this energy system to motivate them when results aren’t coming through as they might expect.
Showcasing ambition demonstrates you’re goal orientated and focussed. Ambition coincides with hunger in many ways although being ambitious in what you want to achieve shows you want to stretch yourself and lead from the front. In sales, you’re typically working towards recurring targets where you’re incentivised to overachieve. Ambition helps to show a sales leader you have an aptitude for setting targets and seeking to achieve them.
Tell a Story
As referenced above, working in sales can be likened to a rollercoaster experience. This isn’t too dissimilar from daily life which in itself has its own challenges. Don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer a story that encompasses who you are and your content of character. Your story could include a time where you experienced adversity and talk through how you were able to overcome. You can extend this by walking through what lessons you learned throughout the journey.
Early-stage sales careers are often known for high-turnover, primarily because people aren’t prepared to deal with rejection. In my first sales role, I often had to make 100 phone calls before I was able to book 1 successful appointment. The repeated rejection was degenerative to some while I simply saw each rejected call as 1 step closer to the ‘Yes’ I was seeking. Your attitude, diligence and resilience will be key at this stage to convince the employer that you can remain measured in challenging circumstances.
This early in your career, there will be an expectation that you have a lot to learn. Ensure you tell your story and present a confident account of yourself while equally showcasing your eagerness and willingness to learn. Be mindful not to allow any sense of ego to overwhelm an interviewer to an extent where they don’t feel you’re coachable or open to feedback. Do your research on the company but also be sure to demonstrate a curiosity in better understanding the organisation’s growth plans.
Remember, you’re in a Sales interview, so guess what? You need to close the interviewer. There are many different techniques you can use leverage to help secure the role successfully at this point. Ultimately, what you’re seeking to achieve is clarity around your perceived performance at the interview, a view on how well the employer feels you’re suited to the role along with addressing any outstanding concerns. Based on the interviewer's response, you want to find a way to either secure the role or a concrete next step. If you’ve received positive feedback, this is your opportunity to request advancement in the process or potentially ask for the role. If the feedback hasn’t been as positive as you would have liked, remember to ask what their concerns are, then spend some time giving them comfort around why your hunger, drive and attitude will enable you to be successful in the role.
With all of the above being said, remember, an interview is a 2-way process. You need to qualify whether you feel the role and company is right for you as much the company will be evaluating the same.
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Disclaimer: All views expressed on this site/article are my own and do not represent the opinions or views of my current employer or any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. This post is for informational purposes only and any advice should be followed at the reader's own discretion.
©2019 by Alex Alleyne