How to impress in a sales job interview

‘Sales’ is the revenue-generating function of an organization; the current and future revenues depend upon the quality of sales operations. It is the marketplace-facing function representing the organization at the marketplace. It’s about execution in the marketplace for all the inputs from marketing, product development, purchase, human resources, etc.

Finding the right candidate for a sales job is always a challenge for the organization as stakes are high. Hence the sales interviews or interviews for the sales positions are very important for the organization. The candidates are evaluated critically as their performance directly impacts the organization’s growth. The sales job interview candidates have to be thoroughly prepared to face a sales interview. Below mentioned are some of the factors, and tips for interview preparation that candidates should consider to impress in a face-to-face, online, or phone interview sales interview.

What to learn about the organization for a job interview preparation

Preparation for any of the interviews is crucial. The candidates must know in detail about the organization and the concerned department. They can visit a website or other resources on the internet to research the organization. They may go through the vision, mission, values, and history of the organization. It is good to know about the top management or the promoters, turnover; share price, and in general about the geographic presence of the organization. The candidates should check the LinkedIn profile for the department head or probable supervisor/manager to understand their background, which may help in having a meaningful conversation during the interview.

Preparing for interview questions on sales operations

The sales candidates should be sharp and aware of the market environment. They should have superior observation and analytical skills. First of all, the candidates must understand the customers and consumers of the organization. They should look at all the current/recent advertisements/promotions to understand where the organization’s focus is at that point of time vis a vis competition. They must know about the products of the organization and should be able to describe the targeted segment; it will leave a good impression on the interviewer.

Knowledge about competitors is essential for any salesperson; the candidates’ comprehensive knowledge about the competition of the organization displays their interest in the job, their detailing orientation, and their involvement in the task at hand.

Some smart candidates even check out about the sales/distribution infrastructure and make a market visit as prospective customers to know more. The candidatse should be able to mention these visits and knowledge which is sure to impress the interviewer. Candidates’ knowledge about the industry’s channel margins, ROI (return on investment), credit norms, etc. will display their sales instincts.

Challenging sales job interview questions

The candidates should be ready for the challenging questions based upon the organization’s products, promotions, distribution or pricing, etc. The questions may be about a product vis-a-vis competitor’s product; Or such as ‘How would you grow market share of this product’; ‘What do you think about increasing the pricing?’ etc. Sometimes, the interviewer may go deep into probing and criticizing candidates’ points of view, the candidates should not get ruffled, should not answer in an agitated manner, but, display their ability to be calm in such situations.

Knowing your sales data

‘Sales’ is about achieving targets and numbers. The sales job candidates should be thorough with sales data for example the quarter wise growth, market share, channel details, product wise sales share, product-wise growth, pack wise share, pricing structure. These are parts of daily tasks for a salesperson and hence the sales candidates must be thorough with their data and should be able to articulate insights using this data.

How to structure your interview answers

The sales interview has many behavioral/situation questions. The candidates should prepare for such questions and should be able to answer using a structured approach and by giving specific details. Candidates should learn and practice the STAR technique to structure their answers.

The situations explained should be professional and recent. The candidates should keep notes in a diary of such situations; for example, when they were able to grow sales in a weak market, were able to beat the competition, when they were able to handle a challenging situation in the market when they were able to manage channel crisis when they were able to motivate team, etc.

These notes in their diaries come in handy while candidates have any interview. Otherwise, it becomes very difficult to recall situations during the interview. Moreover, candidates fail to structure the answer properly in such situations

Asking questions in the interview

Asking questions about something means that the person is thinking about it. Asking intelligent questions about the job role, about expectations from it, about measuring key performance indicators other than the numbers, about job operations, about working culture displays a candidate’s curiosity and his/her interest level in the job.

On one hand, the candidate needs to give satisfactory answers, on the other hand, the candidates should not make any mistakes during the interview.

With the above-suggested points and tips for interview preparation, the candidates can prepare and give an impactful interview performance


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