Ace that Sales Interview – Prepare, Perform, Close!
You just found that dream job posting! You can’t wait to apply. You know this is a perfect match! Great professional sales background. Check! Fantastic, well written resume that highlights your experience. Check! Sent your resume to that perfect position and got the call for an interview. Check!
Congratulations…you have landed an interview for your dream job! And you have the perfect background…you have all the credentials and experience that is needed for the role. This is basically your job to lose! So, don’t lose it. Get yourself ready! And that doesn’t mean pull up the company’s website an hour before the meeting, and grab a wrinkled copy of your resume that has been in your bag for weeks. You need to start your process days or weeks in advance! As a guide, I have outlined the process below:
Prepare in Advance.
- Make sure your resume matches your LinkedIn profile with 100% accuracy. As YOU are preparing for your interview with the company…the hiring manager is preparing for their interview with you. They are pulling up all the info they can find on you, to prepare their questions. Don’t show them ANY red flags.
- Do endless research on the company. Write key notes down on the company, position and products.
- Prepare great questions…at least 5.
- Prepare your brag book and your sales numbers. Be ready to talk about success.
- Materials needed – Notebook, pen, multiple copies of your resume.
Set the Tone.
- This is sales. Not a support role. Not an IT or Accounting role. You MUST come in with great energy, and great enthusiasm. This matters…especially in sales!
Don’t Talk in General…Be SPECIFIC about Your Success.
- Some very common feedback we hear from hiring managers on a regular basis is that a candidate was too general in their replies and answers.
- When asked questions about your success, talk in specifics. Talk about how you were over 100% of goal last year. Talk about how you grew sales revenue in your territory from $1.2 million to $3.2 million in the past few years. Talk about a specific client that you landed. Talk about a time when you faced a challenge in your sales process, and then specifically what you did to overcome it and still land the business.
- This is one of the biggest areas where a candidate fails in the sales interview process. Remember, this is a sales position that you are interviewing for. At the end of the day…the company wants someone that can drive revenue, land new accounts, and bring in big profits.
- Think about your answers, and how they relate to the job. For example, if this is a role that requires you to hunt for new business, don’t imply to the client that you don’t love cold calling. Or that you just want to handle existing accounts. No one LOVES cold calling…it’s simply part of the job. So think about what you are saying, and the message you’re giving out, before you speak.
Ask Great Questions!
- And not questions about the pay or vacation time. Real questions…about the company, about the sales territory, about competitors, about their products, market share, career growth potential, and more.
- Ask the hiring manager about themselves…what is their background, why did they come to work for the company, etc. People love to talk about themselves.
Treat the Hiring Manager As a Sales Prospect.
- Everyone who is great in sales knows that the best sales professionals are not the ones that talk endlessly, but are the ones that listen very well. The hiring manager is your prospect, and your product/service is YOU. During this process, through asking great questions, take the time to really listen to the answers. As you listen, actively take notes, get a feel from these answers as to what this person is really looking for in the new hire. Find their real problem, their real need. Then adapt your replies, your “sales pitch”, to meet your prospect’s needs…relative to your professional background.
Show Genuine Interest in the Company that You Are Interviewing With.
- Don’t give the impression that this is just one of dozens of jobs that you are interviewing for. No one wants to think they are your second choice. Focus your comments and your attention to this job, this company and this industry. If you are meeting with a VP of Sales for a Building Products company, and you tell them your ultimate career goal is to sell for a Medical Device company…you will not get this job, even if you are a fit. A company wants to invest in a person that always wants to invest long term in them.
Go for the Close!
- If you want the job, ask for it at the end. We will often hear feedback from our hiring managers that they liked the candidate, but since the candidate was afraid to go for the close…they may be afraid to go for the close while selling a customer. And that is usually a red flag in the process. Ask for the job, ask for the offer, ask for the next interview. Take the initiative.
Send a Thank You!
- Always, ALWAYS, send a follow up note and/or e-mail after you leave. Remember to get the person’s business card before you leave. In that thank you, reiterate your interest, and thank them again for their time. You might even highlight one or two specifics that, based on the meeting you just had, make you the perfect fit for the role!
So to summarize…landing the interview is only the very first step in securing your dream job! Take the time to review, plan, and prepare. Follow the steps above, bring your “A” game, and come with a great energy level!
By Jason Connors, Co-Founder of AllSearch Professional Staffing – National Search Firm focused on placing skilled Sales Professionals in North America since 2002.
Contact Jason or the AllSearch Team today for more advice on your sales career search, or to find a great new Sales or Management career opportunity! Find our more at www.AllSearchInc.com.