How to Successfully Answer Interview Questions for a Sales Position

how to answer interview questions for a sales position

Before you walk into an interview, you likely have already researched what the company does and closely studied the job description for the specific sales position you are applying for. While there are many steps things you should be doing in preparation for an interview as a sales representative, you also need to know how to respond well in the moment during your interview.

As a sales representative, you have to be on top of your game in the interview. Sales is a highly competitive field full of charismatic personalities—you’ll have to make an impression on your interviewer if you hope to have a chance working at the company of your dreams. So how do you successfully answer interview questions for a sales position?

To be successful in a sales interview, think of your interviewer as a client.

To be successful in a #salesinterview, think of your interviewer as a client, says @SINYCDave Click To Tweet

As a sales representative, you will be the face of the company. Essentially, you are your own brand. You need to sell your services and worth to your interviewer (aka: the client). The hiring manager will be observing you closely to determine whether you are a team player and whether the energy that you bring will be able to sell their product or services. If you can’t sell yourself to the company looking to hire you, you most likely wouldn’t  be able to effectively do the job even if you did somehow get it.

No matter how much experience you have or how many times you have sat in the interview “hot seat,” there’s always room for improvement. If you are looking to boost your sales interview techniques to land your dream sales job, you need to know how to answer tough questions with ease. Here are a few ways you can convince your interviewer to hire you:

Tips for a Successful Sales Interview, by @SINYCDave Click To Tweet

1. Have you continually met your sales goals?

Your interviewer will want to dig in right away to know if you have what it takes to contribute to the company’s sales growth. As a salesperson, you’re always driving to meet a quota—you can’t afford to waste time in closing a huge sale and your hiring manager will likely follow the same logic. They want to know that you will be an asset to their team, not a stumbling block, and that you can be direct and to-the-point in closing them on you as a candidate. Have a few of your major achievements in your back pocket—directly related to sales or, if you’re a career changer, similarly demonstrative of your ability to hit goals (preferable numerical goals). Be ready to speak to these accomplishments when the moment is right.

Show your interviewer that you can be direct + close a sale quickly, says @SINYCDave Click To Tweet

2. What motivates you to sell?

Steer clear of any generic responses for this question. Use your answer to elaborate on and showcase your strengths and character. Avoid cliches such as saying you “love the thrill of the chase”—instead, focus on providing a tactical and descriptive response about how, for example, a difficult sales challenge helps you to continually push yourself to succeed and become better at your job.

What motivates you to sell? Avoid cliche responses in your #interview, says @SINYCDave Click To Tweet

3. Sell me [this object].

This is oldest sales interview trick in the book. While it’s been around long enough not to completely catch you off guard, it can still be a daunting situation. The key to impressing your hiring manager in this particular interview request is to focus not on the object itself, but what benefits it can bring to the  specific consumer (aka: the interviewer). For example, the hiring manager may ask you to sell a pen or other item sitting on his or her desk. Instead of telling the interviewer how great the pen is, begin as any customer-focused salesperson would—by asking the hiring manager questions about what is most important to her when shopping for a pen. Ultimately, you should tailor your sales pitch to the interviewer’s needs as she expresses them—not to what you assume those needs will be.

Most importantly, with any sales interview, you want to make sure you are presenting yourself in an authentic and meaningful way. Good sales people leave a lasting impression on the people they encounter, which is why you should channel this same energy into each of your interviews. Be confident and build rapport with your interviewer—remember that they’re not just looking for a new sales rep, they’re looking for a new coworker.

Remember- Your hiring manager is looking for a new XXXX + a new coworker, says @SINYCDave Click To Tweet

Want to build or advance your career in high-growth sales? Download our free syllabus to learn about our sales and account management trainings.

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Dave Yourgrau

David is the NYC associate director and head of partnerships, and loves connecting amazing companies with Startup Institute. Prior to Startup Institute, David served as a consultant helping develop sales and marketing strategies at early stage startups. He has also done sales and partnerships at tech companies such as LevelUp, Offerpop, Adaptly, and Truly Wireless. Outside of work, Dave loves following sports, history, and politics. He received his BA in political philosophy from Ursinus College.

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