If there’s one event that’s always a given when advancing your sales career, it’s sitting through an interview.
Whether it’s your first sales role or your dream position, nailing the interview is key to moving up. And same as with sales meetings, a successful interview is all about preparation.
So, what can you do to prepare?
One of the best ways to wow recruiters and clinch the sales job is to come up with answers to the most common sales interview questions beforehand.
This guide covers some of the most common interview questions for sales reps. And along the way, we’ll be looking at a few tips on coming up with the best answers as well as examples you can learn from.
Before hopping into the seven sales interview questions, it’s important to remember that interviews are won and lost on Preparation below. So be sure to follow sales interview tips beforehand to ensure the best chances of success.
- Do Your Research – An sales representative that proves they’ve done their due diligence is already a step ahead of the rest in the mind of the hiring manager. Learn more about the company and, if you can, the interviewer. Study their product line in-depth and get a sense of how they’re received in the market. Examine competitors and what they’re doing right. Even in interviews, knowledge is power.
- Create Your 30-60-90 Day Sales Plan – Your goal of this interview should be to prove you’re an exceptional salesperson. And developing a 30-60-90 Day Sales Plan does just that. This plan outlines exactly how you plan on achieving success during your first three months on the job. Done well; it’ll impress interviewers and tip the scale in your favor.
- Come With Your Own Interview Questions To Ask – This one is vital. Few things raise a recruiter’s critical eyebrow, like applicants that don’t ask questions. A thoughtful question indicates you’re interested in the company and role. But it also shows you’re active listening ability. Ask about their current sales team, the culture, quotas, and more. But above all else, ask something.
- Get In the Right Headspace – Beyond the typical pre-interview advice (get a good night’s sleep, exercise to relieve stress, remember to eat, etc.), you’ll want to think of your interview as a sales meeting. If you can’t sell yourself, then how will your employer know you can sell their products?
Sales Interview Questions & Answers to Prepare for
When it comes time for the big day, there are a few common sales interview questions recruiters will ask sales candidates. And the more prepared you are to answer them, the better your odds for winning the position.
Below are seven of the most common sales position interview questions. You’ll also find some example answers on how to answer that’ll help you stand out as an ideal candidate and get started in a career in sales.
1) Describe Your Sales Experience For Me
Winning Tip: This is a great time to share work experience as well as earned accolades. Complex numbers work wonders, and you should highlight any specific distinctions you’ve acquired throughout your career.
If you’re starting, be upfront about it, of course. But be sure to build on that by letting them know why you’re excited about this position and any experiences outside of work that make you a great sales candidate.
“I earned the distinction of top salesperson for five years running at my past position.”
“I exceeded my quota by 20% in my first year at [former employer].”
“While I don’t have any direct experience in sales, I was president of the debate club and the head of fundraising in college. I’ve also wanted to work for [recruiter’s business] for years.”
2) What’s Your Primary Motivation On the Job?
Winning Tip: You’ll want to steer clear of financial reasons alone (“It pays the bills”). Instead, the answer to this sales interview question should tie your motivations to a beneficial character trait you possess. Keep things positive too. For example, while competition can be a helpful motivator, you don’t want to come off as someone who’ll do anything to get ahead, especially if you’re a part of a larger sales team.
“I love the fact that positions like these have a direct payoff for hard work and strategic thinking. I thrive under that type of structure, and it motivates me to try to get better at what I do continually.”
“Rather than just wanting to make a sale, I get a lot of satisfaction out of solving a client’s problems. If they have an issue that’s holding them back from growing, I’m in a position to help them solve it. And that’s always been a rewarding experience.”
3) How Do You Think Our Company Can Improve?
Winning Tip: This is where your research and your 30-60-90 Day Sales Plan come in handy. Your sales plan is ofren the quickest way to a hiring mangers heart.
A strong sales plan shows a sales manager that you can work with team members, you know the steps to close a deal, the company culture and how to set sales goals.
You can also outline your previous sales plans and your track record in realising them in your prior sales positions. This is your opportunity to turn the interview process on it’s head and have sales managers trying to close you!
Cite specifics here. What are you bringing to the table besides just being another body on the sales team? Is it organizational experience that you can apply to their current sales process? Are there any gaps in their marketing strategy you noticed during your research?
Be thoughtful and constructive here.
“I noticed your social media presence is a bit lacking. This might be why you’re having problems attracting a core demographic and keeping them engaged over the long-term.”
“In my years at [previous employer], I developed and refined a series of sales cadences that worked particularly well among your target audience.”
4) Describe Your Best Memory of Making a Sale
Winning Tip: A great route to take here is mentioning a time when you overcame serious challenges while closing a deal. It could be when you convinced a whale client to switch legacy vendors, a lead was particularly hesitant but came around, a competitor swooped in and almost took the sale, etc. The point is to show that you’re resilient and enjoy going the extra mile to close the deal.
“My best memory of making a sale was when a considerable buyer just wasn’t convinced we were the vendor for them. Though our sales meeting was scheduled for just one hour, I spent the entire morning with them answering questions, describing use cases, and demoing the products.
I wanted them to know I was passionate about helping them achieve success. And eventually, they realized I wasn’t there just to make a sale—I was there to solve their problem. We closed on the deal that day.”
5) What’s the Biggest Mistake You Made During a Sale?
Winning Tip: Honesty is essential here. Humble brags (“I was too attentive to their needs” etc.) come off inauthentic and off-putting. Instead, think of a time you did mess up. And finish the story with how you rectified that mistake or implemented the lesson you learned from it.
“I remember one sales meeting; I spent far too much time talking about our product features rather than the benefits. As a result, at the end of what I thought was an incredibly educational meeting, the buyers still didn’t know they would get value from our product.
In our follow-up exchanges, I made sure to tailor my language to focus on how those features provide tangible value. And eventually, they changed their minds and signed on!”
6) Have You Ever Been on a Sales Team You Didn’t Like? Why?
Winning Tip: This one is meant to throw you off. And answered inappropriately; it can be a dealbreaker. You’ll want to avoid especially harsh statements here. For example, describing your old team as “lazy, dimwitted, and annoying” may be true. But they reflect on you negatively and make you come off as judgmental or hard to work with.
Instead, try to highlight business-related problems and, specifically, what you did to help overcome those problems.
“At my previous employer, our sales team was consistently falling short of our monthly goals. And despite being a fantastic motivator, our manager wasn’t particularly good at problem-solving. So it was left to the reps to define and refine our own sales processes to meet our numbers.
After I developed a successful process, I shared what I learned with the team, and we closed more deals than ever.”
7) Sell Me This Pen
Winning Tip: You’ll inevitably run into the classic “sell me this pen” question at some point in your selling career. And what you choose to focus on here is critical. Rather than starting out with all the features and benefits of the pen you can possibly think of, try starting with active listening. Figure out what problem they’re trying to solve first. And only then move into the pitch.
“I’d like to know if you’ve used a pen in the past. What about it did you like? What did you hate? How are you going to be using this pen? What’s your ballpark price range for what you’d like to spend on a pen?
Based on what you’ve told me, it looks like this pen is the perfect way to achieve [repeat their goals for using the pen]. Here’s why.”
Proper Preparation = Better Chances of Getting the Job
Whether it’s your dream role at your ideal employer or simply the first step to your perfect career, you can nail your interview and land the position. It just takes a bit of preparation and knowing how to show recruiters that you’re the candidate they’ve been looking for.
So study these seven sales interview questions and start coming up with your strategic answers. When you do, you’ll be better prepared to sell yourself as the sales superstar you know you are.