Interview Questions for Sales Jobs: Some Tips to Help You Stand Out

by Emma Rowlands | | April 23, 2017


It's one thing to write an impressive resume and cover letter when applying for your dream sales position, but it's quite another proving during the interview that you're the right salesperson for the job. After all, the average corporate sales job attracts over 250 applications, meaning there's going to be a lot of competition every step of the way.

There are plenty of standardized sales interview questions you'll be asked during an interview. These could be “Tell me about your sales background” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Of course, it's essential you prepare for these questions as thoroughly as possible. But to stand out, why not think up some comprehensive answers to slightly more challenging interview questions to ensure you present yourself as professionally as possible?

Here are some additional questions for you to think about:

How Do You Keep Up to Date on Your Target Market?

A good salesperson is a good researcher. The world around us moves at a fast pace and your employer wants to know you can keep up. Being one step ahead of the game means knowing when a particular customer may be experiencing an economic upturn, a shift in trends or (if your customer is a business) a company restructure.

Market research can be done in your own time and may see your sales rocket as a result. For example, if you sell men's shoes, then market research can very simply involve going on your own shoe shopping trip. During the trip you'd do a spot of people-watching, observe how the customers are behaving and what the largest stores are working towards. Your job is to understand the market in a proactive way.

How Do You Utilize Social Media in Your Selling Process?

More and more businesses are using social media to market and sell a product or service. It is imperative that you not only understand how most social platforms work, but can appreciate the importance of utilizing them.

Social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than the average lead conversion rate. But that's not the only way you can use online platforms. Websites like LinkedIn can offer vital information when it comes to researching companies and people before calling them. If you are a B2B seller, LinkedIn can give you the name of the contact you need, and vital information that'll assist you in engaging that person successfully.

Tell Me About a Sales Experience That Demonstrates Your Work Ethic

Every salesperson has had a losing streak at some point in their careers. This sales interview question gives you an opportunity to show that you've had a negative experience and worked through it using your solid work ethic. You might have had a really difficult customer experience in the past that led to a dead-end with lots of time wasted. You may have completely missed your quota one month after following too many unqualified leads. Identifying and learning from these mistakes shows your potential employer that you have bettered yourself following a challenge.

What Does “Consultative Selling” Mean? Have You Ever Used This Method?

This sales interview question is designed to test your knowledge about particular methods of selling. Even if you are unlikely to be using this sales method in your career, it's always good to be able to demonstrate your knowledge about specific techniques.

Consultative selling is where you put yourself into the shoes of the customer and figure out their specific needs in order to tailor a sales package that suits them. There are 6 stages to this process which you may want to familiarize yourself with: Research, Ask, Listen, Teach, Qualify, Close. The method is customer-focused, with an emphasis on customization and individual requirements.

Tell Me About Your Follow-Up Techniques

Any salesperson worth their salt knows that 80% of sales requires 5 follow ups. But with this comes a lot of skill and technique. After all, you don't want to come across as too pushy, or overly eager to sell.

Given that almost half of sales reps give up on follow ups after 2 attempts, your employer will want to know that you'll be part of the other 50%.

Robert Clay, Entrepreneur and Founder of Marketing Wizdom, advises on putting together a ‘5-No’s-Strategy’. This means that you don't give up on follow-ups until you've heard the word ‘No’ 5 times.

Follow-ups should be scheduled intelligently, with the first call or email taking place the same day as the initial meeting or conversation, and giving preference to early mornings or late afternoons when decision makers are likely to be less busy.

If you're applying for a job in web sales, then you should know that you're 9 times more likely to close a sale if you follow up within 5 minutes. So, part of your strategy should involve rapid, efficient communication with a lead in order to maximize your chances of conversion.

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It's no secret that sales jobs attract a lot of attention, and there are some really talented people out there that you'll be up against when interviewing for a sought-after role. To stand out, you need to think of some strong answers to those all-important curve-ball questions. And don't forget, an interview is a chance to sell yourself - which is exactly what you're good at.

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