Sales is one of the best careers out there, and one of the highest paying if you find the right company and industry (more on this later).
But how do you prepare for a sales job interview to land the job? This article is going to show you EXACTLY how, in detail, step-by-step.
If you have a sales job interview coming up or you’re hoping to find a sales job, then you do NOT want to miss this. Let’s get started…
Let’s talk about what is different in a sales job interview first. Then I’ll cover some basic interview preparation tips that anyone should follow.
First off, when you prepare for a sales job interview you need to show that you’re driven and motivated.
Sales has its ups and downs and companies don’t want to worry that they’re hiring someone who will constantly need encouragement if they have a bad week. So prepare to show them you’re resilient and have faced challenges in your life and career.
That brings me to the next point. You need to show them that you KNOW that this is a part of working in sales. The ups, the downs, the challenges. Hearing “no” multiple times per day. So you need to show them that you know this is how it works.
There’s also another difference between sales job interviews and every other type of job interview out there. Most of the time in sales job interviews, it’s okay to talk about money and say you’re motivated by money. So prepare a few reasons for why you want this job, and don’t be afraid to include high earnings potential as one reason (if the job does indeed provide a high earnings potential).
If you already work in sales… you should be able to explain why you like it and want to continue doing it.
If you’re preparing to interview for your first sales job, this is even more important. Have a reason for why you’re interested in sales in general.
I’ve interviewed plenty of recent graduates and entry level candidates for sales positions in one of my former companies. And we would NOT hire you if you didn’t know why you wanted to work in sales.
And also, it’s a big “red flag” if our company is the only sales position you’re applying for. If I ask what other jobs you’re looking at, and none of them are sales, I’m going to wonder why you’re here (and then I’m not going to hire you).
So lie if you have to, but don’t tell the interviewer that their job is the only sales position you are interviewing for.
You need to show them you’re excited about this stuff if you want them to hire you.
So raise your energy level a bit for the interview and try to match the person you’re speaking to. If they’re energetic and excited, add a bit of that to your own communication.
If you’re on a phone interview, stand up and smile while you talk. Those are two ways to change how you sound.
I’m not telling you to be completely fake. Tons of GREAT salespeople are introverts. I am, and I did fine working in sales. But you can’t go into the interview mumbling under your breath and acting half asleep if you want to get the job.
Having low energy is one of the top reasons for not getting hired in a sales job interview.
This is going to be tougher if you’re interviewing for an entry level job and you have no sales experience. But try to think of ways to do this either way…
When you preparing for a sales job interview, the hiring manager is going to want to hear specific examples of past accomplishments that relate to the job. Talking on the phone, convincing people to see things your way, being a good listener, overcoming objections, dealing with failures and setbacks, etc.
If you’ve worked in sales before, you’ll want to give specific results you achieved. Get detailed, talk about exact numbers and accomplishments. I recommend this on your resume too FYI.
But even if you’re a recent graduate or entry level job seeker without sales experience… you can talk about using persuasion to make people see things your way, or how you convinced somebody of something in a class project or internship.
You can also definitely talk about a challenge you’ve overcome, and a time a project didn’t go how you expected but you overcame the obstacle.
Those are two things you’re almost sure to be asked about.
This is important when preparing for any interview, but is especially important in sales. Why? because things tend to get tough in sales, and the hiring manager wants to make sure you have a powerful motivator so you don’t give up and quit.
This one big motivator can be many things: The desire to build a career you’re proud of. The desire to earn a lot of money and buy nice things for your family. A love of challenges and pushing your limits professionally. A passion for talking to people, using persuasion, etc. Or come up with your own reason for why you get out of bed and go to work each morning. But have one big, powerful reason.
These are questions that start with phrases like: “tell me about a time you…”
Come up with one of the following:
There are over 50 behavioral questions you could be asked, but these are things you’re likely to be asked in almost every sales interview.
If you want more help, I cover over 130 questions in my complete guide to job interview answers and I also share an easy 4-step method for answering any behavioral question correctly. Go ahead and check it out now if you think it might help you.
Next up, I’m going to cover some basics you should know for any interview, including your sales interview.
There’s some basic stuff you should do to prepare for any interview. I cover it in-depth in this interview preparation article, but here’s the basic idea…
You should know all of these things before the start of your interview (and be able to explain them well)…
You should also know all of these things about the company…
If you’ve done everything above you’re in much better shape than most people walking into a sales job interview.
People aren’t going to know what hit them with some of these questions that I covered here. And you will.
Don’t forget to practice your answers at home though. Nothing comes out perfect the first time.
And if there’s one final thing I want to stress/repeat to you, it’s this: Really prepare a lot to talk about why you want to work in sales or why you enjoy working in sales.
Most companies have their own sales training methods, their own scripts for emailing and calling, etc. So they’ll teach you the “how”.
But they need to make sure you’re motivated and that you know what you’re getting into (a rewarding, but emotionally-challenging career).
They will not hire you if you act like you think sales will be easy and won’t come with big challenges. Because when things get tough, they want to make sure you’ll stick around.
Note: I’ve talked about sales being a great, high paying career a few times now. If you’re wondering why, and what type of sales jobs are best, read this article.