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6 Fatal Sales Interview Mistakes

Recently one of our clients passed on the strongest candidate they interviewed due to a preventable sales interview mistake. The candidate simply failed to send a follow-up email after the interview. We could argue the merits of our client’s rationale for passing on him, but it would be hard to argue that a seasoned sales professional shouldn’t know better.

Our own personal philosophy on interviewing is simple. If it’s worth taking the time to interview for a sales job, it’s worth investing enough time to win. With that in mind, here’s our…

6 Fatal Sales Interview Mistakes

No Follow up Email Post Interview. We go into detail on this topic in our blog Why You Must Send “Follow-up” Emails. And yes, the candidate in the example above would have had the job if he had followed up. This costly sales interview mistake is the easiest to fix.

Talking too Much During the Interview. Here’s why hiring managers hate this mistake. If you’re in an interview and you’re talking too much, you probably do the same during sales calls. How will you ever understand your client’s needs and goals if that’s the case? If this is you, this problem is most likely impacting all aspects of your sales career.

Failure to do Research. This one is key. We understand how busy, focused sales reps might have limited time to do research before an interview but that doesn’t get you off the hook. How you approach the interview is a potential manager’s only insight into how you approach your work. For a deeper explanation, we’ve previously blogged on How to Prepare for a Sales Interview.

Failure to Practice Before the Interview. Going into a potential, career-changing interview without practice is perhaps the most common of the 6 fatal sales interview mistakes. At a minimum, sales professionals should go on one interview a year to stay fresh. If interviews make you nervous or anticipate some tough questions, stage a mock interview before the main event. Have a former manager or colleague who has interviewed and hired sales professionals do a run-through with you. Use our list of top sales interview questions (which includes example answers) to get prepared.

Lack of Interest Shown During the Interview. There’s a fundamental difference between a sales call and an interview when it comes to showing how much you “want it.” During a sales call, the emphasis should be on the client’s needs. Showing them how badly you want to make the sale will usually cause a client to question who will actually benefit from the purchase. When interviewing for a sales job, a big ingredient most managers seek is genuine interest in their position. You can evaluate whether or not you’re a fit for this position after the interview.

Failure to Document Sales Results. It’s sad, but it’s also true that most sales professionals exaggerate their sales accomplishments. There’s just too much to gain and close to no penalty if caught in a lie. If you are a true top performer, you can separate yourself from other candidates by proving it. We show you how to document and present your accomplishments in our blog, How to Use a Brag Book.

Although we’ve seen countless other sales interview mistakes committed, these 6 cover the ones most frequently seen. Consider yourself warned/armed.

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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. Our posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

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