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6 Fatal Sales Interview Mistakes

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

My 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 my…

6 Fatal Sales Interview Mistakes

No Follow up Email Post Interview. I go into detail on this topic in my blog Why You Must Send “Follow-up” Emails. And yes, my candidate in the example above would have had the job. My client told me as much. This costly sales interview mistake is the easiest the fix.

Talking too Much During the Interview. I’m a bit conflicted about including this one on my list as my goal with this blog is to help A Players avoid easy sales interview mistakes. On that note, if you’re in an interview and you’re talking too much you probably do that on sales calls as well. How are you ever going to understand your clients’ needs and goals if that’s the case? I’m not saying that sales reps that talk a lot can’t sell but it sure doesn’t help. If this is you, this problem is most likely impacting all aspects of your sales career.

Failure to do Research. This one is key. I understand how a busy, focused sales rep 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 the only insight a potential manager has into how you approach work. For a deeper explanation I’ve previously blogged on How to Prepare for a Sales Interview.

Failure to Practice Before the Interview. Going into a potentially career changing interview without practice is perhaps the most common of these 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 you anticipate some tough questions stage a mock interview prior to the main event. Have a former manager or colleague who has interviewed and hired sales professionals do a run through with you.

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 about the client’s needs. Showing them how bad 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 look for is a genuine interest in their position. The time for you to evaluate whether or not you’re a fit for this position is 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 indeed, a top performer, you’ll need to prove it. I show you how to document and present your accomplishments in my blog How to Use a Brag Book.

Although there are countless other sales interview mistakes I’ve seen committed; these 6 cover the ones I see most frequently. 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.

You can find Chris Carlson on LinkedIn or contact him directly at:
[email protected].