If you are interviewing for a sales position that is a step up from your current one you’ll likely face competition that is already selling at this level. Separating yourself from the field and winning the position is going to require more than looking sharp and bringing a brag book (blog on brag books here) to the interview. Step one in pulling this off, is to properly prepare for a sales interview. This will require a few hours of research.
Keys to Prepare for a Sales Interview.
- Do you have a sense of the company’s value proposition, differentiators and competitive position in the marketplace?
- Can you answer why a company would buy their solution and what problems their offerings solve for their clients?
- Are you ready to give an overview of the company background and history (the classic elevator pitch)?
- Do you understand the role and what the key issues are with this position/role?
- Have you reached out to your network or sales reps for the company via Linkedin to vet the opportunity and get feedback?
Are you ready to explain in detail how you succeed in your current role? Hint: a cliche such as “hard work” is not an acceptable answer. We’re looking for a repeatable process or approach.
Have you compiled employee reviews, emails or awards that speak to your ability to execute on the core challenges with this sales position? Example, an award won for prospecting when you are interviewing for a hunting role.
What steps have you taken to differentiate yourself in your career and are you prepared to speak articulately about it?
How does your unique experience and talents position you to excel in this position?
Research the hiring manager:
- Have you looked up their Linkedin profile and Googled them to learn more about their background and experience?
- If you are going through a recruiter and/or this is a 2nd interview; have you found out what’s important to the Sales Manager and uncovered any pet peeves?
- Do you have connections that are familiar with this hiring manager? Can they give you insight? Can they advocate for you?
Putting it together:
To thoroughly prepare for a sales interview you need to know: why you’re interviewing, what the job is, how you’d approach the position and what skills you have that translate to their environment.
Here’s an example of how you can put your preparation to work during an interview…
Hiring Manager “Please speak to me about the size companies that you are calling on with your current position.”
You “May I ask you a question first?”
Hiring Manager “Absolutely.”
You “From what I understand about this position I would be targeting Major Accounts which your company defines as businesses with 500-1500 employees, is that correct?”
Hiring Manager “For the most part, yes, that covers the customer profile.”
You “With my current role I have been targeting businesses with $10M-$50M in revenue. Many of these target customers fit into the 500-1000 employee range. More notably, I have been recognized for my ability to penetrate the larger companies in my territory which has been a big part of my ability to exceed quota. Unfortunately, I’ve signed on most of the larger clients in my territory which is part of the reason why I’m here today. If you are open to it, I’d like to share a few emails from my manager that speaks specifically to this ability. Would you mind if I shared them with you?”
The above is simply one example of how you can leverage your preparation to separate yourself during the interview. If all of this sounds like quite a bit of work, you’re right. From my perspective, if you’re interviewing for a sales opportunity that could change your career trajectory how could you be comfortable with leaving anything to chance? Prepare for the sales interview, go the extra mile and make it a no-brainer for the hiring manager to select you for the position.