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Can You Answer This Sales Interview Question?

The B2B sales landscape is dramatically more complex than it was even 5 years ago. Buyers are better informed and more sophisticated requiring sales professionals to change their sales approach. Interestingly, sales interview processes haven’t kept up with this reality. That’s changing. More and more, we see hiring managers ask some variation of the following sales interview question.

“Can you explain to me your plan for hitting your sales quota this year?”

Most experienced sales professionals do a surprisingly poor job of answering this simple but vitally important question. Here’s how we evaluate sales reps’ answers to this question.

Does She Have a Plan?

  • Does she wing it or follow a reasonably structured approach to success?
  • Does she think tactically, strategically or neither? (hint – luck is neither a tactic nor a strategy.)
  • Has she turned her thoughts into a simple, executable plan?

In addition to assessing a sales rep’s strategic skills, this question gives insight into how organized she is. 

Is He Credible?

The only thing more important than building a solid plan is following it. Does he answer this question with what we call an “ideal world” plan? As we question and press a rep with an overly ambitious plan, we invariably find that he rarely, if ever, follows his plan. It’s a best-case scenario. Rather than helping his case, he’s now left us questioning his credibility. 

This is the point during the interview where we ask him how he gets back on track when his plan goes sideways.

Is “The Plan” Repeatable?

Is luck required to hit quota with this plan? For example, we often see sales professionals exceed quota by landing one big account each year. If that’s the case, does he maintain a big enough pipeline of monster prospects to repeat this? Does he have a plan B if “the big one” doesn’t come through this year?

Are You Ready to Answer This Sales Interview Question?

It’s one thing to have a plan and another to be able to smoothly articulate it.

  • Is your plan written down?
  • Have you practiced explaining your plan?
  • Would your explanation make sense to someone outside of your company?
  • Is it clear and concise?

Taking the time to build and follow an annual plan to exceed quota will do a lot more than help you land a better sales job. We guarantee it will increase the odds of you hitting or exceeding quota with the sales job you already have.


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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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