Most sales interviews start with a question about you and end with one about the company. While it is not possible to predict every question in a sales interview, research and experience tell us that they are usually derivatives of the most commonly asked sales interview questions.
So, today, we’re going to shed light on the top sales interview questions along with their answers to help you ace the interview round!
Top 15 Sales Interview Questions: What They Want to Know and How to Answer
1. Tell us a Bit About Yourself.
This question usually sets the tone for the rest of the interview. As a salesperson, consider it the most important pitch of your career. This is how interviewers get an insight into your ability to sell something. They are also trying to gain a basic idea of the kind of person you are.
Furthermore, interviewers pay close attention to how you describe yourself to see if it is in alignment with the experiences and career-related details you share in due course of the interview.
Start by stating who you are and what position you are applying for. Be honest and passionate about what the job means to you and what different skills and achievements you stand to bring to the company.
You must highlight your core qualities and what makes you indispensable. You might say, “I’m passionate about my goals and not one to shy away from challenges.”
Or “I believe my relationship-building skills are key to achieving my long-term goals. My hard work and persistence will keep me striving for greater heights.”
Share relevant experiences wherever necessary.
2. Tell us About your Most Successful Sale to Date.
When interviewers ask this question, they want to know whether it is sheer luck that brought about significant success in your career or if you possess the skills and knack to convert leads.
This is your chance to create an impactful impression. Do not hesitate from going into details: the specific time, obstacles, people involved, how you eventually closed the deal, and what followed after that. It is imperative that whichever experience you share reflects the best traits that are attributed to a salesman.
3. Are you Good at Making Cold Calls?
This is an important sales experience. Salespeople who are bold, outgoing, and able to start and maintain conversations have a higher chance of closing deals than those who don’t. When interviewers ask this question, they are trying to get an insight into your personality. So, answer this question with an example where you highlight that you backup cold calls by researching the person to better understand his needs.
You might say, “At my last company, I aimed at making at least X cold calls every hour, which would help me generate at least Y warm leads.”
4. Tell me About a Time When you Encountered Failure. What do you Think you Could Have Done Differently?
One of the trademark qualities of salespeople includes taking failures head-on and moving forward from them with lessons for future endeavours. A salesperson must know how to analyze and handle failed attempts.
To answer this question, relate a relevant experience explaining what your objective was, what went wrong, who was involved, and what you learned from the incident. Recruiters are appreciative of honesty.
While answering the second part, keep it short and precise. Let them know that you gathered critical lessons that you now use to avoid similar potential setbacks.
One way of answering it would be — “I feel strongly about spending valuable selling time lamenting about the what-could-have-been and what-ifs of failures. My takeaway from it is to avoid similar mistakes in the future. I see failures are learning lessons and strive to implement the knowledge I gain at every step on fruitful prospects.”
5. Tell me About your Short-Term and Long-Term Career Goals.
Companies want to associate with aspiring individuals who are confident about where they are headed in their careers. It shows that your decisions are backed by a strong clarity in thought. This results in motivated and driven workers who strive to meet goals.
Briefly summarise the long-term and short-term goals you wish to achieve in your career and explain why they are so important to you.
One way how you can answer this question is — “I am excited about gaining on-the-job experience and upgrading my core competencies as part of a mission-driven organization. I am eager to assess my abilities by taking on higher-level, challenging responsibilities. In the long term, I see myself in a managerial role, so my focus is on improving my leadership skills. I am confident that my near term goals will help me achieve my long term objectives.”
6. How Do you Strike a Balance Between Work and Life?
There are many reasons why an interviewer asks this question. They want to know that your personal life doesn’t affect your calibre in the workplace. Or they simply want to gauge your commitment towards your job.
Base your answer on your research of the company’s values and culture.
Here’s how you can answer this sales interview question — “I understand how important it is to strike a healthy balance between work and professional life. But I’ve realized that it becomes effortless when you enjoy your work and it gives you a sense of contentment. It allows you to pursue your personal life in peace without having to carry office pressures.
I am devoted to my family as much as I am devoted to my work. I ensure that my day-offs are reserved for my close ones. And it also helps that I find sales very exciting which keep me enthusiastic about getting back to work every other day.”
7. If your Colleagues Were to Describe to you, What Would They Say?
Interviewers want to know how good a fit you are for their company environment and whether you would contribute positively to their office culture. Highlight your strengths and what makes you popular amongst your peers.
A sample answer for this would be — “I am known for my persistence and the efforts I put in to maintain healthy relationships with my clients. Also, it’s not uncommon to have disagreements in the workplace. After all, everyone has different styles of working. But, my past experiences tell me that I have a positive and cordial influence on a work atmosphere when it comes to conflict resolutions. And I think my peers would also appreciate my honesty and confidence to stand up for what I believe is right.”
8. How Would you Summarise your Entire Career?
This question is a practical test to determine your attitude towards the profession and the rationale you apply to make important choices. It also gives an insight into your preparation, communication skills, and level of professionalism. Be sure to highlight your skills, significant personal and professional accomplishments, and what keeps you motivated to pursue your goals.
Here’s how you can answer — “My sales career has been marked by ups and downs, more successes than failures, if I may so boldly state. This is what I love about sales because it is as challenging as it is rewarding. It’s where your dedicated efforts, strategic planning, and persistence, actually pay off. In my first year as a sales rep, I had the highest record of sales for 10 out of the 12 months.
What I appreciate about sales is that every experience is a learning opportunity for you to hone and upgrade your skills. And I have had abundant opportunities to learn and get closer to my goals.
I believe in facing challenges head-on and overcoming them rather than running away from them. This is why I know I can fit in any organization. I am confident about my abilities and am dedicated to achieving my goals in life. It has brought me this far and will take me farther ahead.”
9. How do you Stay Updated With the Latest Trends in Sales?
Companies are looking to hire salespeople who constantly work on honing their skills and keep up with the latest industry trends to provide the best solutions to clients.
Let the interviewer know that you are passionate about sales and gaining knowledge. And reading about the industry, checking out the latest blogs and podcasts, and learning ways to improve your craft are a few things that keep sales exciting. Make sure to mention the names of the magazines, books, or blogs you follow.
If you have enlisted in any online or offline sales training program, it is a good idea to talk about it as it shows you are passionate about a long-term career in the field.
10. What is your Process of Generating Leads and Closing Sales Deals?
By asking this question, interviewers want to gauge how effective your sales process is. So, give them step-by-step insight into your mechanism.
Irrespective of which industry you interview for, some core sales qualities are considered valuable by all companies. These include strategic planning, strong listening and communication skills, identifying customer needs and providing appropriate solutions, and time management skills, to name a few. So, be sure to demonstrate these in your sales process. Building and maintaining relationships, negotiation skills, and persuasive powers are also among the leading traits in a successful salesperson.
11. What Do you Know About Our Organization?
This is your big chance to demonstrate your researching skills and your level of interest in securing a job at the company. So, make sure you are prepared with ample background information on the company. Refer credible sources to read about the company and gather input from ex-employees and current employees.
Briefly describe what the organization stands for as per your knowledge, what solutions they provide, and who their targets are. You can also cite the names of their top competitors and draw brief comparisons if you are knowledgeable enough. Let them know that you appreciate specific details about the company. For example, “I appreciate the steps your company takes to make employees feel comfortable and cared for.”
12. Have you Managed to Meet your Sales Goals?
This is to get an idea of your sales history and ideally, an interviewer would be looking for a track record of exceeding sales goals.
There are three key points to touch while answering this:
- Speak of your sales record spanning your career by highlighting your toughest and most significant achievements. You must prepare this list in advance.
- Talk about any failures or rejections you have faced. Let the interviewer know that you believe in putting yourself out there time and again to meet your sales goals. Succeeding in sales means persevering in the face of failures. To say that it doesn’t bother you can sound insensitive as rejections are disappointing. Assert that failures are learning lessons and they keep you grounded and practical.
- Talk about what keeps you motivated to pursue your goals.
Here’s a possible answer to show you are motivated — “The prospect of facing new challenges every day, devising strategies to overcome them, and the unending desire to succeed, keeps me motivated on my career path. This is how I have consistently exceeded or met my sales goals.”
13. Have you Ever Had to Let go of a Client? What Was your Approach?
This question explores a salesperson’s behaviour and the strategies he uses disagreeable circumstances. It shows you are capable of dealing with the unpleasant aspects of a sales job. Through your answer, you should let them know that you feel strongly about preserving a company’s resources and are motivated to provide the best service to a customer.
14. Who Was your Favourite Boss and What Would They Say About you?
This is to judge your flexibility in a work environment. You can’t be too affirmative of them since that might make you come across as someone rigid and inflexible. You might also want to avoid being too critical of their style.
Possible answer: “I believe in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with my bosses. My last boss might say I started as an independent thinker who didn’t understand the importance of being a team player. Since I had experience and an excellent sales record, she believed my team could learn from me which would further bolster my abilities. So, I truly appreciate her for having imparted the necessary values in me. At the same time, I enjoyed the space I had to pursue my process without being micromanaged. That’s another thing I appreciate about her.”
15. Do you Have Any Questions For Me?
This may be the final question an interviewer asks you but it’s not one to take lightly. Make sure you have a list of insightful and well-thought-out questions ready to display your interest and passion for the job. If you encountered some detail you would like to explore during the course of the interview, this is the time to do it.
This is also your chance to get an idea about the inner workings of the company and what would be expected of you if hired.
Here are some questions you can ask:
- “What does a typical day for a salesperson look like at your company?”
- “What are your expectations from someone in this role?”
- “Please tell me about the company culture.”
- “What would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of working at this company?”
- “How would you rate my performance? Is my skill set or level of experience of any concern to you?”
- “How does the hiring process proceed from here?”
These were the top sales interview questions that are asked in a typical sales interview. As we have mentioned a couple of times, preparation is key to ace the interview and land your dream job. So, make sure you go in well-prepared, having conducted the required research on the job and the company.
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