Traditional interviews are stressful. Interviews for sales jobs can be even more stressful, since you’re being judged on your ability to sell yourself. One of the best ways to ensure that you knock it out of the park is to practice. With that in mind, we’re presenting you with the most common sales interview questions—and even better, how to answer them! (Click here to read part one, questions one through four).
5. How much time do you spend talking versus listening?
It’s a little counterintuitive, but the most effective salespeople do the least talking. Understandably, prospects don’t want to be assaulted with information. You’ll be far more persuasive with two points than six.
In addition, prospects will give you valuable information about their pain points, goals, and desires—but only if you’re asking questions and listening instead of chattering.
How to answer: Your interviewer isn’t looking for a specific ratio like, “I talk 25% of the time and listen 75%.” They simply want to see if you understand the importance of listening.
To show the interviewer you do, say something along the lines of, “For the the majority of the conversation, I’m either asking questions or listening. I try to speak as little as I can while still showing the prospect the value of my product.”
Be sure to put a conscious effort into making your answer a reality during your sales calls.
6. What do you know about our product?
Whether you’re applying for a role in sales, marketing, engineering, finance, HR, operations—or any department, really—you’ll get at least one question about the company’s product. These are designed to see how much research you’ve done (or not); plus, if you’ve said you’re passionate about the organization, your answer will reveal how truthful you were being.
That being said, this question is especially important for a sales position. After all, you’ll be on the front lines selling the product. If you didn’t bother to research it beforehand, you probably won’t be a successful or dedicated rep.
How to answer: First and foremost, make sure you spend plenty of time prepping for this question. Before you walk in the door, know the company’s target market. If they have a suite of products, understand the separate offerings and how they complement each other. Look into the history of the product: Has it changed over time? If so, how and why? What are the product’s strengths and weaknesses?
It may seem like a lot—but you’ll be glad you did this research when you get the next question.
7. Pretend I’m a prospect. How would you sell me on our product?
In sales interviews of old, candidates were often asked to sell miscellaneous objects—a pen, paperweight, mug, etc. These days, interviewers usually ask the candidate to role-play a realistic scenario.
This request is definitely nerve-wracking. However, if you are prepared, and stay calm, you can tackle it like a champion.
How to answer: Rather than immediately jumping into your pitch, diagnose your interviewer’s pain. To give you an idea, maybe you’re applying for a company that sells employee scheduling software. You could ask, “How do you currently schedule employees?” After they reply, you might say, “Hmm—it sounds like you’re having a little trouble dealing with last-minute absences. Would you say that changing the schedule on the fly is a fairly big issue for you?”
Once you’ve identified one or two of your “prospect’s” challenges, present a personalized pitch. Your interviewer will be impressed.
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