How to prepare before your sales interview

BY PEYMANEH CHYCHI

Congratulations!

You have successfully advanced to a first interview with one of our clients. This job is now within your grasp and it is up to you to ensure you put your best foot forward. Following are some simple tips and advice for how to prepare for—and conduct yourself during and after—this interview.

The most important thing to remember

Approach the interview as though it is a sale – the product you are selling is you! Do not think you can “wing” an interview: preparation = success. Whether this is your dream job or a role that you are not sure you want yet, prepare thoroughly and always aim to get further short-listed for the role. You can always reject a job that you do not want, but you can never take back a bad first impression.

Preparation

  1. Make sure you know the time, location and details/role of the person you will be interviewing with.
  2. Thoroughly explore the Company’s website to get a feel for its products and services, its culture, and how it positions itself to its customers
  3.  Read the job profile thoroughly and ensure you understand what you would specifically be responsible for in this role
  4. Ask your Sales Talent Agent why they are recommending you to move forward (this will help you understand why they think you are a good fit for the role and what the client has asked them for). Make sure you also ask what—if any—”red flags” they have about you that may put off their client (e.g. gaps in your resume that you have not adequately explained
  5. List the reasons why you think you are a great fit for this specific role and prepare success stories/anecdotes that support this (e.g.: you exceeded quota each of the last 3 years and were the top performer on your team)
  6. List the reasons why you may not be the “ideal” candidate and prepare to address those concerns
  7. Prepare 5 appropriate questions that you want to ask. IMPORTANT: know the difference between an appropriate question (e.g. What are some of the challenges a person will face in their first 6 months in this role?) and an inappropriate question (e.g. How quickly can I be promoted?)
  8. Know your metrics: what was your quota in your last 2-3 roles? What percentage of quota did you hit? What percentage of these sales were net-new business? How did you rank compared to other sales reps in the same role? Were you responsible for sourcing your own leads?  Remember: your interviewer is looking for proof that you are a great sales professional who can meet and exceed set goals, so be prepared to talk about this. If you have ANY documentation of your sales performance, or any positive letters from your clients or superiors, make sure to bring these to your interview. Proof of accomplishments is worth 1000 words and can definitely help differentiate you from the crowd

Timing

  1. Never be late for an interview. Traffic is never a good excuse (it makes you look unprepared, and great sales people are NEVER unprepared). Plan to be at the interview location 15-minutes prior to the interview BUT only walk into the office 5 minutes prior to your appointment
  2. If your interviewer is running late, use this time to try and find out more about the company. Read the magazines/internal newsletters in the reception area; watch how people within the company engage with you and each other; engage politely with the reception staff and stay off your phone (unless in an emergency)

Nerves

It is okay to be nervous—you SHOULD be nervous! If you are too confident, you likely are not well prepared and are taking this opportunity or the interviewer too lightly. Take some deep breaths, keep a smile on your face, and don’t let the nerves over-power you.