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Sales Interview Preparation: Candidate Side

by Trish Bertuzzi on Fri, May 09, 2008

Update: We've shared a new list of sales interview questions (+ a video).

Today's guest blogger, Rose Mauriello, is the President and Founder or RRM Staffing a Boston based contingency search firm that specializes in Inside Sales candidates. 

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Preparing for a Sales Job Interview:
The most important step in the process is that the candidate takes the time to do their homework.

Company homework:
  • Research the company by thoroughly reviewing their website
  • Read recent press releases
  • Download a product demo and participate in a webinar (if possible)
  • Be ready to articulate the company's value proposition
  • Research the industry
  • Learn who the competitors are and what differentiates them from the company you are meeting with
  • Find out who you will be meeting with in advance and read their biographies. Look them up on LinkedIn and Google.

Personal homework:
  • Know your strengths and be able to articulate them
  • In practicing your responses to standard interview questions, make sure to include concrete examples of what you have done in the past that demonstrates your skills, experience and capabilities
  • Know all of the details (you can bring a "cheat sheet" with you) on your past quota numbers and your actual performance as well as specifics on all relevant metrics
  • Keep a list of key customers you have sold to and notes about the sales process for each situation

Anticipate and prepare for typical questions that you will be asked such as:
  • "Tell me about yourself".
  • "Why are you considering leaving your current position"?
  • "Tell me about a competitive sales situation you were involved with and what you did to win the deal".
  • "Who do you sell to? What is your sales cycle and average deal size?"
  • "Tell me how you prospect to build the pipeline?"
  • "How do you organize your day? Tell me about what you do from the time you arrive at work until you leave".
  • "What are your strengths and weaknesses"?
  • "Why are you interested in our company"?
  • "Where do you see yourself in five years"?

Plan on asking several key questions such as:
  • "What is the greatest challenge offered by this position?"
  • "How is success defined for this position?"
  • "How many sales reps are currently exceeding quota?"
  • "What are the greatest challenges your company faces?"
  • "What are some potential career paths within your company?"

During initial interviews it is generally not a good idea to ask about compensation and benefits. You want the company to be sold on you before getting to this point.

Be sure to close at the end of the interview. The best way to do this is to ask: "Do you have any concerns about my qualifications for this position"? This gives you the chance to overcome any potential objections that you can uncover about your candidacy.

Next step is to let the interviewer know that you are very interested in the position and company. Find out what the next steps are and reiterate your strong interest in taking that next step.

Look your best. Even if the company is "business casual", dress professionally as you would for a customer meeting. Wear conservative, but current clothing, shoes, etc. Do not wear overpowering cologne/perfume. Know the location/directions and plan on arriving at least 15 minutes early. Bring a notebook and pen - taking notes definitely shows interest and commitment. Get business cards from each person you meet with. Within 24 hours, send meaningful thank you e-mails that reiterate your interest and why you would be the best person to hire.

Good Luck!
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Topics: inside sales tips, recruiting, branding

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