A typical interview question for any job, including a sales job, is “What do you know about this company?”
It is particularly important to know about the company on a sales interview. In sales, you will have to explain to clients why your company’s services or products are the best. To do this, you have to know the company and their offerings inside and out.
Answering this question well shows that you have what it takes to be a strong salesperson at the organization.
Below are some tips and sample answers for the interview question, "What do you know about this company?"
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
Employers ask this question to get a sense of how well you have prepared for the interview. Similar questions are, “Why do you want to work for this company?” and “How do you think our company stands out from our competitors?”
In particular, they want to know whether you’ve taken the time to research their products, their targeted client base, their marketing strategies, and their current market performance.
How to Prepare for the Question
To answer the question well, you have to research the company before your interview. You can do a lot of this research on the company’s website. Check out their “About Us” section to get a sense of the company’s history, its mission, and its successes.
If you know anyone who works for the company, you might also ask to meet with them before the interview to get an insider’s perspective on the company.
In sales job interviews, knowing about the company’s sales record is particularly important. You want to know what they sell, their sales strategies, and any particular sales successes they have had recently. You can get some of this information on the company’s website. Often, they will provide information about sales successes on their “About Us” page, or a page that includes public relations and marketing information.
You might also look at popular websites or journals that talk about the company and its competitors to get a sense of where the company stands amid its competition.
How to Answer the Question
When answering the question, “What do you know about the company?” focus on one or two particular elements of the company’s sales record that stand out to you. For example, perhaps they had a particularly strong sales year recently, or they began to develop a new product. Noting these successes will show you have done your research, and that you believe in the company.
Make a list of the quantifiable sales successes or growth statistics of the company, then be sure to mention these numbers or percentages in your response (double-checking them for accuracy before the interview).
In your answer, emphasize your enthusiasm for the company. You might even end your answer by saying that, based on these things you know about the company, you are very excited at the prospect of being part of the sales team. In your response, be sure to “pitch” how your skills and experiences make you a good fit for the company, based on what you know about them.
Examples of the Best Answers
Here are some examples of approaches to answering questions about the company you’re interested in representing. Note how each candidate has thoroughly researched the history and current market successes of their potential employer.
Example Answer #1
I know that this company is the number one widget wholesaler in the US, with a growing overseas presence in Europe and Asia. Additionally, your sales in China have grown by 25% in the last 3 years, and your widget sales are beginning to outpace the Chinese competition. Domestically, your sales continue to grow steadily, even through the economic downturn. I would love the opportunity to be part of such a fast-paced, trend-setting company. I also believe my experience in both international and domestic sales would make me a great fit.
Why It Works: This response is great because it gets down to “brass tacks”: the candidate obviously has studied the company’s recent sales history, and she quotes important statistics. She also creates a good segue into discussing how her own international and domestic experience could benefit the employer should they hire her.
Example Answer #2
This company was rated one of Forbes "America's Best Small Companies" in 2019, and has shown consistent growth in the market. Your sales have surpassed expectations, and your innovative products and sales techniques have made you one of the most desirable companies to work for in the US.
Why It Works: Here the candidate shows his understanding of the company’s media presence and its capture of a high ranking on a respected Forbes list. Ideally, he would next build upon this good beginning to talk informatively about the company’s products and about his own competency in using their sales techniques.
Example Answer #3
In my research about this company, I discovered that you had started out over 100 years ago as a small brick and mortar retailer in Center City. As a family-owned business, you had the savvy to grow in unique ways, and when the opportunity chose to go public in 1993, the decision was clear. Since then, the management has continued to make aggressive decisions, keeping your business in the forefront of its competition. I very much appreciate your dual focus on community and innovation; this is something I strive to instill in my current sales team.
Why It Works: This answer hits all of the sweet spots in focusing upon the history and growth of an initially family-owned company and its continuing ties to its local community. Historic “Mom and Pop” businesses often emphasize “community” as a key theme of their branding even after going public; this candidate capitalizes upon this knowledge.
What Not to Say
Don't point out the company’s market failures. It might be tempting to say something like, “ABC Company has been losing market share steadily over the past three years, but I know how to reverse this trend.” However, it’s much safer to focus on their successes. If necessary, spin your answer to refocus on more general market fluctuations: “ABC Company has long been a noted name in the pharmaceuticals sector. But our current market, with the entry of so many generic offerings, can be challenging. You offer both high quality and an established reputation to your customers, and here is how I would position the Cureall™ brand to dominate the southeastern region.”
Sales Job Interview Tips
Before you head out to your interview, review these sales job interview tips so you can convincingly sell your most important product - yourself - to an employer who is well-versed in sales strategies.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- Have you consistently met your sales goals? - Best Answers
- What are your long-term career goals? - Best Answers
- Sell me this pen. - Best Answers
DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Learn everything you can about the company’s history, products and services, sales strategies, and market presence before you go into the interview. Be prepared to present some “hard” statistics quantified with numbers or percentages.
BE ENTHUSIASTIC: Talk about their products to the interviewer as you would to a potential customer, educating them about the product’s benefits, specifications, and market success.
USE THIS QUESTION AS A JUMPING-OFF POINT: In talking about the company’s products and sales techniques, turn the discussion into a “pitch” for how you yourself could hit the ground running as part of their sales organization.