If you're interviewing for a sales position, it's likely that you'll be asked about what motivates you to sell.
In your response, aim to share a bit about your character and personality. This question also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your value and explain why you'd be a good hire for the company. After all, no matter what a company makes or manages or perfects or distributes, most are in the business of making money. That's especially true if you're seeking a position in sales.
Get more insight into why interviewers are interested in what motivates you, and take a look at sample answers and tips for coming up with your response to this common sales interview question.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
Interviewers are interested in finding out what keeps you going as a salesperson. By asking this question, they'll get insight into what makes you tick and get a sense of your sales strategy.
While your main motivation may be earning a commission or bonus, try not to make that the focus of your response.
This question can also be a helpful way for interviewers to see if you'll fit in with the company's culture. For instance, if you're motivated by bothyour individual goals and a desire to support your team members, that'll impress a company with a big focus on collaboration and teamwork.
How to Answer "What Motivates You to Sell?"
As a prospective employee—especially one who works in sales—it's in your best interests to be able to show that you'll be a productive, money-making member of the team. Employers seek goal-oriented, motivated employees with the desire and drive to succeed.
When it comes to sales jobs, the need to demonstrate results is even more important. Your paycheck may depend on whether or not you can make a sale, but your employer's bottom line certainly requires you to be able to close the deal. Aim to tie your motivation to sales goals.
The interviewer is going to expect you to be self-directed and motivated by achieving sales goals and targets.
If you have sales experience, share specific examples of what motivated you to achieve success in your previous position(s). Again, the goal is to demonstrate that you can hit targets, that you're self-motivated, and that you can make money for the organization.
Examples of the Best Answers
I am motivated by a challenge. I enjoy spending time showcasing a product and helping the customer understand how it can benefit them.
Why It Works: In this response, the candidate clearly and honestly shares what motivates them and also uses the response as an opportunity to show eagerness to help customers.
I'm motivated by the desire to beat my last record. My goal is to always make larger deals and see bigger numbers and more clients.
Why It Works: Competitiveness is a positive quality in a salesperson! This answer shows that a quality the candidate possesses (competitiveness) will benefit the company (by leading to bigger sales and additional clients). It's always good for a response to highlight a benefit to the company.
I am motivated by innovation. I like to try different things, and I love being in sales because every customer brings the opportunity for a new approach.
Why It Works: This answer shows that the candidate will be creative and won't use the same cookie-cutter approach with every potential customer. That's something many companies will value in an employee.
I like helping clients get the deal they need, even if they don't yet know what they need when we start talking. My goal is always to make a sale that will leave us both happy so that we can continue to grow our business together for years to come.
Why It Works: In this response, the interviewee shows a customer-driven perspective. Most companies are eager to not only sell a product but also ensure that customers like it, so highlighting this kind of perspective is helpful during interviews.
Tips for Giving the Best Answer
- Be authentic. One of the reasons interviewers ask this question is to try to get to know you. Give an honest, genuine response so the interviewer gets a sense of what makes you tick.
- Show your passion. This question is an opportunity for you to share what you're passionate about and what drives you when it comes to selling. Your tone should be enthusiastic and positive.
- Demonstrate that you're self-motivated. When interviewers inquire about a candidate's motivation, they're eager to see if the candidate is self-motivated or needs close supervision to get things done. Use this question as an opportunity to show that your motivation comes from within (not from reminders or requests from a manager).
Demonstrate How You Add Value
It's important to prepare for any job interview, but for a sales job, your primary focus should be on demonstrating value. Come to the table with data that show your worth, e.g., "increased sales volume over 10% for three quarters in a row" or "brought in three Fortune-500 clients in fiscal year 2020."
This information should feature prominently in your resume and cover letter as well, but you'll want to do some practice interviews ahead of time so that you'll be able to remind your interviewer of this information in a way that doesn't seem stilted.
If you include numbers on your resume, you can share some of those statistics during job interviews. If you didn't list quantifiable achievements on your resume, jot down some of your top accomplishments to mention during job interviews.
Research the company and its products or services ahead of time so that you can speak knowledgeably about the organization. Don't restrict yourself to the company's website or PR materials; dig into recent news items about the employer so that you'll have an idea of the issues facing the company in the market right now.
Finally, go over your elevator speech, the quick, 60-second-or-less overview of who you are and what you have to offer an employer. Remember, the goal of a sales job interview is to sell yourself. For this meeting, you're the product. Make the sale.
What Not to Say
- Don't focus exclusively on money. Yes, most likely money is a major motivating factor that helps you complete the sale. But you'll want to bring a bit more to the table than a focus on compensation and bonuses.
- Don't be vague. Interviewers are sincerely looking to find out what makes you tick. To that end, you'll want to share a bit about yourself. Go beyond a one-sentence response if possible.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- What makes you good at sales? - Best Answers
- Sell me this pen. - Best Answers
- How did you land your most successful sale? - Best Answers
- What interests you most about this sales position? - Best Answers
SHOW WHAT MAKES YOU TICK. Give an honest, authentic response that helps interviewers understand your personality and character.
DON'T FOCUS ON MONEY EXCLUSIVELY. Money is one motivating factor, but it shouldn't be the main focus of your response.
KEEP IT POSITIVE. You'll want to keep your answer upbeat and enthusiastic.