How to Use Soft Sales Techniques in a Job Interview
Interviews are stressful. You know full well that most everything you say or do is being judged very closely. Make a mistake in one of your responses and your chances of getting the job are diminished. However, stressful an interview can be, if you can end the interview by closing for the position, you will earn tremendous respect and demonstrate with a real-life example of your closing skills.
In addition to prospecting, building rapport and delivering presentations, sales professionals must be able to close deals. Without the ability to or resistance to closing sales, all the other skills are useless.
Sales professionals main job is to convert prospects into customers. This process is done via the close of the sale. If interviewing for a sales job, you have a golden opportunity to show the decision-makers that you are willing and confident enough to close on the job. Though your closing skills may be weak and in need of some training, your attempt to close will speak volumes and earn respect.
When to Close
Sales professionals live by a simple formula that is summarized by the letters "ABC." These stand for "Always Be Closing." While this attitude of always closing can lead to being over-aggressive, remaining aware of closing opportunities is very important in sales. Same is true during an interview.
While some interviewing experts suggest that you wait until the very end of the interview to close for the position, the better advice is to use "trial" or "mini-closes" throughout the interview.
These "mini-closes" can be as simple as stating, "I'm sure that education and experience are important considerations for you during your decision process." A statement like this will elicit a response that will give you insight into how the interviewers feel about your education and experience. Based on their reply, you could use a trial close, like "It seems that my experience is a good match for the position. What other factors are important to you?" It not only helps you control the pace and direction of the interview but lets others know that you understand how to close a deal!
How Hard Should Try?
Hard closing techniques are dangerous if misused. They sometimes convey desperation, over-confidence, and create a very stressful environment. Closing for a job takes a more delicate touch but needs to be firm and filled with certainty. Your close needs to convey one message:
You Want the Job
If you feel that the position is above your current skill set, your closing attempt will reveal your hesitancy. Often, people who try to close hard are people not certain that they can deliver the results expected of the position.
Instead of closing hard for the job, employ a more assumptive closing style. If you used mini-closes during the interview, you would have developed a good rapport with the interviewers, and both you and they will have either come to an agreement on your ability to fulfill the role's demands or will have identified some areas of potential concern. Either way, using mini-closes builds momentum and a basis for a final close.
While the words you use need to be your own, an assumptive interview close could go something like, "based on everything we talked about, it seems that I certainly meet the requirements that you have for this position. I think it's obvious that I am interested in moving forward with you and would like to ask what you feel the next steps for me should be?"
This soft, assumptive-style close assumes that everyone is in agreement with your qualifications and asks for a next step. It assumes that you all agree that there should be the next step and, lastly, assumes that you should be asked to take the next step.
If there is no interest in having you as an employee, you will find out as soon as you ask the final closing question. While this may be frustrating, it will allow you to focus on finding the right position for you. However, if you are considered a viable candidate, your willingness to close will probably put you on the top of the candidate list.