There are many positions available on the job market that fall into the category of sales. Whether your interest lies in agriculture, healthcare, publishing, retail, or just about any other industry you can think of, you will find a variety of positions in sales. And, in every industry, sales jobs will have some core similarities.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
The questions you will be asked during an interview for a job in sales, like “What makes you a good salesperson?” will be used to evaluate your skills and experience in that capacity. However, unlike interviews for other types of jobs, your interview will probably be structured in such a way that you’ll end up demonstrating your sales skills by “hard selling” the talents you would bring to the organization.
Your interviewers won’t just be interested in the answers you provide to their questions. They’ll be looking closely at “how” you answer these queries, seeking the enthusiasm, charisma, body language, and consultative needs assessment ability that define a great salesperson.
How to Prepare for the Question
When preparing for an interview for a sales position, you will need to think about what qualities you possess that make you an excellent salesperson. Doing this will help you to structure persuasive answers to many likely questions, including the standard, “What makes you a good salesperson?” You will feel more confident going into your interview when you are well-prepared for the types of questions you may be asked.
In addition to reviewing questions, make sure that you research the company as thoroughly as possible. Even smaller firms usually have a website that will give you some information that will be useful during your interview. By Googling the company, you may find press releases and other articles you can mention during the interview to show how interested you are in working for them.
Tie Your Skills to Your Experience
It’s helpful to make a list of the hard and soft skills you possess that have helped you to develop your sales style. These sales skills might include hard selling, soft selling, consultative sales, negotiation, product pitching, networking, client relationship management, account management, marketing, territory management, cold calling, lead generation, product demonstration, and/or closing.
Use your list to tie those skills to experiences that will highlight what makes you excel in sales. Interviewers like answers that include specific, verifiable information from previous employment or experience.
If you can, provide an anecdote about how you used a certain skill set to make a difficult sale to a particular client. A great way to create your anecdote – remembering that it will ideally act just like a sales pitch – is to use the STAR interview response technique.
With this technique, you describe a past sales Situation where your Task was to sell to a challenging client. You then describe the Action you took and conclude with the Result of this action. Here’s an example:
I was able to close the sale of 1000 units of our company’s large capacity freezers to Alaska Inc., a potential client who normally sourced their units from our leading competitor, by using my research skills to examine their present needs and help them to anticipate how our product would enhance their productivity in the future. Once they realized the extra value we added (at about the same cost they were paying to their current provider), they made us their sole supplier.
More Sample Answers
Here are some additional examples of how to answer the question, “What makes you good at sales?” Use them as models for your own response.
I'm an ambitious person, and that helps me in sales. I really like to make sure that my customers are thoroughly informed, and that I provide the best possible service. I feel like I've done a good job when I have made a sale that required using all my talents.
Why It Works: This is an effective response because it touches upon a few of the traits that make a star salesperson: ambition, client education, and a commitment to excellent customer service.
I am very detail-oriented, and that helps me in sales in many ways. I make sure that I know everything there is to know about the product I'm selling so that I can answer any questions a customer may have to their satisfaction. I also like to know my territory in and out, and I like to find out about my customers personally, so I can better serve them.
Why It Works: A strong knowledge of one’s product line is desirable in all sales fields; it is particularly essential, though, in sectors like pharmaceutical and agricultural sales. When qualifications like “territory management” and “product knowledge” are emphasized in a job ad, candidates should make a point of talking about their command of these skills during their interview.
I think that my patience helps me be a good salesperson. I find that I have made some of my best sales when I have taken the time to let the customer weigh their decision carefully, ask as many questions as they wished, and not put too much pressure on them.
Why It Works: This candidate demonstrates his understanding of good consultative (as opposed to “hard”) sales skills – a technique encouraged within several industries.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- 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
SELL YOURSELF: Demonstrate your sales acumen by “hard-selling” your experience and skills to the interviewer, using the same body language and techniques you would use if you were selling their product or service. Focus on the skills that they’ve listed as “desirable” or “preferred” in their job ad.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Learn everything you can about the employer’s sales program, products, and market placement so that you can persuasively convince them that you would be an outstanding addition to their team.
IMPRESS WITH STATISTICS: Toot your own horn by describing how you’ve achieved impressive sales in the past, quantifying these achievements with numbers, dollar figures, or percentages.