Sales is a challenging job. After all, your goal is to sell someone something they don’t want or don't yet know that they need! Your job in a sales interview is to sell yourself as the best person for the position, and this is an ideal chance to showcase your ability to sell with questions about products and services.
The interviewer will be closely observing your communication skills to determine if you’re the kind of salesperson who can close a deal. Your answers to questions should be clear and persuasive. Avoid rambling at all costs. And, although preparation is key to acing an interview — just as it's important when you're doing a demo or pitching a product — you don't want to sound stiff or overly rehearsed.
Do use questions about products and services as an opportunity to demonstrate the research you’ve done on the company and discuss why you want to sell their specific products or services. Convey your understanding of the company's product and sales strategies and how it relates to your past experience, using examples and anecdotes where possible.
Here are some typical interview questions about products and services that you might need to answer during a sales interview.
"What's More Important, a Quality Product or Excellent Customer Service?"
As you consider your response, keep in mind that you do not have to choose quality or service, despite the question's structure. Use your response to discuss the merits of each. It's ideal if you can relate this question back to your own experience. You could mention, for instance, a particularly high quality product you sold, and how it helped you do your job well.
- I believe that the two go hand in hand. You are not helping your customers by selling an inferior product. I make sure that the products that I represent are all of a high quality and good value, which gives me the confidence that I am providing my customers with the best possible customer service.
- The quality product comes first. When you are able to provide a consistently high quality product, you are providing the customer with the most important aspect of customer service, a superior product experience.
- Customer service is the most important aspect of sales. Without friendly, knowledgeable service, no product can sell itself.
- I'm more focused on selling solutions in whatever form that takes, rather than products or services.
"Have You Consistently Met Your Sales Goals?"
Naturally, the interviewer will want to know about your sales history and the ideal candidate will have proven experience meeting and exceeding sales goals.
Come ready to talk about your sales success and how you've met and exceeded goals. Cite numbers as evidence when possible. Review this sample answer, and also take a look at these additional tips for responding to interview questions around sales goals.
- I have never failed to meet or exceed sales goals in my eight-year career. Last year my team exceeded goals by 20 percent and consistently increased sales month over month. We made this happen during a time when the industry was contracting and other teams fell short of their goal.
"Sell Me This Paperclip"
Demonstrating your sales skills on the spot is an age-old interview question to get you to think on your feet. To best attack this question, don't try to launch into a pitch about the paperclip; find out what the buyer/interviewer is looking for and then sell the paperclip's benefits that match his needs. If he needs something durable, note that the paperclip is guaranteed to last two years. If he needs something multi-functional, indicate the paperclip can hold papers, money, and keep a loose button attached.
- I appreciate your comment that you don't know that you need a paperclip, since you have a stapler available. Staplers are great — I use one myself. But I find that the paperclip can be really handy for papers before they're filed away completely. For instance, you mentioned you often wind up with bundles that have multiple staples, since you have to staple every time you add to the pile of papers. With a paperclip, you can easily add to the collection of papers.