How to Ace a Sales Interview

Women in an interview in office conference room
••• Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

During an interview for a sales job, your abilities will be on display. Hiring managers and interviewers will be looking to see how confident you are in selling yourself, as well as evidence that you possess strong sales skills. They will also want to get a sense of your familiarity with the company's products or services.

Get tips for how to ace a sales interview. 

How to Prepare for a Sales Interview

Before you start the interview process, carefully prepare. Each company you meet with will be unique, so plan on allocating prep time for every interview you go on.

Research the Company

Take the time to carefully research the company and its products and/or services, so that you'll be able to make an informed presentation on how you intend to grow their market share.

Be Sure You're in Alignment With the Company

Candidates for sales positions need to be absolutely sure that they are comfortable selling the product or service the company is marketing. Because if you wouldn't buy it, you're going to have difficulty selling it.

Prepare a Sales Pitch

During a sales interview, it's typical for interviewers to ask candidates to "Sell me this pen." Some interviewers may get more specific and ask candidates to demonstrate how they would sell the company's products and services. Be prepared to respond.

If you aren't familiar with the company and what it sells, it'll show. 

It's also essential that you use the job interview to convincingly sell your most valuable product, yourself, to an employer who is well-versed in sales strategies.

Share Your Skills

Be prepared to talk about the specific sales skills that you bring to the table, and make sure to highlight those skills that were listed as "preferred qualifications" on the company's job announcement.

These skills might include competencies such as account management, territory management, product pitching, marketing, cold-calling, public relations, and/or client acquisition.

Review Sales Interview Questions

Finally, before polishing your shoes and heading out to the interview, take the time to review some of the most common sales interview questions and answers, as well as sales interview questions about products and services, so that you will have a response to anything the hiring manager might ask you.

Be prepared to speak enthusiastically and persuasively about your favorite sales experiences and techniques, what motivates you to excel, and how you have met aggressive sales goals and quotas.

Sales Job Interview Tips

Want even more tips on how to ace your sales interview? Review this advice from Kenneth Sundheim, president of the sales and marketing search firm KAS Placement. 

Would You Buy It?

Before interviewing for a sales job, always ask yourself if you would buy the product or service. In sales, just as in life, you can't sell something that you don't believe in. Also, never take a sales job if you don't have confidence in the marketing department (if applicable) or the current marketing structure and tools. A poorly written, poorly programmed website makes for a hard sell, especially if your competitors have new ones.

Be Prepared for Rejection

Understand that in sales, just like in job searching, there is going to be rejection. This point is especially aimed at the younger employment seeker who is thinking about a career in sales. If you want to do sales, do it. Once you get past your first rejections and botched cold-calls, it becomes second nature.

Don't let shyness or fear of rejection stop you from entering the field. It's an amazing way to begin your career.

Focus on Consultative Sales Skills

Remember that sales employers always want somebody who has what is most commonly referred to as a "consultative selling" approach. More or less, the term refers to a sales style that aims to uncover the client's needs as opposed to the infamous sales style portrayed in the film Glengarry Glen Ross, which was most famously known for the mentality that regardless of what the client wants or is best for them, close the deal.

To express this unethical sales methodology in both an entertaining and theatrical manner, playwright David Mamet scripted the infamous "A.B.C." or "always be closing" line.

Tips for Negotiating Salary

Salary negotiation is the #1 most challenging aspect of the job search for many applicants in the sales and marketing arena. If you are not trained in negotiation, use what we refer to as the "work with" collaborative method.

It means having the mentality that the employer is your partner, not your adversary, and together your job is to work towards a solution that will have you employed by the firm.

If you think of negotiation in terms of winners and losers, you're going to end up the latter.

During an interview for a sales job, your abilities will be on direct display. Hiring managers and interviewers will be looking to see how confident you are in selling yourself, for evidence that you possess sales skills, and to get a sense of your familiarity with the company's products or services.

Article Sources

  1. Indeed. "Consultative Selling: Definition, Techniques and Examples." Accessed Jan. 16, 2020.

  2. Vocal. "Origin of Always Be Closing." Accessed Jan. 16, 2020.

  3. Harvard University. Program on Negotiation. "How to Negotiate Salary: 3 Winning Strategies." Accessed Jan. 16, 2020.