Sales recruitment is all about choosing the right personality as well as ability, as a result the ability for verbal communication within an interview is generally more important than the experience. Sales roles are highly competitive and past sales experience isn’t always enough to convince someone to hire you. As such, preparation for your sales interview is important for increasing your potential of being selected by the interviewer. This applies to interviews with hiring managers, HR or sales recruitment agencies themselves.
Your interview is the first opportunity for a recruiter to evaluate you face to face, and it is often during this meeting that a decision is made as to whether you are the right candidate for the role. As a result, you need to engage your interviewer and take the opportunity to sell yourself as effectively as possible in a short period of time. An important factor in doing this is asking intelligent questions that show the recruiter you have thought about the interview, and really care about the detail in the potential position.
You should focus the questions you ask to gather information for yourself whilst simultaneously demonstrating your self-worth to the interviewer. You will be compared to the other candidates that also applied for the role, so it is important to ensure you are the one to be given the opportunity.
Here we will share our advice on the types of questions you should be asking to get that sales job. We recommend focusing your questions specifically to the job you’re interviewing for. However, as we cannot do that, we have provided our top 6 general questions we feel are important to think about using in some shape or form in your sales interview.
- What training do you provide for your sales staff?
Enquiring about the training that you will receive shows a willingness to learn new skills and develop yourself into a better sales person. You want the interviewer to recruit you, so let the them know that you are keen to learn, that you have an eye on the future and want to move forward in your career. Demonstrating a desire to progress within sales shows commitment to the role, the company, and to your own personal development.
- What is the commission structure of the company?
Whilst companies that are worth working for should not put the whole focus of development on commission, but of a mixture of sales performance, attitude, and work ethic; it is still important to understand that commission will always be an element in how a company manages your performance.
Employees that put no emphasis on understanding their targets and what is expected of them are potentially only interested in the basic salary, and not what profit they can provide to a company. Therefore, it is important to show an interest in understanding how potential commission structures work; both to establish if you feel it is achievable, and to demonstrate an interest in what would be expected of you in the future. Also, if companies are not willing to discuss this part of the position, it may suggest they have something to hide.
- What type of person is usually successful in your sales team, do you find successful candidates often come from similar styles and backgrounds?
We appreciate that sales people come from all different backgrounds, and success in sales is often as much about attitude as it is approach. An experienced, more traditional salesperson can be equally as successful as a less-experienced, outgoing and digitally savvy salesperson; provided they share the same drive, attitude, adaptability and the ability to learn what is required to do the role. However, that does not necessarily mean that every sales position is right for your preferred style of selling, and most sales people do have a preferred style.
As a result, it is important to ask an employer what type of sales people have the most success. By this we mean the style of sales, personality, and sometimes background. This may give you a clue to what it takes to be successful at this company, and whether this is in line with your preferred methods. Or they may just say there is success in all shapes and forms, which is also good to know.
- What is the work culture of your sales team?
This is an important question to ask because it will give you an idea as to whether you feel you could fit into the culture of the company. It may also help you to imagine how much you will enjoy the job role on a day to day basis. You could ask the interviewer about their own personal experiences within the business; this can give you helpful insight as to whether you believe you can get the satisfaction you are looking for out of this role, on a personal as well as professional level.
- How often do you expect sales representatives to meet clients?
Meeting clients is a large aspect of some sales positions, and how you present yourself is very important. If you’re not a confident speaker or struggle interacting with a variety of different people, you may come into difficulties when trying to sell to a client. Whereas, if you are a confident communicator and aren’t going to shy away when you get asked questions or must present to others, then this could be something you enjoy.
Not all sales roles involve face to face interaction with customers. Sales made over the phone or online are often equally as valuable to businesses as field sales, if not more. If you feel more in your comfort zone making sales without having to meet clients, there are still plenty of sales roles available to you.
If you are somebody that fits into one of the extremes of either loving or hating field or phone sales, then it’s important to know where your work will be expected to take place, so you can establish if you will enjoy the role. If you are indifferent, this may not matter.
- What would I have to demonstrate to pass my probation period?
New employees are often required to pass a probation period of about 6 months. Enquiring about what the expectations of a new employee are allows you to focus on these vital areas when you start your new role. It also demonstrates that you are thinking ahead and enthusiastic to prove yourself. It is important to listen to all the information and help you are given during this period, as it will provide you with the skills you need to become a successful employee going forward.
Dependent on your job role, during the initial period of joining a company you may not be making sales immediately. Therefore, you need to establish what other tasks you need to be in control of to impress those giving you the opportunity. Though this is not always the case, and you may be joining a company where you are expected to hit the ground running and get up to speed with your job role as quickly as possible. As a result, it is important for you to ask and establish what performance is expected of you during this initial period of work. No matter what you are tasked with when joining a new company, it is always important to establish what you need to do to secure the permanent role. Additionally, they may detail unrealistic expectations in the initial 6 months which could raise red flags for you throughout the interview process.
Zero Surplus offers professional commercial sales and business development recruitment for all levels, whether you’re looking for a Graduate Field Sales role, Head of Sales or National Account Manager, we can help you find the right talent.
We predominantly recruit within Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Essex, Suffolk, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, with leading cities such as Milton Keynes and Cambridge being key hotbeds. We pride ourselves on our high success rate of delivering top quality candidates their dream positions and careers.
By Tom Scott-Burke