Sales occupations vary widely in duties and pay. Despite booming eCommerce, the field is still growing at 5% per year. Learn how you can ask the right questions to make sure you get the best in this growing job market.
The Impact of Sales
1 in 8 jobs in the US are sales positions.
There are plenty of ways for sales reps to set themselves apart in the field, however. Only 11% of sales people ask for referrals, but up to 91% of customers would give them.
There’s a similar story for follow ups and sales – customers are more likely to buy after follow up calls, emails, etc. But 44% of sales people give up after one failed follow up. Caliper Corp stats suggest that 55% of people in the field don’t have what it takes to succeed. A lot of it is about having a solid work ethic.
You need a tenacious, intelligent, and empathetic salesperson on your team. The right job interview question can make a world of difference in how much profit you’ll be taking home each quarter.
Are you a hiring manager? If you want more ideas for your next job interview, check out our guide to 25 common interview questions and our phone interview tips. Interview preparation is key to getting a great hire, but we know it's hard to find the time. Let our guides make the interview preparation work easy.
The questions below should be helpful for many types of sales interviews, from a vice president of sales, or a cold call salesperson, to a retail sales rep and could even help prepare you for a sales analyst interview.
Question # 1: How do you stay updated on your target market?
Sales is about knowing your customer, speaking their language, and identifying their pain points.
A good salesperson will be able to describe a specific process they use to stay updated on their target market, and some may identify as part of it. All should be able to name specific websites, magazines, and other publications they use to ‘listen’ to their target demographic.
Question #2: How do you approach short vs. long sales cycles?
The strategies needed to make sales and keep customer happy vary based on the length of the sales cycle. Candidates should express a nuanced approach that illustrates a well-researched system for engaging customers in the buyer’s journey and closing the sale within an appropriate period of time, and at maximum benefit for the company.
Question #3: What is your long-term career goal?
A good sales representative will be able to voice more than quarterly or yearly sales goals – they’ll have a plan and the passion and drive to accomplish it.
They’ll also be interested in opportunities for advancement and have a solid understanding of your company’s structure, and a clear path they hope to follow in order to grow in-house, unless you are looking for a seasonal hire. If that’s the case, make sure that both you and the applicant are aware that the position is temporary.
Question #4: Why do you like the idea of working in sales?
A major red flag on this job interview question is a candidate who is only in it for the money. Don’t be surprised to hear "for the commissions" or "because the money is good."
These might be honest answers, but they also show a potential problem. The candidate only cares about the cash. You want a sales rep who is motivated by the process of selling and interested in filling a need for the customer, not just in making bank.
Question #5: How do you handle customer objections?
Customer objections are really requests for more information about a product or service and how it can benefit them. Good salespeople know this and use objections to create a better sale. When a hiring manager asks this question, you are giving the applicant an opportunity to tell you about the techniques they use and how they keep the customer’s interest, empathize with them, and make sales without badgering the customer or giving up too soon.
Question #6: What role do content and social media play in your sales process?
Electronic and mobile commerce are expanding rapidly.
A salesperson who shies away from either is losing before they begin. A good salesperson will be able to illustrate a sales process that includes online and offline tactics for creating and growing customer relationships, educating the prospect, and closing the sale.
At the same time, they should express knowledge of and respect for any of your company’s policies regarding social media and content use.
Question #7: Have you ever turned a potential customer away? Why?
There are several reasons why an excellent sales rep might walk away from a sale. They include (but aren’t limited to) ethical and legal conflicts, when a prospect demands more than the company can reasonably deliver, when a sale would be unprofitable due to the time, resources, or energy necessary, and when the deal is one-sided to the detriment of the company.
Additional Job Interview Questions to Ask:
- What types of products and services have you sold? What techniques did you use to sell them?
- Describe a sales experience that exemplifies your work ethic.
- How do you generate leads?
- Have you ever had to cold call customers? What is your cold call strategy?
Sales is the lifeblood of any product or service-based business. The right salespeople with a strong work ethic can drive profits, even in a slumping economy. Now that you know what to ask, find and hire employees with a well-placed ad across numerous channels – with a free job ad from Betterteam.