If you’re looking applying for job in outside sales, there’s a lot of preparation to do before you step into your interview. Sales job interviews are among the hardest and you need a certain skill set to excel in outside sales. When you’re interviewing for a position in outside sales, you’re trying to sell yourself as an employee to the hiring manager - who was most likely also a salesperson. With this in mind, it’s crucial that you do research and understand what interview questions are really trying to ask.
There are a few things you want to do before preparing your interview answers.
Research the Company
Research the company’s product lines, mission statement, and about us. Understand their company culture. You want to incorporate examples from the company you’re applying to into your answers. This not only shows that you are prepared but you really care about the position and are a good fit.
Gather your Sales Stats
Your sales stats are proof of your accomplishments. How much did you increase annual sales? How often did you surpass your quota? Did you win any accolades or take on leadership/mentorship roles? Using real numbers and having specific examples is extremely powerful.
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to prepare for the interview questions. Here are nine questions and answers that you should know:
1. “How do you keep up with the latest industry trends in outside sales?”
This question is asking for your sales industry knowledge. Your answer will tell them if you work and learn outside of the general business hours. A quick search online will give you general sales statistics, but you want to do your research and find sales statistics that match the company you’re applying to.
You can look up some articles online or find an online publication that specializes in outside sales within the field you’re applying to. There are podcasts, online articles, and books that will keep you up to date. Show them your knowledge by quoting from one or more of these sources.
2. “With your last job, how much time did you spend between acquiring new business and account management?”
In sales, and especially outside sales, maintaining and cultivating your relationships is an important tenant to your position. Some companies will be happy with just account management but most will want to know if you’ve brought in new clients and how much time you spent trying to nurturing these new relationships. You should be honest, and if you have done both, explain what percentage of your time was spent bringing in new business compared to account management. Companies are looking for people with both skills.
3. “Sell me this watch.”
This isn’t technically a question, but your answer will show you future employer how you qualify prospects and begin the sales process. This shows them your sales style and how you organize your thoughts.
Here are some tips to remember when answering this question:
- Be positive and excited about selling the watch.
- Ask qualifying questions: Explain to the interviewer that you want to show them some of the features of the watch but would like them to tell you information about themselves first. For example, how they will be using the watch and what their goals are with the watch. This way you can get information about the customer that you can use in your sales pitch.
- Pitch with all you have and be sure to close strongly. You want your interviewer to be confident that you can sell anything.
4. “What is your biggest sales achievement?”
This is the time to shine and highlight what you have accomplished throughout your career.
You should tell them about your greatest achievement and, more importantly, the steps you took to achieving it. Show them how you work and what you can accomplish. Think about questions like this in your job interview preparation. You can find friends and family to practice your answers with before your interview.
5. What are three important qualifying questions you ask every prospect?”
This is a question without a right answer. Your interviewer is trying to see how your qualify prospects. They want to know about your instincts as an outside sales person and how you have been trained. If you researched their company, you can ask industry specific questions and blow your interviewer out of the water. Show them how you figure out if someone is a good fit for what you are selling.
6. “What is most rewarding to you about being in outside sales?”
This question also doesn’t have a correct answer but really think about why you’re going into or went into sales beyond the financial gain. This is your chance to show the hiring manager who you are beyond the sales person. As a sales person, you’re naturally outgoing, love talking with people and building relationships. You’re also looking for ways to bring your solution to fix a customer’s pain or problem. These are all rewarding and positive aspects of sales. Sit down and think about what gets you excited about sales.
7. “Tell me about your toughest sale.”
Here your interviewer wants to know how you handle obstacles and objections. They want to know what motivates you to go all the way and make the sale. Go over step-by-step on how you overcame a hard sale. Explain how you used your time strategically and within budget. They want to hear about a sale that made the company money and how you strategically maneuver through difficult clients.
8. “Are you comfortable making cold calls?”
This should be a no brainer but you need to know what you’re getting into with outside sales. You’ll be working alone and meeting customers without the backup of a sales team. You need to be able to tell your interviewer that you’re not only comfortable making cold calls, but you enjoy the challenge. It’s a cornerstone in finding new potential clients.
9. “What core values should you possess as an outside sales person?”
The interviewer is looking to see what kind of person you are. When they hire you, they’re making you a permanent part of their team. They have to be able to imagine themselves working with you. They want your answers to include patience, understanding, and humility. If you include these phrases in your answer you will nail this question and the interview.
Whether you’re a veteran or new to outside sales, we hope these tips help and we wish you the best of luck in your next interview.
Author Bio: Jane Hurst is a writer, editor and avid traveler from San Francisco. Contact her at About.me.