We’re big believers in preparation at Sales Talent. This is especially the case with interviewing. Done right, it makes it easy for the person on the other side to pick you. As with most things in life, there are a few critical preparation points that make the most difference. Based on the feedback we’ve received from thousands of interviews with our clients, we complied our list of 5 sales interview basics.
As social selling has increased in importance, employers are paying more attention to a potential sales rep’s “social presence”. Without question, Linkedin is the most important social platform for B2B sales. The most important element on your Linkedin profile is your picture. It’s a potential employer’s first impression of you and that impression is made in hundreds of a second. Christine Georghiou created a quick Do and Don’t guide to Linkedin Profile Pictures that’s based on research. If you don’t want to think too hard about it go for likeable, approachable and competent. These are the major ingredients in creating a fantastic first impression.
Once your profile picture is perfect invest a bit more time and build out the rest of your Linkedin profile. It shows potential employers that you care about your professional image and “get” social selling. You can find what goes into a well written Linkedin Profile in How to Use Linkedin to Hire, Get Hired or Sell More.
It goes without saying that it’s a sales interview basic to do your homework. At a minimum you should be ready to share:
- Why you have a passion for the position and the company. Hint – “make more money” is a poor answer.
- The unique skills and talents you possess that will move the needle should they hire you.
- How you fit into their culture and the hiring manager’s team. Sometimes this requires a little extra research. For example, Recommendations given on Linkedin often give clues or even speak directly to the hiring manager’s strengths and style. Absent any clues online, be prepared to ask about the company’s culture and the hiring manager’s approach. Should any of the answers resonate, share how it’s a match for you.
Bonus points – more and more hiring managers will ask what you did to prepare for the interview. If you don’t feel confident that your answer is going to impress them, you need to do more.
I blogged in more depth on the topic in How to Prepare for a Sales Interview.
Open ended interview questions are a recipe for drawn out 5 minute answers. If you’ve ever committed this sin we have a tool for tool for you. It’s called the “check-in”. Give a succinct answer and then check-in to see if the interviewer would like more detail. Occasionally you may feel that you have an important tangent to share. Stop, check-in and ask the interviewer if they want to hear about it. Not only does this approach keep you on track; it keeps the interviewer engaged.
Document Your #s.
Most (yes, most) sales professionals exaggerate their accomplishments when interviewing. Most sales leaders know this. Overcome their skepticism and separate yourself by bringing proof of your sales accomplishments to the interview. Bonus points to you if did your homework and know what the hardest parts of the job are. More bonus points if you can bring proof of your talent in this arena. You can read How to Use a Brag Book for more information on how to document your #s.
Follow Up Email or Note.
Not sending a follow up email after an interview is one of the more preventable reasons we see solid sales professionals blow their chances. Sales Managers are left wondering if a. you want the position and b. you also fail to follow up with your prospects. Those are not good last impressions. For a deeper why and how read Why You Must Send Follow Up Emails.
Sales Interview Basics Final Thought.
The last sales interview basic to prepare for is getting in the right mindset. Don’t worry about negotiating the best offer or whether opportunity A is better than opportunity B during the interview. You’ll have plenty of time to attend to those issues later. Go into each interview with the mindset of becoming or remaining the company’s top candidate. Engage, connect, impress and then close.
“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”
Best of luck with every interview that you go on and we hope that our 5 sales interview basics help you stand out.