Sales People On Interview

Sales People On Interview

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

So, you’re a sales person and you’re looking for a new job. You are successful; regularly making target and delivering quota by bringing new, quality clients to your firm. You know how to prospect; generate and gather leads; identify and open a conversation with a decision-maker; you understand value-based sales and how to generate need and demand and how to take your prospect on a journey resulting in a deal; you know how to close and you know how to on-board and nurture your new clients.

That’s all great. Do you know how to sell yourself? Can you quickly and clearly articulate your achievements and potential to a prospective employer? Have you ever been interviewed for a job that seemed to have your name on it only to be turned down? Why did that happen? What was the difference between your interview performance and the person who got the job offer?


You might think that a sales person ought to be able to sell themselves effectively. My experience of recruiting everything from an Inside Telesales person to a Global Sales Director has shown this is not always the case.

Sales people sometimes are unable to articulate their own skills, achievements, worth and value to a prospective employer. This is usually a function of not thinking through their own value-proposition and being able to communicate it.

Sales bullseye

Here are some thoughts which may help you better prepare for interview and demonstrate why you’re the right person for the job.

It always helps to get insight and opinion from more than one recruiter – we all have our own experiences and insights to offer. There isn’t a cookie-cutter approach, but I ask my candidates to think about the following –

Treat an interview as a sales meeting or pitch. You’re the product (or service, if you prefer). Prepare for the meeting as you would for a client pitch!

Begin with objective facts –

  • Targets – what are they and have you met them? What revenue did you generate? What is the gross profit margin on your sales? What did you get paid for delivering those numbers? If you have missed target; why? Avoid blame, stick to the facts.
  • New clients – who have you won business from? What was the journey? How did you close? What is the overall deal value of each client win? Where is that relationship now?
  • Can you provide two reference clients if needs be? How will you go about asking a client to provide you with a reference?
  • Are you able to describe succinctly how you prospect; generate leads; act on those leads and be able to describe your sales cycle and the buying cycle in your marketplace?
  • How do you manage your sales pipeline? At any one time, what can your manager expect to see in your pipeline?
  • Think about the deal you are most proud of to-date. Build a short, high-impact story around this.
  • What about “the one who got away”. What happened? What did you learn from this and how does it guide your work today?
  • Collaboration and alliances – can you give examples that generated sales and profit? Who do you collaborate with? What alliances or channels do you have and how were they established?
  • Customer care and account management – give examples of your investment of time in making your new clients feel loved. Do you have to hand over new clients to an account manager or team? Is this the end of your involvement or do you keep a watching brief (even an informal one)?
  • The foundations of your sales career – did you learn on the job.

Have you had any formal sales training? You have? Lucky you! If so, what was it and who delivered the training? How does this influence what you do today i.e. what have you learned and how do you put it in to action? Can you give examples?

I’m sure you get the general idea. It’s about chunking down into clear and digestible parts who you are, what you do and what you have done. Being able to put this information into an elevator pitch (and being able to discuss in more detail those things the interviewer wants to discuss) is vital. If you can’t articulate your own value, how will you sell your prospective employer’s products or services?

When interviewing for the best sales roles, candidates who try to wing it or busk it usually get caught out or do not compare well to candidates who have prepared – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Technology sales

I work for North Star Enterprise Resourcing. North Star is a friendly, professional and relationship driven boutique recruitment firm covering mid-senior career level hires for Enterprise Solutions & Software, Oracle & Microsoft Partner and Technology related firms.

If you think we can help you with your job search, or to find that next key hire for your team, you can reach Kenny McAllister on 07743 978179 or 0131 557 0282, email: or Kenny on LinkedIn 

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