5 Tips for Interviewing for Your First Sales Job

As a sales manager, I’ve interviewed candidates from many different kinds of backgrounds.  One of the things I always enjoy is hiring a coachable team member that doesn’t have a background in sales.  The right mindset on a rookie can make them a fresh block of clay that you can mold into one of your top performers.  I’ve also seen many individuals looking to get into sales stumble in their first few sales interviews.  For those future sales stars looking to break into the world of sales, here are 5 tips for passing your first sales interview with flying colors.

Come Prepared

Your first interview is in many ways a sales call. You are trying to sell the company on why they should hire you over someone else.  They are also trying to sell you on why their company is the best option right now.  By doing research on the company and the position you seek, it shows the interviewer that you are willing to dig deep and prepare yourself.  If you can’t spend the time researching for the interview, it may show that you won’t commit to learn product knowledge or sales techniques if you are brought on board

Illustrate Coachability

An interviewer is almost always going to study your resume before stepping into an interview with you. If they see the resume has little or no sales experience on it, one of the main attributes they will be looking for is coachability.  Be ready to talk about a time in your life where a leader or coach challenged you to change a technique and process.  Go deep into what your process was from receiving feedback to implementing changes and what effect it had.

Paint A Picture of What A Great Sales Experience Means to You

Just because you haven’t worked in sales, doesn’t mean you have no point of reference of sales. Everyone has been sold something by someone in their life.  Think of an experience where you bought something you weren’t planning on because of something a salesperson said or did.  Be ready to talk about what qualities and traits the salesperson had that helped him in his sales process and also what things he did to push you toward your purchase.  One of my favorite examples was an interview where the candidate bought a MacBook because the salesmen let him know that he never sees prices this low and doesn’t know when he will again.  The candidate pointed out how it was fear of loss put in his head by the salesperson that drove the sale.

Be Passionate When Answering the Question

One of the best hires I ever made was a candidate that had zero sales background. He was actually a craps dealer at the casino down the street.  In the interview, I asked him to teach me how to play craps and to pretend I knew nothing about the game.  He was so passionate in his telling of the rules of craps and why it was the most fun game in the casino that it made me want to go play right away.  In his instructional session on craps he used many sales techniques such as getting buy-ins and using tie downs that by the end of the interview, I knew I wanted him on my team.

Ask Questions

If you are new to sales, there should be a myriad of questions you have prepared to ask the employer in the interview. A great first step is to write out a list the night before, but you should also add to it as the interview goes on.  It can be a real red flag if someone with limited sales background has no questions at the end of an interview.  It shows that a candidate is engaged and wants to know if the fit in that specific sales environment if they come with a list of questions.

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