Sales jobs often stink. Maybe the service delivered isn’t exactly what you described, or your sales quota is sky high. That’s probably why it takes an average of 41 days to fill technical sales positions yet only 33 days to fill similar jobs in other fields.
But some people were born to sell. If you’re that person — the right combination of confident and tenacious — you may be thinking, “What is this guy talking about? I literally just applied for four sales positions.”
That’s great. The key, though, is to make sure you’re applying to a company that’s the right sales fit for your personality and skill set. Trust me: You want your job to be the right fit. Employees in stressful work situations report more serious health issues than those at positive companies.
A wide range of factors determine whether a job is going to be a good match for you. Don’t just look at the salary and benefits — consider the company culture, whether you can see yourself there long-term, and whether the company’s mission aligns with your own values.
Are your potential co-workers more introverted or extroverted (and it can go either way with salespeople)? Are they collaborative and honest? Will they give you the feedback you need?
If you find a job that meets all of your requirements, you’ll want to ace the interview to show that you’re the right fit. Here are four ways to help your interviewer see that you and the company are a perfect match:
1. Treat the interview like a sales call.
Any sales book or training system will tell you that the best sales calls are when the prospect talks more than the salesperson. So why should an interview be any different? Out of hundreds of interviews I have conducted, just one candidate for a sales position started her interview by asking me a question. I hired her almost immediately.
When interviewing for a sales role, you need to be able to sell your interviewer on your ability to do the job. Prepare for the interview as well as you would a sales call. Know your stuff. Be prepared to answer questions about competition, pricing, etc.
2. Showcase your experience as the right experience.
My company (and there are plenty like it) never hires Millennials with no sales experience. There’s a real benefit to hiring someone who has sold another product and now wants to sell mine.
Even if you don’t have traditional sales experience, make sure you can package some of your other experience as relevant to sales. In addition, I love when candidates have read (or at least heard of) the same sales books that I have. Some of my favorites that are good reads for both experienced and inexperienced salespeople are “The Challenger Sale” and “Pitch Anything.”
3. Be ready with great sales success stories, not just goals met.
Employees measure success differently, but those metrics reveal a lot. Résumés that mention 360 consecutive quotas met don’t impress me. Who set the quota? What was the product? What were your incentives?
I want to hear a good sales success story. So when the time is right, tell a story that shows that you get it. It’s very telling to hear what people consider successful. Do they understand that success isn’t necessarily just a sale, but rather a loyal customer? Hearing how they determine and achieve success not only shares a good sales story, but it also reveals what is important to the candidate.
Prepare an anecdote that reveals a deeper level of understanding: Lots of sales this month are good in the short-term, but a good relationship is forever. Those kinds of people understand how to succeed, regardless of whether they’ve done it yet.
4. Show that you can find leads yourself.
It’s one thing to close deals that were referred to you or were generated from SEO or web leads. It’s quite another to close deals that you prospected from scratch: deals you took all the way from stranger to customer.
When I am interviewing a sales candidate, I want to hear that you can execute on this — that you are not an account manager (nothing against account managers, of course). If you’re going to be a salesperson, you need to show that you can run a process that takes a prospect from total stranger to customer. This way, even if your leads will be generated from referrals or search, you’ve shown that you can close.
Sales is not for everyone. But people with the right talents and experience can thrive in the field. If you think it’s the right job for you, use these tips to nail your next interview.