Every business, big or small, is designed to earn money.
But it costs money to pay employees.
So when businesses hire, they do everything they can to make sure that new staff produce more than they cost.
For sales reps, this math is very straightforward: At a bare minimum, the revenue you generate needs to be greater than your total compensation.
But the duties of a sales representative are much greater than that. Because while other job functions do produce value, no other job role brings in new money.
Hiring for sales is a high-risk, high-reward proposition. And it’s critical to the survival of the business.
This is why the vetting process for hiring sales representatives can be very tough and thorough. If you’ve successfully lined up a sales interview, to give yourself an edge, you need to come prepared.
Our list of common sales interview questions is a great place to start. But it’s only a starting point. If you want to succeed in sales, you need to be methodical about your sales process, and you need to optimize your job search and interview strategy for success.
Uvaro CEO Joseph Fung has hired hundreds of people in his career. Before you scroll down to the questions, do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to learn more about telling good stories in sales job interviews:
All Sales Interview Questions Test For Core Sales Skills:
Active Listening and Empathy
Every employer knows that they can make more sales by getting closer to and their clients and learning to understand them better. This is where you come in: Show that you’re a well-trained and emotionally intelligent sales rep.
Businesses need you to be someone who can relate to people, be empathetic, and win them to your side. The sales job interview is a test: Answer every question by proving you can do this part of the job.
Competitiveness and a Strong Drive to Sell
You don’t need to cut throats. But most businesses look for salespeople who are highly competitive and motivated to succeed. Financial motivation isn’t enough: Everyone works to earn money. Great sales reps want to win.
Confidence in Yourself
Confidence is key. You don’t need to have all the answers, but you do need to be calm and self-assured. Confident interviewees get hired, because recruiters and hiring managers assume you know more than you do. Confidence implies competence.
On top of that, sales is a game of rejection. Every sales rep loses more deals than they win. Highly confident people can power through the rejection. But especially for entry-level sales jobs, businesses worry that if you’re not a confident person, you won’t be able to hack it.
You’re working 20 warm leads, a list of 200 cold leads, 3 late-stage deals, and you have 5 new customers you haven’t finished handing off.
What’s the priority? How do you cope?
There’s no “right answer” to this question in a sales interview. But there are plenty of wrong answers. Show that you have a strategy to manage a heavy workload, and that you can handle whatever gets thrown at you.
Connections are the backbone of thriving businesses. Sales reps don’t need to come with a long rolodex (really! if it feels like a prospective employer is only interested in your network, it’s a job offer red flag), but your networking skills are valuable.
When you interview, show that you can build good relationships. Did you identify who will be on the call? Did you use their names? Did you connect with them in advance (if possible), or follow-up with them afterwards?
A “thank you” after an interview isn’t about being grateful or stroking egos: It’s about showing your ability to capitalize on every opportunity.
More still: With traditional ways of networking restricted due to COVID, your LinkedIn acumen and ability to leverage other sales tools is even more important. Find an opportunity to talk about in the interview.
Enthusiasm and Commitment
Every open job posting for a sales rep gets hundreds of applicants. Many of them applied without even reading the job description: Even though it’s a terrible job hunting strategy, resume spamming is prolific.
It’s also extremely disruptive to the hiring process.
So many sales interview questions are designed purely to figure out if you applied because you think you’d be a great fit for the job, or if you applied just because you could.
In other words: Do you actually care?
Many Sales Interview Questions Test for Job Fit And Strategic Alignment:
With the above skills in mind, here are some questions you’re likely to encounter in an interview and what they might mean for you as a candidate going through the interview process. Here are some common sales interview questions to get you started!
Explain XYZ to me?
As simple as this question might be, how the answer is given and the manner in which it is delivered says a lot about you and how communicative you are. How do you organize your thoughts? How do you tell a story? How do you speak about the people involved? Your answer here will tell the interviewer more that you think.
If given this job, what do you plan on doing in your first month of employment?
This is often asked to test how proactive a thinker you are. When asked this, you should be able to come up with one or two well laid out plans for yourself in that organization upon employment. A common way to share your thought process is with a quick 30/60/90 day plan. Try to avoid keeping it to a high level. The first 30 days can’t just be your “Sponge Phase”. Include some actionable plans that show how you intend to learn some of the finer points.
Do you have any thoughts on things our business could do better?
Your response to this question should make it clear how creative and innovative a thinker you have. It lets your potential employer know what level of value you’ll be bringing into the business. While you don’t have to strip their business down and build it back up with this question, it shows the interviewer if you’ve done your homework. Is there something in their marketing or branding you could do differently? Is there something about the interview process you’ve seen that could change for the better?
What’s important with a question like this is how you frame your answer. Don’t rag on the employer and convey your idea in a negative light. Stay positive and any feedback is given in a manner to build up and not to tear down.
How do you build a working relationship with a prospect?
99% of the job involves dealing directly with valued customers. This is the business’ major source of profit. It is therefore important to show them that their customers are in safe hands. How do you build rapport? How do you handle small talk? Are you personable in a conversation? These questions can be normally answered with the interactions that happen in the interview.
Would you rather have happy clients or never miss your quota?
Your answer to this should be tendered in a way that lets the recruiter know that you equally value both objectives and wouldn’t needlessly sacrifice one for the other. Even though the question is phrased as a “one or the other”, the interviewer isn’t expecting you to choose one as they are speaking in extremes but it gives context to how you approach goals and failure.
Where do you see yourself with us in the next 5 years?
Be as truthful as you can be here. Let them know your goals in the way it aligns with theirs. If you want to move into management, tell them. If you want to earn a certain dollar amount, tell them. This is the time to see if your idea of growth will match theirs.
What is your motivation?
It is important that you let them see that your drive goes beyond simple things like money. This is one simple way to start earning trust. Like we mentioned above in the skills section, are you motivated by intrinsic or extrinsic factors? There is nothing wrong with being motivated by money, but it’s how you explain it. Your motivation might be to give you kids the “best life possible” and money can play a part in that but isn’t the driving factor.
Do you work well with a team?
Team players, on the whole, tend to achieve more. Give examples of projects where you worked successfully with other people. The interviewer is looking at how you talk about the process of teamwork, not just the result that you achieved. Are you someone who makes the people around them better?
Please give an example of a time you had to think outside the box to close a deal with a prospect?
You’re being asked to sell yourself here. Point out your most significant achievement as a sales representative. Be careful not to come across as pompous or proud. When asked this question, if you don’t have an example in your head already, think and take a few moments to ground yourself before jumping into your answer.
What’s the title of the last book you read? Or the last thing you learned?
Give them an insight into just how much value you place on improving yourself. How do you grow? Is it by reading a book every day? Is it by taking online courses? Do you still have a learning mindset and take opportunities to grow and improve?
Pro tip: Did you watch the video at the top of this post? Because you could talk about how you learned about storytelling from a Uvaro video.
What approach would you take to explaining complicated software to a prospect who’s not too familiar with technology?
This is another test to determine your level of patience and communication skills. This is the concept of taking a complex system like a software process and breaking it down into consumable and easy to understand chunks of information.
What traits do you feel every good salesperson should possess?
Most times, this question is asked to offer insight into the ethics you consider important. Be clear about what you represent. This way, a lot of future misunderstandings are avoided.
Uvaro’s employer network helps match growing tech companies to passionate sales reps. Apply for admission to our training course to join as a rep, or to accelerate your hiring, check out our options for employers to hire great tech sales staff.
Chris took his marketing and journalism experience, and used it to break into tech sales with Uvaro
Uvaro taught Jake to change his job application strategy, and he started getting way more interviews