How to Have Your Best Sales Interview Ever
Salespeople who interview better win more offers. So, what’s the secret to better interviews?
First, think about how salespeople are seen by the rest of the actors in the corporate world. We are loud, get away with saying things that aren’t PC, we talk a lot, and we look like we’re having a great time.
When recruiting for a salesperson, it’s almost expected that the salesperson entertains, communicates, and tells stories.
Afterall, it’s the opposite of interviewing an accountant who says all of three words in 30 minutes. The conversation will be lively. However, it’s expected.
So, what can you do to be different? How will you stand out?
There’s an old saying; if you’re talking, you’re not selling. Keep this in mind.
When you are on the call with a recruiter or a hiring manager, remember to listen. Even if you are the most energetic, lively and exciting salesperson on the planet, if you can’t listen, you won’t make it through the interview process.
You won’t be seen as a high-level consultative salesperson.
Let’s assume you are an action taker. So how do you take action on this advice?
$ Become Aware—You can’t fix problems you don’t know exist, problems you don’t acknowledge that exist, or problems that you think aren’t really problems. On some level, if you’re a talker, you probably suspect it. Maybe you even like this about yourself. The problem is being “a talker” has also helped you at some point in life. So, it can be hard to give up.
You’ll have to accept the fact that what got you where you are today, those skills, may not take you where you want to go in the future. Some tendencies will have to be thrown away. So, make peace with the idea that you need to become a better listener. It’s the fastest way to go from a 120K a year to 150K-200K a year.
$$—Advertise to Yourself–Advertising works. If you see something enough times, you’ll start to become familiar with it. Eventually you’ll start to accept what’s being advertised. You can use advertising to improve yourself. Write a note as a reminder and put it on your desk, put in near your computer monitor and advertise to yourself. The note might say—Listen MORE.
$$$—Bring Your Curiosity–Come to every conversation prepared. If you do your homework, you’ll come up with a few interesting questions. You’ll start to get curious. Write your questions down in advance and bring them to the conversation. When you show up to an interview with questions, it’s easy to weave them into a conversation and get the other person talking.
$$$$— Stay On-point —Think of it like speed dating. You have 5 minutes to decide if you like the person enough to continue the conversation. This can be an excellent strategy for approaching people you aren’t familiar with and who don’t know you. Work on getting right to the point as quickly as possible.
Interviewer: What’s your quota?
Old You: Wow, that’s a good question. Our quotas change around here all the time. We didn’t even get this year’s number until March; can you believe it? My boss was so angry because he didn’t know what our team’s goals were. He almost quit and went back to Oracle. If he left, boy, I’d be upset. I don’t know how I’d get anything done without him. He’s the only reason I’m here. In fact, he brought me over to the company from my previous job. We used to work together at Oracle for a few years. He’s the best manager I’ve ever had. He’ll be a great reference for me, I’m sure of it. He probably knows I’m looking.
Interviewer: (What??? I guess he doesn’t hit his quota, or he’d say what it is already! I got the quota dodge. Ugh)
Interviewer: What is your quota?
New You: It’s about $1.5M ARR for 2019, and it’s gone up over the last three years. But I’ve met it every year. Probably becuase I spend every spare second prospecting for new business.
$$$$$— Practice the Lights ——Mark Goulston outlines an easy to understand strategy in his book, Just Listen. In a nutshell, here’s exactly how it works:
Time is broken into three chunks. Beginning middle and end as follows.
Green light-first 20 seconds your talking. The listener is happy and thinks this is fun!
Yellow light-from 20-40 seconds into the conversation. The listener is getting antsy and starting to wait for you to stop talking.
Red light-This is around the 40-second mark. If you get to a red light too many times, you will lose your listeners patience. They will write you off as an over-talker.
Now I haven’t read the book, but I’d take this one step further. Pull out your iPhone and start recording yourself answering a question.
Look at how many seconds you’re talking. See if you’re a red light zone violate and think about how you can consolidate your responses.
$$$$$$— Think about Why —If you’re talking too much, see if you can get to the root of the problem. Some salespeople talk in circles to avoid answering the question. Others do it to direct the conversation to a different place. Many talk out of nervousness, or even because they feel it’s their job to be entertaining.
Putting it all Together
Listening is an art.
It’s not natural for most, so stand out by developing this skill. Master it, and you’ll be a real sale standout. Don’t be surprised if you get more job offers, more customers, and more compensation.