Achieve Career Success
Ever wonder what your life might be like if you had better job prospects? If you want to put your sales career on the fast track, it pays to be with the right company, selling strong solutions, at the right time.
So how do you make the most of your sales career over the long haul? Strong performance on the job is essential.
But at some point, you have to separate yourself from the pack and learn how to draw high-level opportunities towards you.
One proven way to do that is to master strong interview skills. Developing exceptional interview skills increases your ability to compete for some of the best sales opportunities on the market.
Not to mention, the better you interview the more money you’ll make.
Prepare and land your next sales job by doing, not studying, these 32 action items…
1. Your preparation must be so deep, thorough, and complete it’s apparent to everyone who meets with you there’s something different about you.
Prepare like there’s no tomorrow. It will boost your confidence and help you stand out from other candidates.
2. If possible, request or attend a product demo.
If you’re going to sell something, don’t you want to see it? Everyone who signs up for a demo gets extra points. Even if a corporate email address is requested, and you can’t provide one, don’t let that stop you.
Try to sign up regardless, even if it’s with your personal email account. Depending on the company, you might get through anyway.
3. Memorize the company’s product line.
Know the names of the products sold. Conduct primary research within your network and see if you can find customers who use the products.
4. Download white papers and case studies.
Then read them. All of them. Make note of the clients they have acquired and what they’re saying about the solution offerings.
5. Read press releases.
Check out the company’s website and look for new product launches, executive leadership changes, and other information.
Use press releases to point you in the right direction and cut straight to important company events.
They have pre-selected the most relevant and newsworthy topics of conversation for you in advance.
6. Research the space and the competitive landscape.
Learn about competitors in the space. Use Gartner reports to size up the competitive landscape. Find out who’s in what quadrant and why.
7. Check out popular sales books.
Review selling methodologies and terminology. This will help you explain your sales process succinctly. It will strengthen your answers and support your explanations to common sales cycle questions.
Sales people often rely on natural ability; popular sales books will provide you with terminology and structure.
You’ll be amazed at what you can find in everyday sales books to help you address interview questions.
8. Learn names.
There’s no time like the present to start learning and using the names of your future coworkers.
Start with the people you’ll be meeting with, then move on to executive management, administrative support, human resources, sales team leaders, and more. Study their backgrounds and learn about them online.
Try to piece together an organizational chart to help you remember key groups and clusters of employees.
9. Do some more digging.
Don’t be afraid to get muddy. Reach out to former employees via LinkedIn and see what kind of information you can gather. You never know who will provide you with an inside tip you can use to help you land the job.
10. Invest the necessary time because your sales career is worth it.
Even though you may not know everything about the hiring manager you are meeting with, you’ll know a lot more if you do your homework before the first meeting.
Does this take hours of time? Sure it does.
Is your career worth the investment? Of course it is. The decisions you make will affect your career for years to come, so approach your search with rigor.
Take all the time you need to prepare adequately.
11. Study well-known sales formulas.
If you don’t have a sales strategy, it’s never too late to adopt one. Managers appreciate salespeople who follow formulas and study their craft. People have faith in science and structure.
Having a sales methodology gives everyone a sense of comfort and security.
12. Look the part you are interviewing for and make sure you fit in.
If you’re unsure about what might be suitable, take the safest path and ask. Think neat and crisp, rather than torn and worn. Also, brown is not an interview color.
13. Make friends and build your confidence.
Call the company you will be interviewing with and see what you can find out. How do they answer the phone? How do they offer to assist you?
Let them know you’ll be interviewing with them soon, and would like to know if you need ID to get into the building.
Find out if they recommend a specific parking garage nearby. These questions help build a connection before you arrive.
You’ll be more relaxed when you get to the interview knowing you’ve already made a friend at the company.
14. Stay in control of the controllable.
Every interview is different, so it’s important to manage the items you have complete control over. You can control your ability to arrive on time so get to the interview five minutes before your scheduled appointment.
If you’re too early, you’ll put unnecessary pressure on the hiring manager to attend to you right away.
If you’re late, you will struggle to recover from an unnecessary mistake that was within your complete control.
15. Use body language to convey confidence.
Focus on looking comfortable. Be aware of any discomfort signals you may habitually express and work to minimize them.
For example, don’t rattle your pen on the desk. Keep your hands visible on, not beneath, the table.
Don’t cough or frown when answering questions about compensation, former supervisors, and when explaining reasons for leaving your current employer.
16. Relevant questions are good questions.
Well thought out questions help you stand out, showcase your research, and demonstrate thoughtfulness. The importance of asking good questions boils down to three components.
First, keep questions relevant to the person you are meeting with.
Second, choose appropriate questions based on the stage of the interview you are currently in.
Third, keep questions congruent with the position you are interviewing for. For example, diving into vacation time and benefits on the first interview isn’t going to help you win a job offer. Benefits and vacation time are topics for final stages.
17. Don’t be shy.
People hire applicants who are enthusiastic, excited, and want the job. Express your interest in moving forward by asking for the job. But do it in way that’s comfortable for you. Leave the employer’s office with a definitive next step.
18. Neatness is a sign of trust.
Don’t come to the interview with tattered folders and sloppy notes. Prepare as if you were going to meet the President of the United States. Would you go with a flimsy folder and a green spiral notebook?
19. Listen more than you think you should.
Yes, you’re a salesperson. But don’t do all the talking. Exceptional salespeople are exceptional listeners. Demonstrate your ability to listen and ask good questions.
Turn off the phone and focus your complete attention on the interviewer. It’s not uncommon to spend 80% of the first interview listening when you’ve mastered this skill.
20. Be interruptible and don’t interrupt.
Some interviewers are short on time and need definitive numeric information, not stories. Their job is to gather specific details around clear-cut metrics. Once they have it, they need to move on to the next question.
If you’re still talking, they will need to interrupt you, and you will need to let them. The idea is to let the interviewer take control.
When you let them direct the conversation, you’re sure to be talking about the information they’re interested in gathering.
Avoid interrupting by developing the simple habit of counting to two before you speak. You’ll be surprised at how often you don’t get to two before the person starts talking. Let them.
21. Draw up a 30-60-90 day plan after the first interview.
Your plan doesn’t need to be War and Peace; it just needs to be an idea of what you would do to get started. You may share this plan at some point in the interview process; you may not, but have one.
22. Want the job.
Sometimes people think if they show too much eagerness, they will get a low offer, this is not true.
The person who is the most interested typically generates the strongest offer.
Show your interest for the company, position, and leadership throughout each step of the process.
23. Provide specific tangible details.
Don’t make the mistake of using generalities and vague concepts for answers. Provide examples demonstrating your ability to win new sales and hunt new business.
Provide quantifiable metrics around sales cycles, average deal size, clients won, percentage of deals lost and more.
Render specifics as much as possible and don’t overuse blanket statements. Avoid being ambiguous with your answers by providing details, names, clients, and specific numeric results.
24. Be positive, always.
Never speak negatively about anyone or anything no matter how upset you are with your former boss or current employer. If the hiring manager wants to make a negative comment in the interview, you can simply say, “I understand.”
Speaking poorly about a mutual colleague, former employer, or competitor will not help you win a compelling job offer.
25. Brace yourself for surprise. Things aren’t going to be perfect.
The interviews occurring in our imagination are always idealistic. You know how it goes…The hiring manager focuses all of their attention entirely on you. They ask you the requisite questions, especially the ones you’ve anticipated and prepared for.
You answer all the questions perfectly. Then the hiring manager stands up, smiles, and shouts, “You’re hired! I knew the second you walked in the door I wanted to hire you.” The offer letter goes out the very next day.
And of course, it’s at the very top of the salary range. No obstacles, no waiting, no delayed rounds of exhaustive interviews or tense negotiations.
In actuality, you normally spill your water on the desk during the first interview. Perhaps you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach; the interviewer doesn’t like you, and hates something you said.
Maybe the hiring manager challenges you on your responses.
Don’t let these small things deflate you. You can recover quickly from little things that happen unexpectedly.
Chances are it’s not as big of a deal as you might believe. Go forward with confidence. Don’t let your enthusiasm wane.
Keep on truckin’ . Remember perfection isn’t required. Flexibility, perseverance, and the ability to overcome obstacles are required for sales success.
26. Know what’s on your resume.
Be prepared for questions about anything and everything stated on your resume. Today many people don’t write their own resumes. This is acceptable and often beneficial, but be prepared to discuss all the information you’ve provided.
Don’t be caught off guard with questions about jobs listed on your work history from eight years ago.
If it’s on your CV, you own it, so be prepared to discuss the information in detail.
27. Confidence sells.
Never underestimated the power of confidence. It is one of the key characteristics necessary for sales interviews.
Build confidence before you head off to the meeting by investing your time in pre-interview preparation.
28. Know your product—YOU.
You are the product and service, so know your skills, strengths, accomplishments, work history, and results.
Self-awareness is critical to your professional success. Invest the time necessary to review past achievements, understand core strengths, and find areas where you need further skill development.
29. Speak their language not yours.
If you don’t already know it, learn their lingo. When interviewing in a new space, pay special attention to acronyms and domain terminology.
When the interviewer mentions a term, you will have familiarized yourself with the lingo in advance and further explanation won’t be necessary.
When it comes to discussing the sales positions you’ve held, don’t use jargon. The hiring manager may not be familiar with your acronyms. When in doubt, use language anyone can understand.
30. Work with the hiring manager.
Hiring managers learn what it’s like to work with you during the interview process. They request 30/60/90 day sales plans and group presentations so they can interact with you.
Pay close attention to the details during the interview process because small things matter. Be responsive, send thank you notes after each interview, and make it easy for them to work with you.
Just as you would if the hiring manager were your new boss.
31. Be social.
Post-interview, invite the people you’ve met with to your LinkedIn network. This is a great way to remind them of your interest and achieve another touch point during the process.
32. Do it today, not tomorrow.
Be responsive and available. When given options, book the first possible day to interview. If you’re always picking the furthest day out, you may give the impression you’re not interested.
If ever there were a time to throw your whole heart, mind, and body into what you’re doing to succeed, it would be before the interview ever begins.
The keys to interview success are your ability to think, act, and plan effectively. Use this list to refine your interview skills through preparation and you’re bound to have several job offers to choose from.
Before you know it, you’ll be selecting the best job from multiple offers.
Now imagine what that will do for your sales career.