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Sales Interview

20 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated June 4th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 20
What is the most important trait a sales professional should possess?
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How to Answer
It is likely that the way you answer this question is the way that you see yourself! Think of a unique trait that you believe all sales professionals should have. Be sure to go beyond the surface and avoid saying things like, 'people-person,' for instance. Dig a bit deeper.

Some examples of essential traits may be:

- Curious
- Achievement driven
- Strong sense of duty
- Dominant
- Ability to handle emotional disappointments
- Unafraid and unabashed
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Top 20 Sales Interview Questions with Full Content
What is the most important trait a sales professional should possess?
It is likely that the way you answer this question is the way that you see yourself! Think of a unique trait that you believe all sales professionals should have. Be sure to go beyond the surface and avoid saying things like, 'people-person,' for instance. Dig a bit deeper.

Some examples of essential traits may be:

- Curious
- Achievement driven
- Strong sense of duty
- Dominant
- Ability to handle emotional disappointments
- Unafraid and unabashed

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I believe that at the core of every high-performing sales professional is someone who is unafraid to get a 'no.' They will try and try again, and continue to show courageousness to gain a sale."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In my opinion, one trait that every sales professional should have is the ability to handle the emotional ups and downs that come there way. In any given day, a sales professional will have a few wins, then a few losses. To be able to navigate disappointment, without it affecting your mood for too long, or your overall performance is huge."
Anonymous Answer
"I believe dominance is the most important trait to have as a sales professional. Dominance to take over a room at a sales presentation or instruct a customer to a correct solution to their problem. It is essential to state, not a dominance that is off-putting and arrogant."
Rachelle's Answer
This is such a unique answer and so very true! Any great sales professional will command a room and be a positive presence at the same time. Well said!
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What are some of the challenges you see facing this industry?
The interviewer wants to know that you've done your research on this particular industry, and the patterns involved. Whether you're a seasoned professional with years of experience in the same sector or fresh-faced in your first role, or even transitioning to a new industry after years in sales, it's essential that you know not only the company you're interviewing with, but also the scope you'd sell to, if hired. Be sure to do your research on competitors, where the company positions itself with its unique selling points, and what the industry is doing as a whole.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have two years' experience selling to the automotive vertical and know that a lot of profits are on the backend, so I believe there is a lot of opportunities there. Also, I know the automotive industry is antiquated in many ways and a bit resistant to technology, so I know that this solution will be both beneficial to your clients, but also a bit of a tough sell. I wholeheartedly welcome the challenge."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The main challenge in restaurant franchise sales is likely the financial burden on the franchisee when it comes to raising initial capital. The amount of time it can take to build a successful, profitable restaurant, even with a big name behind you, is significant. Because of that, I think the franchisor can get in a precarious position where they have a turnover, which while not immediately impactful to their bottom line since the franchisee absorbs the loss, does ultimately hurt the franchise in the end. Would this be an accurate statement, from your depth of experience in restaurant franchise sales?"
Walk me through your sales experience.
This question is a standard interview question for any position, but it's essential not just to read them your resume. The interviewers already have a copy! Be sure to talk about your sales experience, highlighting your most significant accomplishments. This task is especially important if your resume doesn't give a full picture of how much sales were involved in a seemingly non-sales position (think: hospitality industry, customer service, account management). Show off! Explicitly state your transferable skills.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have been in sales for a couple of years now, primarily as a business development team member. I will spend most of my day cold calling, up to 50 calls per day. The main goal is to fill my appointments with new customers. Currently, I am the top rep in my office, earning a close rate of 67% with a company expectation of 25%. I know I am ready to take the next leap in sales and add some account management, and outside sales experience, to my roster of experience."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have been selling since I was a little kid. I used to make my brothers work the lemonade stand with me, to their dismay. I set records for most Girl Scout cookies sold, and same goes for a fundraiser for my high school soccer team. I've been at the same restaurant job, but moved up the ranks, since high school and all throughout college. I worked the host stand, then carry-out, then as a server, and now also I do stints as the counter/bar person as well as shift lead. I have consistently set records for sales contests to the tune of management setting special rules for me after I won the monthly contests six months in a row. What I lack in traditional sales experience, I make up for in hustle and years spent figuring out how to sell to and deliver impeccable customer service."
What goals have you set for yourself this year?
Goal setting is especially important in a sales position as the majority of your compensation will likely come from commissions. Also, setting smart goals tells your interviewer that you are ambitious and goal-oriented, which is something they want in their new hire. Use this time to show them that you set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).

Rachelle's Answer #1
"One goal that I have set for myself is to take one new sales training workshop per quarter, to further hone my skills in different areas. I have already registered for two; one on cold calling and the other or more effective prospecting. I am looking for two others focused on the art of negotiations and the hard close."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The most significant goal that I have set for myself is to land a job in the sales industry and get out of the restaurant industry. I have a timeline in mind, which is before the end of June. To prepare myself I have found a mentor who is a professional salesperson, and she is teaching me what I need to know about the industry."
Describe a situation when you negotiated terms with a tough customer.
This question may seem highly specific and could throw you off during the interview, but don't let it. Be prepared for precise situational questions. It's very likely you've had some experience negotiating or dealing with a demanding customer. If you have not, draw on a time that you had to settle with a difficult partner in a group project, a teammate, or a coach/professor.

Be sure to share an instance that highlights your identification of the point of contention, what steps you took to share your side and get them to see your point of view, and how you resolved the issue. Share lessons learned from the experience that will be of value as you move into your next role.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When I was working as a recruiter I had a client ask for a refund for their candidate placement when the individual quit their job after just six months. My company had a 3-month guarantee where we would replace the individual, at no additional cost. However, six months was a stretch. The client was unhappy, and I valued their business, so I offered half off replacement search with a 6-month guarantee. They agreed, and we moved forward with the search. Rules and parameters are important to have, but I firmly believe that you need to be flexible at times to gain long-term relationships and long-term clients."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I can't say I have negotiated a whole lot with a tough customer because the restaurant where I work says that the customer is always right, but I've certainly handled a disgruntled customer that is unhappy with me or the food. I am still sure to take their concerns and complaints seriously, clarify the "why" of the complaints to understand their side and address what we can do to help improve the situation for them and make them a loyal customer. I know what an important opportunity it is to win a lifelong customer when you "wow" with an experience that was otherwise a sour one."
Why are you interested in sales?
This question may seem simple, but sometimes these 'easy' ones can trip you up. Spend some time developing your 'why' so you can give a meaningful, truthful answer to this question. Share what motivates you and why you think sales is a good fit for you.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I love being around people, and for as long as I can remember, I have been selling. From setting up lemonade stands as a kid to breaking records selling Girl Scout cookies to consistently winning sales contests at the department store I worked at in high school. I love the chase, the pitch, and the close. I form relationships quickly and naturally, which aids in my closing the sale. I feel it is the most natural fit for me in my career."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I've thought a lot about what I want to be when I "grow up," and I have always come back to sales. I feel that my best qualities shine when I am looking to make a sale. I get excited, and I show my personality and bond easily with the prospect. I love figuring out how I can understand their needs and what will make them say "yes" to whatever it is I'm selling. Whether that's a special drink at the restaurant or an up-sell from the menu, I embrace the challenge. I know that I'm new to the career of sales in a professional sense, but having worked in a restaurant for so many years and consistently led the pack on sales contests, I know I find motivation through financial incentive. I'm competitive and driven, and that's something that I think pairs well with a successful career in sales."
Describe a time your company did not deliver on its product or service, and how you responded.
A company or its solution is not going to be perfect at all times, or at least not a perfect fit for everyone. It is essential that you can get out in front of the issue and address the shortcoming with your customer to build loyalty and trust. In an age of hiding behind text and email, it's so important to demonstrate to the customer, and in this case, the interviewer, that you aren't afraid to face an uncomfortable situation head-on, own up to the problem and get creative in your solution to keep your customer happy.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My customer recently purchased inventory in the price range of $30,000, and it arrived on his lot damaged. I received an irate email with photos of the damage and an estimated price tag for repairs. Rather than respond by email, I got in a conference room with the Director of Operations. We called the client immediately to not only apologize but to come up with a plan to get the inventory off of his lot and with assurances to secure him new, quality inventory by the end of the week. By taking ownership and apologizing over the phone for our shortcoming, we restored his faith in our company. Later, he doubled down on his investment in our services, becoming one of the top customers for the company as a whole."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Over the years, I've had many unhappy restaurant customers. I listen to why they're unhappy, validate their concern or disappointment, and inform them of the steps I am taking to remedy the situation for them. An example is when we were offering gluten-free crusts, and then suddenly we stopped because the product was too expensive and only good for those who were gluten sensitive, not celiac. I had customers come in specifically for this offering and had to explain to them why we couldn't offer the GF product anymore. I apologized, validated how frustrated they must feel, and offer some other solutions of things they COULD eat. These customer resolution skills will be constructive in my sales career as I listen, validate, and correct. A recipe to please most any customer with most any problem."
Tell me what kind of manager gets the best work product from you.
Management style or personality can make or break a person at times, so it's important to be in a position where you'll work well with your direct supervisor and with the overall management hierarchy. Tread lightly here, but be honest. You don't want to talk yourself out of a job by potentially blasting your future manager's style, but you also want to be sure that you will be in a position to succeed if you're given the job, ideally with a management style that suits you.

Some management styles include:

- Authoritative
- Directive
- Affiliative
- Participative
- Pacesetting
- Coaching

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I currently have a manager who is very much a pacesetter. She is high energy and likes to motivate her team. Of all my managers, I have responded the best to her style. I seek to work for someone who is passionate about their job, their team, and achieving great successes."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I would like to work for a manager who takes a strong coaching and mentor-based approach. Being newer to my career, it is important to me that I work under someone who has an interest in developing me, professionally. Would you say this describes the management style here?"
If you could change one thing about your current role, what would it be and why?
Without complaining, or appearing to be negative, state what you'd change about your job now. Make sure you point out something that is not part of this potential new position, or you may be talking yourself out of a job! Be concise, as confident as possible without being phony, and include any lessons your current situation has taught you. It's important to end on a positive note and not sound as though you're whining or blaming. Be sure to discuss what you are doing to make the best of the situation.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Something I struggle with at work is lack of leadership from the executive level. I feel that our VP of Sales gets excited about new ideas, but isn't working to help us implement them and discern not what is just new and exciting, but what will be effective. So, if I could change anything, I'd love to see more consistent, boots-on-the-ground leadership. The upside here is that I have a lot of flex to try out my ideas for change so that autonomy is something that I'm grateful for."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I currently am working at a restaurant, so it's not my dream job by any stretch. I would like the ability to control more of my destiny. I love the hustle and bustle of the restaurant and how great service usually equates to great, or better, tips. However, I'm at the mercy of schedules that may cut me earlier than I'd have liked before I hit my income goal for the day. That said, I understand there are lessons to be learned that apply to "real world sales," so I'm taking it all as practice for my future career in sales."
How often do you meet your sales goals?
The interviewer is looking for details on the successes in your sales career. Come to your interview prepared to discuss your sales targets, and results, over the past year or so. You need to be able to show the interviewer that you have a consistent record of winning! The more numbers and percentages you can offer, the better.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have tracked my sales weekly, for the past two years, and have records that I can show you as well. I perform consistently in the top 3 for my district, ranging from 98%-125% to goal. I am a high-achiever who always keeps my eye on the prize!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I like to pursue more than just the bare minimum, in everything that I do. Although I am new to my career, with little to show regarding hard sales numbers, my references will attest that I do everything in my power to win. Whether that be as the captain of my volleyball team, or handing in the best research paper possible, a day or so before my professor's deadline."
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