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Sales Interview Questions

To help you prepare for your Sales interview, here are 20 interview questions and answer examples.

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Question 1 of 20

Why are you interested in sales?

How to Answer

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.

Written by Rachelle Enns on June 4th, 2019

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20 Sales Interview Questions & Answers

  • 1. Why are you interested in sales?

      How to Answer

      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.

      Written by Rachelle Enns on June 4th, 2019

      Entry Level

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns on June 4th, 2019

      Experienced

      "I have worked in sales for many years now, and it keeps my interest because every day brings a new challenge. No matter how great you are at sales, there will always be someone better, a bigger client to land, or a new product to learn. I love the variety, and it truly speaks to my competitive personality."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

  • 2. Tell me what kind of manager gets the best work product from you.

      How to Answer

      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

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "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?"

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Experienced

      "I feel I do my best work when I have a supportive manager who also gives me a right amount of latitude to do my thing. When I feel supported and trusted to take care of my business, I do well. I have earned this latitude and don't take it for granted, and know it is a privilege given to me because of years of a strong track record. I seek the same sort of trust and latitude in my next opportunity."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

  • 3. How often do you meet your sales goals?

      How to Answer

      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.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "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!"

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Experienced

      "Exceeding my sales goals is very important to me. I take my KPI's and exceed those first, which almost always results in me exceeding the financial targets set forth by my company. For instance, rather than performing 100 cold calls per week, I will perform 150. Instead of meeting the bare minimum for in-person current client visits, I will double the number. All of these actions ensure that I beat my targets nearly every week, by at least 20%."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

  • 4. Are you comfortable making cold calls? Tell me about your exposure to making cold calls.

      How to Answer

      Cold calling is a part of many sales based positions and the best of the best sales professionals often still have to partake in the task. Cold calling gets a bad rap because it seems pushy, and a waste of time to some, but many sales organizations utilize this technique as the backbone of their sales process. Discuss any experience you have with cold calling, and talk about how many cold calls you have made on an average day if you know this number. Also, if you have numbers related to your cold call conversion rate, this is excellent information to have.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "I have not made cold calls in any position; however, I feel that with the right training, I will exude confidence doing anything! I believe in the products and services here and will have no problem selling people on the features and benefits. Maybe my experience selling Girl Guide cookies door-to-door when I was young, will help me out in this department!"

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 5. Tell me how we can best motivate you.

      How to Answer

      The financial incentive motivates salespeople most often. But the interviewer is looking to hear if there are other proverbial carrots they can dangle to keep you excited. What drives you on the day to day? Is it a competition? A pat on the back? A collaborative environment? Talk about what makes you push through the daily grind in between the big paydays.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "Bartending isn't necessarily sales, but I think a lot of what I do in the service industry can relate to this particular sales position. I do well with competition and incentives. For instance, I seem always to shine when the restaurant does a featured cocktail that they push us to sell. The winner gets a gift card, a free dessert, or something of the sort. A little competition with an extra perk gets me firing on all cylinders."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      User-Submitted Answer

      "I like the be given a goal, allowed to have regular check in's with feedback from my manager on performance to that goal. I enjoy working cross collaboratively with others on goal attainment."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Marcie Wilmot

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Marcie Wilmot Reviewed the Above Answer

      Nice. Working towards a goal - especially alongside your team - and receiving regular check-ins by a manager is definitely a great motivator. Are you also motivated by verbal praise or recognition once you reach the goal? Financial incentives like bonuses? Feeling like your wants and needs are being heard? Having access to growth and learning opportunities? Being rewarded with social team events? Make sure to include all of the ways a company might possibly push you to succeed.

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  • 6. Share your biggest sales success.

      How to Answer

      As a sales professional, it shouldn't be difficult for you to have a story or two about a time when you closed a great sale or won in a complicated negotiation. Be sure to have a success story in your back pocket at all times. The key here is being able to share the steps of how you were successful in a way that can be duplicated, ideally in your new role at the company with which you're interviewing.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "While I know I lack traditional, office sales experience, I am always up- selling at the restaurant I work. I ask my customers if they want to upgrade to sweet-potato fries, or if they wish to order the 9-ounce glass of wine versus the 6-ounce. All of these small upsells make a significant impact on the restaurant's sales by the end of the day. I earned recognition for having the highest dollar amount for bills-closed-out for the month, and it felt great to have received that recognition."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      User-Submitted Answer

      "I created the largest imaging account in the country. I started with the top down, scheduling time with a VP of the emerging central region of a local healthcare organization. In his earlier years, I had worked with him to start a referral program and now wanted to help secure his success as a leader in his new organization with a non-referral, telehealth-driven platform. Once we received buy-in and approval on the proforma, we trained and kept metrics from day 1 and now it's the largest program in the country."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Marcie Wilmot

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Marcie Wilmot Reviewed the Above Answer

      Wow! This is definitely a strong example that will undoubtedly impress the interviewer. It shows that you're an effective networker, motivated, and proactive. Excellent job!

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  • 7. How do you best learn? What is the best way to train you?

      How to Answer

      Hiring, onboarding, and training is a costly, laborious process, so the interviewer wants to know that they'll be able to meet your needs for training within the parameters they have already set up as a company. There's no real 'right' answer here. Share how you prefer to learn and make it clear that you are adaptable and are willing to put in the hard work to be successful.

      Some methods of training include:

      - Field training
      - Sales theories and simulations
      - Book and resource-based training
      - One-on-one training
      - Group training
      - Classroom-based training
      - A third party, or external training
      - Script training
      - Roleplay
      - Mentor-based training

      Written by Rachelle Enns on June 4th, 2019

      Entry Level

      "In school, I best learn from books and resource-based training. I am a strong researcher, and when left on my own to study a subject or a new concept, I can independently map out my thoughts and retain the new information. With that said, I also greatly value the opportunity to jump into a situation and learn by doing."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      User-Submitted Answer

      "I learn best through the didactic presentation with repeated practice. I am a very quick learner and can watch an expert model a message or behavior, practice it on my own with my own spin, and be successful quickly in delivery. I work best independently as well as part of workshops with teammates, having someone to hold me accountable for continued improvement."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Marcie Wilmot

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Marcie Wilmot Reviewed the Above Answer

      Great! Since didactic is not a common word, perhaps include some clarification by also mentioning your preference of lectures and/or large group discussions? You've done a great job of explaining how you learn best. Can you think of an example to include here as well of a time when you were quickly and successfully trained? This will help make your response more memorable to the interviewer.

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  • 8. Tell me about a time you faced rejection. How did you handle it?

      How to Answer

      Sales positions are full of rejection, so the interviewer wants to know that you've faced rejection in the past and have overcome it. Share an example of a denial you've faced and how you overcame it. Choose a case that has a positive outcome and shows that you learned from the situation, and bounced back quickly.

      If this is your first sales position, share a relevant experience from your post-secondary experience, a volunteer role, or your athletics career. Perhaps you didn't get into your first choice university or make the soccer team. Whatever it is, show how you took the rejection in stride, learned, and moved on with gusto. Pivot back to how this life experience has taught you something and try to connect it very clear to your potential new sales role.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "I initially applied to the College of Business at ABC University and did not get in. It was my dream school and the first step in my life plan, so it was a blow to be rejected. I took a day or two to mourn the loss of that dream and then figured out a plan B that would still get me where I wanted to be. I decided to go to a local college for a year to get some credits done and got a 4.0. I reapplied to ABC Business the following year and got in, with a scholarship. This situation taught me that I might get knocked down, but will always get back up - and usually, there's a lesson to be learned from it. Now I still have a plan B and am ready to be agile whenever a roadblock appears. I think this type of agility and determination has prepared me for a successful career in sales."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 9. What do you consider an ideal sales job for you? *

      How to Answer

      It's crucial that you've read the job description carefully and give an answer that is both truthful but aligns with the position. You need to have gathered what your day will look like and how you'll get your prospects. Is this through an existing list, or are they all sought out by you? Know what type of sale it is (inside or outside? long sales cycle or short?) and what you're responsible for (cold calling or all warm leads?), so you describe a position that is in line with the one they're looking to fill.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "My ideal sales position is with a company that is mentorship-driven, offering regular coaching opportunities, to people like myself who are new to sales but have a lot to offer. I would like my great transferable skills such as upselling, customer service, and dispute resolution, utilized and then better honed to make me a top sales professional."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 10. Would you cold call for a year if it meant you had a steady client list afterwards?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is looking to see if you'll put in the long hours of grunt work to reap the rewards of a stable business pipeline of business. People often focus on the wins of sales when talking about their career. For instance, the commission or the closing of a big account, and they will gloss over the hours and years of work it took to get to that point. It's vital that you show you know you're not going to 'phone it in' and have your career, customers, and commissions handed to you without a lot of sweat and hard work. With that said, answer honestly. Put your spin on it. Don't say, 'Yes, of course.' Give it some thought and make the answer truthful and accurate to you.

      Written by Rachelle Enns on June 4th, 2019

      Entry Level

      "I love being on the phone, I love connecting with people, and I love the idea of getting them to say yes, even when they weren't initially inclined to do so. Not to mention, I know that I can't expect success to be handed to me overnight. So, yes, I'd be willing to cold call for a year to catapult my career. Upfront investment in the long-term health of my job is something I can get behind."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 11. If you could change one thing about your current role, what would it be and why?

      How to Answer

      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.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 12. Tell me how you developed your largest existing account.

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is looking to learn how you took a modest account and grew it into something sizable. Typically, the most significant opportunity lies in an existing account rather than new sales as far as ROI goes, so it's essential that you're able to sign a new client, get their business, and continue to extract more business from them. Share a success story about how you've done this in the past.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "Because I am new to sales, I want to learn everything that I can about gaining large accounts, from my training program with your company. As an experienced bartender, I have clients who spend a lot of money every weekend, buying shots for the room, for example. I encourage this behavior by creating a fun, party-driven environment. I would do the same in sales. Elevate the excitement level when it comes to the product, and encourage larger repeat sales."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 13. What goals have you set for yourself this year?

      How to Answer

      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).

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 14. Describe a situation when you negotiated terms with a tough customer.

      How to Answer

      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.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 15. Walk me through your sales experience.

      How to Answer

      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.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 16. How would your current coworkers describe you?

      How to Answer

      This question is a version of 'describe yourself' but with a twist. By asking how your coworkers would describe you, you're more likely to give a candid, less canned response. Choose a few adjectives that are both truthful and ideally connected to a sales personality/career. This question would not be the time to describe yourself as reserved and introverted. Instead, opt for characteristics such as determined, goal-oriented, hardworking, or self-motivated.

      Written by Rachelle Enns on June 4th, 2019

      Entry Level

      "My current coworkers would describe me as fast-paced, dedicated, and reliable. I currently work in a restaurant, and am known as the go-to for picking up shifts, or staying later than I was initially scheduled to help another teammate out. I love when the restaurant is busy, and I have more than my fair share of tables because I work well under pressure in a fast-paced environment, which is something all of my coworkers would corroborate."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 17. What are some of the challenges you see facing this industry?

      How to Answer

      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.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "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?"

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 18. Describe a time your company did not deliver on its product or service, and how you responded.

      How to Answer

      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.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 19. What is the most important trait a sales professional should possess?

      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

      Written by Rachelle Enns on June 4th, 2019

      Entry Level

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      User-Submitted 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."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Rachelle Enns

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Rachelle Enns Reviewed the Above 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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  • 20. Tell me about a time you strayed from your company's standard protocol. How did it turn out?

      How to Answer

      There's a fine line here between ignoring the company's protocol and seeking a creative solution that is beneficial to all parties. Sometimes the SOP (standard operating procedure) does not fit all clients or situations, so it's crucial to demonstrate that you can think outside of the box. Choose an example in which the outcome was positive. Give a little background on the situation, why the standard procedure wouldn't have worked, and what you did.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

      Entry Level

      "The restaurant which I work has a no refunds rule, even for dishes sent back. We can replace the dish with something of equal value but never refund a customer. I had a table with a person who had a peanut allergy. The kitchen messed up and made a dish that contained a trace of peanuts. The person at my table had a mild reaction and was entirely upset, which I fully understood. I comped the meal and decided that if my boss was not happy with me breaking the no refunds rule, that it would come out of my paycheck. At that moment it was more important to me to show integrity as a server than to follow the rules to a tee. It turned out fine in the end, as my manager saw how passionate I was about the solution I delivered."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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