As a salesperson, you have a knack for inspiring confidence, especially with customers or even with colleagues. But sometimes that confidence may be misinterpreted while interviewing for a new job. If you have ever struggled with what to say during an interview so that you don’t oversell your experience, you’re not alone. The key to advancing in the recruitment process is learning how to highlight your strengths thoughtfully.
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If you want to ace your next sales interview, here are five ways you can stand out from other candidates for all the right reasons.
1. Use your research skills.
It is likely you are excellent at digging into data and doing your research about a potential new customer before meeting with them. Put that strength to use when entering a job interview too. You would be surprised how many candidates walk into an interview unprepared, giving you a competitive advantage to stand out by knowing about the company, its products and competitors in depth. A company’s website, LinkedIn page and recent news stories are great places to start finding information. Also study the job description to get a feel for how your competencies are a fit for the position.
2. Start a dialogue.
Interacting with customers will likely be a large part of your job and hiring managers want to see how you establish rapport and build relationships. Prepare questions that will engage the hiring manager, such as: what are the attributes of your most successful salespeople? Asking questions can help you assess how you will fit into the sales organization, while also getting the recruiter or hiring manager excited about your potential as an employee.
To help keep your responses concise and make the best possible impression, try a classic interviewing technique: the STAR method. It’s been around for decades for a reason. Here’s how it works:
- Describe a situation you were presented with.
- Explain the task you were trying to achieve.
- Define the actions you took to resolve the problem.
- Discuss the results, particularly quantifiable outcomes in terms of revenue, efficiency or impact (without embellishing).
Craft stories in advance that you can share in under 60 seconds. Even considering practicing with a significant other or trusted friend. He or she can give you feedback to avoid coming off as too boastful.
3. Show you are a team player.
In an interview, you are selling yourself, which means it is easy to talk too much about your personal achievements. Balance speaking about your own successes with those you achieved thanks to the support of a team. Some products or solutions may have a long sales cycle making your team a critical part to fulfilling your sales potential. Switch your language to focus on “we” versus “I” or “me” (i.e., “We were able to do…” vs. “What I did…”). This will convey the caliber of your accomplishments and demonstrate your commitment to collaboration.
4. Highlight key wins.
Presenting a laundry list of your accomplishments can come off as overselling. Curate a selection of your top accolades that closely fit the job requirements. On your resume and in conversation with the recruiter, focus on measurable sales data, products or solutions you have sold, or awards you have received.
5. Nail the follow up.
Nearly 75% of candidates fail to send a follow-up note, so be sure to email the recruiter a quick “thank you” within 24 hours of meeting. It is a simple way to show you are invested — and even gain a competitive edge.
Remember, in a sales interview your goal is to position your skills as a match to the company’s current challenges or needs. When you do, it is a win-win for both you and your potential employer and increases your chances to land the job you want.
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