How to smash it at an IT sales job interview
An outstanding performance at interview is essential to securing an IT sales role. We give some top tips to help you stand out from the crowd and discuss potential questions you may be asked.
Do your research
Have a good grasp of relevant industry data, trends and sales cycles. Look at the latest blogs, press articles, Gartner reports and other official data to gain as much information as possible.
Research the business you’re interviewing with. Have an in-depth idea of the products they offer, what the market says about these and then (armed with this knowledge) think about how you’d sell their products.
Approach it like a sales meeting (this time you’re the ‘Solution’!)
If you’re a great sales person, selling yourself should be second nature! See it from the company’s point of view- if you can’t sell yourself, how will you be able to sell their product/solution? You’ll be representing them in the marketplace so bear this in mind throughout your interview.
Treat the interview like you would a sales meeting – this time, you’re the ‘Solution’! Approach the interview in the context that you may be the solution, i.e.:
- What are their ‘Pain Points’ (i.e. What gaps/problems do they currently have? What will employing the right person help them achieve?)
- What’s important to you about working for them?
- What’s your value proposition?
- How will you create success at the company and solve their ‘pain points’?
- What are the challenges/possibilities/impact/consequences for you and the company if they employed you? What weaknesses does your ‘solution’ have? What does your ‘solution”’offer that the competition does not?
Try to be consultative rather than “salesy”. More than ever now, businesses are looking for sales people who offer solutions to their clients’ problems. Very few companies are looking for an aggressive, ’typical’ sales approach.
Questions to expect
Prepare to be ready to be asked questions about:
- Key sales principles and practices (e.g. handling objections, qualifying potential clients, closing the sale, etc.)
- Your thoughts on customer service (crucial to success in sales)
- Competency-based questions exploring your adaptability, persuasion, negotiation and presentation skills
Specific questions you’re likely to encounter include:
- What’s a typical sales process for you? (comment on any specific sales methodologies you use – most importantly, give REAL examples)
- What are your financial achievements to plan/target to date?
- What has been your biggest career challenge to date? How did you overcome it?
- Which sale are you most proud of and why?
- What would you do if you were not getting a response from one of your clients?
Take evidence of your achievements along with you
Any sales person loves to discuss their career achievements – not everyone will take evidence of this to the interview. Be careful not to take any information along that is confidential to your existing or previous employers as this implies carelessness. You could take along sales league tables, references, evidence of being in a ‘President’s Club’, P60s or payslips if they’re appropriate.
Have questions of your own prepared
When the interview is coming to a close and you’re asked if you have any questions, don’t just say “no”. Thoughtful questions indicate two things to the interviewer: 1) your interest in the company and the role, and 2) your ability to listen to what you’ve been told during the interview (they’re not going to want to hire a sales person who only talks about the product they’re selling and doesn’t listen to what they’re being told).
To avoid getting stuck, it’s a good idea to go in with a list of questions that you can pull out on request. Some examples include:
- What qualities do the most successful sales people at your company possess?
- What percentage of your sales force hit their targets?
- How much flexibility do sales people have to negotiate deals?
- What are the main barriers to success for your sales team?
- How big is your sales team and how is it structured?
- What’s the best thing about working in sales at the business?
Seal the deal!
As you would with any sales meeting, make sure you close the interview appropriately. If you feel it’s gone well, ask the interviewer if he or she has any objections or requires any further information from you. Ensure you ask specifically about the next steps and when you’ll know their thoughts on how the interview went as this conveys enthusiasm for the role.
We hope you found some of these tips useful – for further advice / assistance, or if you want to simply discuss your current situation and the potential options available to propel your sales career, please don’t hesitate to contact Amar at Jenson Knight!