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122 Sales Interview Questions

        posted by , February 10, 2013

A sales interview is much like a sales proposal — except that the product is you.

Salespeople are expected to be good at selling themselves. Interviews for choice positions can be tough.

It's important to drill as many questions as possible before your interview. This gives you a chance to polish your delivery. It also allows you to think about how your career successes relate to likely questions.

The following practice questions focus on outside consultative sales. They cover the broad range of skills expected of salespeople, sales operations and sales leadership.

Selling Skills

1. What steps have you taken in your current role to identify new prospects?

2. How do you identify leads?

3. Why do leads need to qualify?

4. What factors do companies look at to qualify leads?

5. Can you tell me about a time you had difficulty establishing rapport with a client?

6. Can you tell me about the most difficult customer you've had? How did you manage the situation?

7. What is the biggest client engagement you've handled?

8. Can you tell me about a time you lost a big account?

9. How do you keep big accounts satisfied?

10. What steps have you taken in your current role to manage your contacts?

11. How often do you go on sales calls?

12. How do you manage a customer who is always canceling appointments?

13. How do you manage unclear customer requirements?

14. How do you document customer requirements?

15. What's the most complex proposal you've developed? Did the deal close?

16. Have you responded to formal RFPs? How did it go?

17. What's the most powerful sales pitch you've used?

18. Can you pitch yourself to me now?

19. How did you learn to sell? Did you have a mentor?

20. Why do customers say no?

21. Why do customers say yes?

22. How do you handle difficult customer questions?

23. How do you answer a question when you don't know the answer?

24. Do customers read your emails? How do you follow up after a sales call?

25. What SFA or CRM software are you familiar with?

26. Whose job is it to enter contacts and appointments into a Sales Force Automation (SFA) tool?

27. Why is it important to record contacts, appointments, opportunities and orders in a tool such as a CRM?

28. If you could use any three software tools to help you sell, what would they be?

29. What's the most difficult product you've had to sell?

30. Why is it difficult to sell new products?

31. How do you learn about a new product?

32. Why is it important to understand the competition?

33. What techniques have you used to learn about competing products, organizations and sales strategies?

34. Is it more effective to sell features or benefits?

35. Can you pitch me a simple product such as a light bulb by stressing how it will solve my problems?

36. How do you identify customer needs?

37. How do you create customer needs?

38. Why is it important to understand a customer's buy cycles?

39. Why is it important to understand the dynamics of office politics on the customer-side?

40. How do you close deals?

41. How do you upsell?

42. Do you enjoy selling? Why?

43. If you could sell any product, what would it be?

44. Why are you interested in this role?


Negotiating

45. What's your style of negotiating?

46. Can you tell me about the biggest deal you negotiated in your current role?

47. How do you deal with hard bargainers?

48. Are you a hard bargainer?

49. Do you use nibbling techniques? Can you give me an example?

50. Can you give me an example of a negotiation strategy or technique that you've used?

51. What's the difference between a good negotiator and a great negotiator?

52. How do you influence a client?

53. Can you tell me about the last deal that you failed to close after negotiations?

54. Can you give me an example of a win-win negotiating strategy?

55. What are the most common reasons that deals fail to close?

56. Do you want to improve your selling skills in this role? If so, how?

57. How do you turn a no into a yes?


Sales Operations

58. What strategies have you used to boost sales? Did it work?

59. Can you tell me about a sales strategy you implemented that didn't go very well?

60. What is sales planning?

61. What was your biggest sales planning achievement?

62. What information is included in a sales report?

63. What sales metrics are executive managers such as a CFO and CEO most interested in?

64. What sales metrics are sales managers interested in?

65. What is sales benchmarking? Why is it important?

66. Why are sales margins important?

67. What is a typical margin for a deal?

68. How are margins calculated?

69. Have you managed sales approval processes?

70. How are sales incentives typically set?

71. Have you been involved in managing incentives programs or sales contests?

72. Have you managed sales data such as contacts, appointments, opportunities and orders?

73. How do you handle sales people who don't enter required information such as contacts into your sales tool?

74. Can you tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult person? How did you manage the situation?

75. Have you planned sales training and development?

76. What important communications does a sales team send out?

77. What is the difference between sales operations and marketing? What does the marketing team do?

78. Have you worked closely with marketing teams in the past?

79. How do you ensure that sales operations and marketing collaborate on new products?

80. What are sales collaterals? Have you developed any sales collaterals?

81. Have you managed relationships with sales partners?

82. What have you done in your current role to boost sales?


Sales Strategy

83. What is a sales strategy? Can you give me a concrete example?

84. Why does a sales program need a strategy?

85. In your current role, how have you contributed to strategic planning?

86. Can you give me an example of a highly effective sales strategy?

87. Have you contributed to sales organization design? How do you plan an effective sales organization?

88. When are sales incentives too high? When are they too low?

89. How do you motivate sales people to close deals?

90. How do you target your biggest customers' needs?

91. Can you give me an example of a sales strategy you used that closed a major deal?

92. How do you find strategic partnerships?

93. Why does the sales team need to have a technology strategy?

94. What is a go-to-market strategy?

95. How do you ensure that sales strategy is aligned with marketing strategy and the financial targets of the firm?


Sales Management

96. What is your management style?

97. What is management by objectives? Is it useful?

98. How do you ensure your team meets targets?

99. Do you go on sales calls with your team?

100. How do you help members of your team who are struggling to close deals?

101. How do you ensure that your team knows your products?

102. How do you learn about the competition?

103. How can you tell if a salesperson can sell?

104. How do you recruit talent?

105. How do you motivate your team to win?

106. Can you tell me about a time you missed a target? What did you learn from the experience?

107. Can you describe a situation when you had to step in to save a deal?

108. How do you manage selling costs?

109. What metrics do you use to monitor performance?

110. How do you ensure that your team inputs quality data into your sales tool?

111. Do you get personally involved in managing large clients? If so, how can you help?

112. What's the most challenging deal your team closed this quarter?

113. If marketing asked you to devote important resources to sell a product that you think is going to fail, how would you manage the situation?

114. If you assume this role, what will you do to boost sales?

More: 106 Management Interview Questions

Sales Pipeline Management

115. How do you monitor your sales pipeline?

116. How do you ensure that you'll have enough opportunities next quarter?

117. How do you maximize margins?

118. How much do you typically expect quotes to be discounted?

119. If you make a sales forecast for next quarter, how accurate is it?

120. How many sales calls should each salesperson make each week?

121. When a deal closes is your job done? If not, why?

122. What strategies have you used to upsell?

123. How do you maximize lifetime customer value?

This article is a installment in the ongoing series of posts called how to win at sales.

It's also included in the series how to win your next job.


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