45+ Best Sales Interview Questions To Get Hired As A Seller

Sales Interview Questions

In the modern business world, the need for professional salespeople has never been more clear. This is especially true in software and startup technology industries, where the creation of products is becoming easier but the ability to generate substantive revenue is becoming harder. As a sales professional, you will be in high demand. Experienced sales professionals should know the answers to a slew of important sales interview questions many of which could easily be asked during the interview and vetting process. The questions and answers below should serve as a walkthrough of how you ought to respond to common questions during an interview for your new potential sales job. These common interview questions should be useful to anyone looking to secure a job in the growing technology sales sector.

Before we begin

Before we get into the sales interview questions and answer sheet, I want to show you a quick video describing the building and development of high-performance sales teams. Truly, this is what most future employers are going to strive for. So when you, in advance, can better understand the needs of sales teams today — you'll have a better shot at getting employed. Take a quick glance at the video before you get into the questions.

Sales Interview Questions & Answers Table Of Contents


1. How do you keep up to date with the target market?

Even if the target market of the last job is totally different from the one that you are interviewing for, this question is essential. It helps to demonstrate a sales professional’s ability to keep up with changes in an evolving industry. You should be ready to bring up information from recent demographic mappings and listings concerning the area of choice. It would also be very smart to seek information from online forums and social media sites detailing the latest trends in the target market.

2. In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating your relationship with existing customers as opposed to looking for new clients? Why?

The best way to respond to this question is likely to illustrate the inclusivity of your approach to the sales process. Interviewers will be refreshed to hear from a candidate who both stresses the cultivation of a close customer relationship and continues to search for new clients.

3. Are you more comfortable with the cultivation of relationships or the identification of new opportunities?

This question forces the interviewee to pick a side. You should consider stressing that you like to cultivate relationships because they are a means through which a salesperson can earn more from the same group of customers and ensure a steady income. Through the cultivation of relationships, it becomes more possible to get new opportunities from other clients towards the future as the reputation of an individual begins to spread and expand.

4. What do you know about your customers?

This is a fundamental question to ask during the early parts of the interview stages, and the question is likely to crop up in most sales position interviews. They want to see if the salesperson did their homework and has the knowledge to effectively chart and manage a market. The salesperson may be misinformed on who the customer is and, if that is the case, it would be a chance for them to clarify on the matter. Give a description of the market according to hard data and preferences. A combination of demographics such like the age, gender, work status, race and even religion of the target consumer base is an effective way to answer. From there, the description should dive into spending habits, preferences and ideals, and political and moral convictions.

5. What do you know about the competition?

This is a question to see if the interviewee has done their research to see who else within that particular space might pose a challenge to the interviewing company, as well as what aspects of the company’s product and model sets them apart. The statistics on this answer should focus on the competitors’ transaction volumes, financial ability, workforce, and resources. Additional factors should include competition market share and business models. From these statistics, it should be easy to show employers that you know how to beat the competition..

6. What is the reason you got into sales in the first place?

Though commission may be a major part of a salesperson’s motivation, it should not necessarily be the basis for this answer. A good response to this question would be a good personal story or a real-world example to shows the reasons why the candidate chose sales as the appropriate career path. The salesperson needs to claim they have intrinsic personal values, such as patience, drive, and persistence, which make them more able to take on the position. Interviewees may also claim that they have a desire to make sure clients are satisfied with their services or products.

7. What would be your approach to researching prospects before a call?

In addition to knowing the basics about the prospect, the main prerequisite to building a great relationship with prospects is for the salesperson to legitimately connect with them on a personal level. This deeper connection helps to set the salesperson apart from the competition, which in turn helps to eventually close the deal. By researching prospects ahead of the pitch, the salesperson then has a better chance of finding an effective means to connect with them. In order to get better insight, the salesperson should visit the company website of the prospect to gain a better understanding of their needs. They could even find a bio page on a particular prospect. If a candidate for a job position takes the research even further and finds the Facebook or LinkedIn page for a potential client, this could speak volumes to the employer.

8. Which are the questions that would be appropriate to ask new prospects?

A number of successful salespeople put less of an emphasis on the actual pitch and more on asking the most important questions. This assists in further developing a relationship with the prospect while giving the salesperson additional information useful for building a solid pitch at the end of the discussion.

9. How much time should one spend nurturing the customer relationship as opposed to searching for new clients?

There are two models of sales roles, which are categorized as ‘hunters’ and ‘farmers’. It is crucial for the candidate to determine which type of salesperson they want to be before the interview happens. A farmer is a salesperson who nurtures the relationships between themselves and existing clients, while the hunter is the one who searches for new opportunities. Placing the salesperson in the role they do not fit translates to failure. If you are looking to fill a role where the responsibilities center on new acquisitions or searching for new targets all the time, you ought to be a hunter. If the open position requires lead and client nurturing as well as the maintenance of existing relationships then you might be better off working as a farmer salesperson.

10. What do you feel would be the best way to address the issue of pricing with a prospect?

Following a sales process is important, and the response of the candidate to this question will illustrate whether they plan to follow that process. Ideally, a salesperson should be able to demonstrate the value of the product before mentioning the price at all.

11. How does one acquire leads?

If the company requires cold calls or even emails, then the candidate that responds by claiming they have only ever worked with warm leads might not be the right fit. The candidate should be able to formulate their answer in a way that fits with the company’s model for new client acquisition. Candidates should explain how they will attain new clients through market searches and comparison with the competition.

12. How are you going to go above and beyond within this position?

This question does not have a wrong answer per se, unless the answer is the candidate is only going to do what is specifically asked of them. The ideal candidate is an individual that would be willing to put their effort and time to go beyond the minimal amount of expectations so that they can deliver significant value to both their company and their customers.

13. How are you going to deal with rejection?

This query is asked to explain how a salesperson would manage tough scenarios. A sales employee must maintain patience and dignity within their work environment. In the sales field, rejections are often nearly as common as successes. How a salesperson handles this delicate situation of rejection is important for reasons far greater than any single client. Negative behavior in the face of rejection can spoil the reputation of a worker and their employer, tarnishing future chances at new relationships.

14. Are you comfortable with cold calls?

When a person starts to work within the sales field, it quickly becomes obvious that a successful salesperson must be comfortable with several different methods of gaining clientele. The interviewer is likely to then ask some more specific questions about cold calling, as some the candidates might not yet have a firm grasp on the process. A candidate for a sales position would gain major points if they were able to quickly dispatch the interviewer’s concerns with deep knowledge of this process..

15. How do you approach a short sales cycle versus a long one?

The candidate needs to recognize that these two sales cycles are fundamentally different from one another. The most important quality for someone in a short sales cycle is the ability to close quickly, while a longer sales cycle requires a lengthy and highly strategic approach to close the sale.

16. How does one incorporate content and social media into the sales strategy?

The ability to create relevant and engaging content and have an active presence on social channels is integral to success in most modern sales environments. Even if they have no experience, a successful candidate should be willing and happy to experiment and try new things in the social media sphere.

17. What is more important: meeting the sales targets or making the customers happy?

Both of these things are important and interviewees might be inclined to place more importance on sales volume than on the satisfaction of the customer. In general, however, the most effective sales representatives are those who care more about meeting the needs of the customers rather than just meeting the bottom line. When the customers are happy, sales volume will come naturally.

18. Are you comfortable with targets?

A sales job comes naturally packaged with various target scenarios. There are people who enjoy working in an environment where targets of various kinds are a significant driving force. A successful candidate should relay to their interviewer that they are more than willing to meet targets, but that they will continue to exceed expectations and refuse to simply meet the target and give up.

19. What would be the task or target in the first month if you are hired for the position?

This is a common question for many interviewers to ask. The answer of the interviewee for this question helps to demonstrate the extent to which they are able to work in a plan and goal-oriented workplace, which is common in the sales world. A successful candidate should answer by explaining a concrete plan or goal that they would be able to achieve in their first month.

20. When would be the best time to stop pursuing a client?

A salesperson needs to understand their limits and respect the image of the company for which they work. Specifically, it is important that an effective salesperson knows when to quit pursuing a sale in order to maintain the relationship with their client. Continuing to pursue a sale past a clear and definitive “no” could harm the reputation of both the salesperson and their company.

21. How should a salesperson react when a deal falls through?

A successful candidate should respond to this question by explaining how they would remain graceful in the face of adversity-- particularly where a sale is concerned. When a sale falls through, a successful salesperson should be able to act with grace and dignity, quickly bouncing back after the minor setback and continuing to do good work.

22. Have you ever has a losing streak? How were you able to turn things around?

Everyone has a bad spell, but a truly good salesman should be able to pick themselves up and push forward back into profitability. A sufficient answer for this question likely comes in the form of an anecdote or personal story of a time when failure was common but the resilience of the salesperson allowed them to return to a winning streak once again.

23. Have you ever asked a prospect that did not go through with the deal to explain the reason why the deal was lost?

A successful answer should detail not only what the prospect said was the issue, but also what the salesperson learned from the experience? Following up on both successful and unsuccessful deals in order to learn how to do better next time increases the odds of consistent future success. The effective salesperson takes the time to learn from both their failures and successes.

24. What is the best way to exceed expectations within the role of a salesperson?

The best way to exceed expectations would likely be to consistently employ your skills in a way that benefits the business as a whole-- not just you. This question is less about getting a certain answer, but more about seeing if the candidate can think above and beyond their particular job duties, and successful answers should highlight this skill.

25. What are the traits of a strong salesperson?

The best answers to this common question involves the use of research and a deep understanding of the sales industry. Research shows that for long-term sales success, a salesperson should have drive, an all-encompassing trait which includes elements of optimism, competitiveness, and a deep desire for achievement.

26. What are the best tactics for establishing a relationship with a potential client?

A sales candidate who relies on email and the occasional voice message is lazy and will likely not succeed at retaining that client for a significant period of time. The best answer to this question highlights the applicant’s ability to research and spend the necessary time building a relationship with the client, both over the phone and in-person.

27. What does the salesperson need to say in order to close a sale in most cases?

The ideal response to this question highlights that the applicant would not place pressure on the prospect, and would steer clear of manipulating them. The closing pitch of the salesperson needs to be both natural and confident.

28. How should a commission plan be structured?

While some firms have commission plans with high commission and low pay, others do the opposite. There is also profit sharing, volume pay, territory and several other options. The correct answer to this particular query should not tell the prospective employer what they should do, but should instead demonstrate that the beliefs of the candidate align with those of the company, particularly where profit-sharing processes are concerned. This is an opportunity for you the potential employee to show that you understand winning scenarios and turn into potential commission structures. That performance is tied to broader business objectives and that you are ready for the challenge to be overcome and win commissions. Most of employers seek partners who can assist them to grow the company, rather than sales mercenaries that hit their targets at any cost. It is frustrating for interviewers to hear potential candidates talk about commission without considering the larger objectives of the company and the employer-employee relationship.

29. How do you organize your day?

The correct answer may sound a bit boring, but that ought to be the objective. Sales jobs come with a lot of excitement, but there should be a day-to-day grind underscoring the work. Basically, it takes endurance and often-boring organizational skills to get to the thrilling moments. The interviewers asking this question want to know that a candidate is willing to put in the hard and grueling work.

30. What would you do in order to consistently improve your sales skills?

An affirmative answer to this question would be a sure sign that the candidate cares about their future enough to continue a learning process throughout their career. The ideal candidate will explain that they are excited to learn some of the new sales skills offered by the interviewing employer and have strive consistently for new knowledge. The ideal salesperson invests in themselves and their long-term education. They will enroll in both practical and theoretical courses and practice effective learning exercises to better and improve the skills and personal assets needed to succeed in their sales position.

31. What would you plan to accomplish in the first 30 days of working in this organization?

This will allow the potential employer to understand some of the goals of the candidate and their strategy for achieving these goals. The ideal candidate would be able to explain what they plan to accomplish and the steps they will take to make these goals the reality. This plan does not necessarily need to have a lot of detail, but is should absolutely present the candidate as a self-starter motivated by a continual march towards success.

32. What are your top three values in the workplace?

Drive is one of the best traits to advertise to potential employers as a sales candidate; it presents the interviewee as being both capable and disciplined enough to take on the position. It also implies that the candidate does not require constant supervision in the workplace to succeed. Another value to consider outlining would be an outgoing and cooperative personality. These traits show that a candidate can work on a team and is more than willing to speak to new potential clients. Several times in sales and at the office, workers need to use teamwork skills on a project in order to adequately succeed in a particular market. The ability to collaborate and bring out the best in team members allows the team to excel and get better returns, which is great for the enterprise as a whole.

33. What is your take on collaboration when it comes to a sales team?

Collaboration is sometimes underemphasized by both employees and companies in the sales industry. A good response to this question should highlight how a model of positive collaboration helps to breed more pleasant co-workers and a more efficient work environment.

34. Who are the clients that you are most comfortable selling to? Why do you think this is the case?

The candidate should give clear and vivid description of their idea buyer through based on demographics and common sales metrics.. For example, an interviewee for a job selling cars might be most interested in selling to people between the ages of 17 to 25 interested in buying old or lower-level product offerings as their first cars. Or perhaps this car salesman would prefer clients in their late 30s that would go for the more expensive SUVs, sports cars, or jeeps. The candidate should give a very specific description of the client using details integral to the sales process, such as where the customer works, their gender, or other habits. These details will show the employer that the candidate knows what they are talking about can visualize their ideal client.

35. Describe the ideal sales manager.

The sales manager is the person who is responsible for leading the sales representatives within the organization. They are typically inspirational individuals who know how to lead personnel so that they achieve the best version of themselves. They also set reasonable sales quotas and build on sales plans, working to mentor the members of the team where necessary so they can achieve their maximum potential.

36. How do you get referrals after a sale?

Candidates that rely a too heavily on referrals may be a cause for concern. This may show that they are not comfortable with prospecting for new leads by themselves. Through pushing their present customers hard for additional referrals following a successful deal, the candidate may also negatively affect their relationships with clients, which have taken long to develop. The best way to go about obtaining referrals following a sale is to first build relationships with the customer so they know that the salesman is not exclusively interested in their money.Successful salesman should show both care and concern to their personal issues as well, but should keep the relationship professional. After a good relationship is established, then it might be appropriate to ask for referrals. .

37. What should you say on a cold call?

As opposed to general answers like, “you should to talk about the products or services of the company,” the best responses should characterize the cold call as a sort of role play. It needs to be as natural an interaction as possible and not scripted so that the potential customer feels personally interested in the conversation.

38. If there was a magic wand that could improve three things about your previous job, what should these things be?

This question does not have a specific right or wrong answer, though the response to the magic wand query gives employers a clear insight into the personal and business-oriented convictions of the potential employee. Considering the best predictor of the future behavior is often previous behavior, it is important for applicants to show that they know what a truly efficient and healthy work environment looks like. This question can also provide insight to the previous work history of the candidate and can be an opportunity for the candidate to show off their interpersonal skills.

39. What role does content play when it comes to the sales process?

It is not necessarily a deal breaker if the salesperson does not actively share and engage with content on their social media accounts, but some employers might be interested in employees with a significant social media presence.

40. What are the three adjectives that a former client would use to describe you as a sales personnel?

The salesperson should list only positive adjectives, particularly those concerning drive, persistence, and helpfulness. Employers want salespeople who clients perceive as being helpful, patient, and informative.

41. What is your superpower?

Everyone has something they excel in, even if their skill isn’t literally superhuman. A good candidate could outline that they are very good at getting new clients, building relationships with existing ones, or working with team members. There are different aspects to the sales relationship, and being especially adept at one of these areas is a major asset for a salesperson. The manner in which the candidate responds will illustrate the various strengths of the applicant, which can be a major best selling point.

42. What are the places you might need coaching on?

• The main benefit of this question is that it demonstrates that the candidate is self-aware and knows the areas where they might need employment. An interviewee can give an example of any of their weaknesses to the employers, provided that the weakness is not too damaging. • The answer needs to be something that can be easily fixed or coached. • This also provides a starting point so that, once the candidate begins working with the company, the employer can establish a few personalized goals and expectations to ensure improvement.

43. Why would you want to work for us?

If the candidate struggles to come up with a solid answer for this one, the chances are they are more interested in getting any job, rather than this specific one. The candidate should work on a response which indicates they would want to work exclusively for this company.

44. How do you define success?

The question is aimed at depicting the mindset of the candidate. The answer should show how that the candidate understands the different components that go into a successful venture in the sales industry. Answers should include aspects of both individual and larger, corporate success.

45. How do you plan to improve in departments where you are not very experienced?

Candidates should state some of the skills that they might already have before explaining the ways these assets can help them in learning or adapting the new skills. This is a valid question as candidates for a sales position need to be knowledgeable when it comes to the products being sold.

46. How flexible are you when it comes to working hours?

Retailing might require workers to be available during an odd hours, including late during the night. While lying is never a good decision, if possible it is best for candidates to explain that they have wide availability.

47. What are your salary expectations for the job?

Instead of giving a straight figure, potential salespeople need to give an answer that sounds like you have been thinking about it, as well as an answer that is realistic given current industry standards.

48. Have you had issues with previous bosses?

Most people would be lying if they said that they have never had an issue with a previous employer. The best answers to this question state some understandable scenarios where the interviewee may have been irritated by a previous boss, but the candidate should try to limit examples to those where the boss had seriously done something to negatively impact their performance. It is also good to end this response on a lighter note through mentioning some of the positive influences that the same boss had on their career.

49. What is the most interesting part of the retailing sector?

This question tests how well the candidate enjoys their career. Interviewees might also state how satisfying it is to have their suggestions heard by receptive bosses, or how nice it is to work with great customers and clients.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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