Six tactics to help you nail that sales job

By Heather Foley

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Getting your dream sales job may be the toughest interview in the world. After all, you’re often competing with people who know exactly how to sell themselves.  So, how do you make sure you stand head and shoulders above the formidable competition? There are six key areas to consider.

1.  Research the company

A great sales person finds out as much as possible about the customer.  Applying for a job is no different. Your future employer is, in effect, your customer. So, find out as much as you can about the company you are applying to. Read their financial reports, become intimately familiar with their website and the messages it delivers. Find out who the leaders are and research their background (Linkedin and Google are great tools).

Check Google and the press for recent information and developments in the company. A really smart move is to call people in their sales and marketing teams, tell them you’re applying for a job there and that you would love to pick their brains over coffee on what it’s like to work there.

2.  Research products and services

As part of your research, ensure you have a great understanding of the services and products the company offers. What are all of the options? Who are the products and services aimed at? How are they priced? What are the USPs? How are they rated in the market? The more you know about the products and services, the better you will answer the interview questions and the more you’ll impress your potential new employers.

3.  Research competition

Find out everything you can about the competitors, their products and services, their target markets and their USPs. If you can get a sense of why the company you’re applying to is better than the competition, and can articulate knowledgeably, you will impress the interviewers.

4.  Show history of beating targets

Hiring sales people is always a risk. The best way to present yourself as a great and safe choice is to show a track record of beating targets. Be ready to rattle off what your specific targets have been for the last five years and what your actual sales have been. You’ll also benefit from being ready to share a few stories of some particularly impressive sales.  Let the interviewer know that you have, and will continue to have, a winning approach to beating all targets.

5.  Show enthusiasm and resilience

Everyone knows that in sales you don’t win every deal. Your prospective new boss needs to believe, though, that you have the enthusiasm and resilience to pick yourself back up after any knock-backs. Prepare some examples of where you have demonstrated this attitude and fortitude in previous roles. It’ll show you are realistic and robust.

6.  Prepare questions

Finally, make sure you’ve prepared the questions that will demonstrate your expertise as a sales person. What’s most important to the company when evaluating a potential new sales person? Can they describe the ideal sales person to you? How many people beat their sales targets? What are the future plans for growth in the company? Are there new products or services on the horizon? All of these questions will show them how good you are at ‘qualifying’ a prospect and also your enthusiasm and commercial acumen.

Getting that great sales job isn’t easy.  But tactics and preparation will help you stand head and shoulders above the competition.  And if you put in enough effort, you’ll eventually find success, because, in the words of Marvin Phillips, “the difference between try and triumph is just a little umph!”  Enjoy that interview!

Heather Foley is a consultant at HR consultancy,


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