10 questions to ask at your next interview for a job in sales

So it’s going well and you’re happily chatting away with arms fully uncrossed about why you’re the perfect candidate for the position in question. The interviewer then pauses and asks whether you have any questions of your own, to which you say “when can I start?” and smile back willingly. Most people take this approach […]

So it’s going well and you’re happily chatting away with arms fully uncrossed about why you’re the perfect candidate for the position in question. The interviewer then pauses and asks whether you have any questions of your own, to which you say “when can I start?” and smile back willingly.

Most people take this approach as they’re understandably keen to impress, but don’t forget that the new role needs to work for you too. So before you leave the room, make sure that you’ve asked at least two or three of these.

What are your expectations over the first 6 months?

Decent companies will give you a certain amount of breathing space before you’re expected to earn your keep. If your salary is comprised of base plus commission then, ideally, the base will be higher in the first couple of months to allow you to find your feet.

There should also be a period of well-structured training, which will depend on the complexity of the products you’re selling. If you discover that you’ll just be thrown in at the deep end, then maybe have a think about whether it’s the right role for you.

How would you describe your top performers?

It’s useful to find out a little more about the kind of people you’ll be working alongside. Various studies have discovered that most of us rank the quality of our relationships at work above the size of our salaries.

According to a report by Gallop, 70% of us say that having friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life. 74% of females would even turn down a higher paid job if it meant not getting along with co-workers.

How do you reward your top performers?

There are several different ways of showing appreciation in the workplace, from a decent bonus or pay rise, through to a simple thank you. Have a think about the type of reward that genuinely keeps you motivated and be totally honest with yourself about whether you’ll get that from your new employer.

How are you different from [your main competitor]?

Take a bit of time to research your employer’s competitors and find out exactly how they differ. One of the most enlightening things to learn is whether you’re about to join a company which is extremely cost-driven. If you are, then it might result in a high-pressure environment with the wrong incentives. Alternatively, the interviewer could explain a whole new positive angle to the company that you hadn’t previously considered.

How do I advance my career here?

You’ll sound keen by asking this, which is never a bad thing, but also it’s good to know whether it’s even possible to climb the ranks. Usually, you’ll find that there’s a sales manager and maybe an assistant, but it’s hard to reach the boardroom. Maybe also ask whether senior appointments tend to be made from within, or brought in from outside.

Can I sit in on a sales call?

Most interviewees are usually thinking about getting to the end of the interview safely and heading home, so if you get the chance to stick around, you should do so. Listening into a salesperson on an actual call will teach you so much about the overall mentality of the company. Are they pushy? Is there a script? Are they actually trying to understand a prospect’s pain points?

What kind of management style do you adopt?

This one may have your future boss squirming a little bit, but it’s a totally legitimate question. If they seem to want to move on, then perhaps they’ve revealed that they’re tricky to work with. A good leader will feel comfortable to discuss their style and this should help you to paint a picture of what to expect.

What can I learn from you?

You need to get on with your immediate manager as you’ll be working under their supervision. If they explain that they’ll teach you all of the backhanded sales techniques from yesteryear, then think wisely about your next step. Hopefully, they’ll sound open, knowledgeable and keen to impart their wisdom.

Is the company growing or has someone left?

Clearly there’s a reason why you’re there in the first place, so find out exactly what that is. All companies have a turnover of staff and it’s not always a bad thing, but it’s helpful to know if the vacancy was due to several people leaving. On the other hand, if it’s due to rapid expansion, then find out how you can get even more involved as it could be a time of great opportunity.

Can we connect on LinkedIn?

If you’re not already connected, then this is the perfect time to ask. Not only does it demonstrate that you’re open to someone having a nosey at your past employers, but also it gives you a way of staying in touch even if you don’t make the grade this time around.

So before just shaking your head and saying “when can I start?”, take a bit of time to discover a little more about the next entry on your CV. Not only does it help you to land that perfect job, but it’s sure to impress your future employer.

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