During sales interviews, interviewers often ask questions to determine your ability to work within a competitive, sales-focused environment. Understanding and preparing for these questions can help you feel more comfortable during the conversation. Your answers should showcase the qualifications and skills you can bring to an organisation's sales team. In this article, we list 30 of the most common interview questions for sales positions and include 10 sample answers for reference.
20 common sales interview questions
During interviews for sales positions, your interviewer asks various questions to assess your qualifications for the role. You can perform research to ensure you understand the job and its requirements. While answers may vary depending on the question, always try to combine your relevant experience with the job's expectations. Here are 20 common questions you might encounter during your upcoming sales interview:
- What motivates you to pursue a career in sales?
- What do you like most about sales? What do you struggle with most?
- How do you stay updated with the latest trends and innovations in the sales field?
- What strategies do you use to establish long-term relationships with potential leads?
- In your opinion, how important is learning for a sales professional?
- Tell me about your most significant sales achievement.
- How do you handle criticism from your team lead or manager?
- What would you do if your team opposes a new sales presentation you created?
- Name two qualities required to become a good sales professional.
- If I am a buyer, what would be your cold calling outreach strategy?
- What steps do you take to research potential leads before a sales call?
- Describe your sales process.
- Describe how you incorporate social media into your sales process.
- Describe a time when you motivated a colleague who was consistently not meeting their sales quota.
- How to handle customer's requirements?
- Describe your approaches for short and long sales cycles.
- How do you establish trust with your sales team?
- What is more important to you: closing a deal or ensuring strong visibility of your company's product?
- Have you ever changed your sales approach to meet a customer's requirement? What motivated you to make the change, and what was the result?
- Have you experienced a sales slump? How did you overcome it?
10 sales interview questions with example answers
Using the STAR method to answer questions can help you provide more detailed responses about your skills and qualifications. Here are some interview questions with example answers:
1. Why do you wish to work in our sales department?
Interviewers want to understand whether you are passionate about this profession and understand its responsibilities. When answering this question, explain your motivations for seeking this role and the skills you hope to bring to their sales team.
Example: "I want to work in your sales department because I am passionate about providing superior customer service. I feel motivated by the challenge of selling new products or services to customers. Creating a sales pitch, connecting with new clients and negotiating sales deals is a satisfying process that always excites me."
2. Please describe your sales experience.
Interviewers ask this question to assess your sales background and gain insights into your skills and knowledge. Provide an answer that aligns with the requirements or expectations outlined in the employer's job description.
Example: “I have worked for Delight International for seven years and currently handle 30 customer accounts. My effective interpersonal and communication skills have helped me build an excellent rapport with my customers, as evidenced by my 95% satisfaction rate. I also won the Salesperson of the Year award for the past two years because I exceeded my sales quota consistently.”
3. When would you stop working for a potential client?
Though a salesperson generates business, not all potential leads turn into paying customers. This question helps an interviewer understand how comfortable you feel about deflecting potential leads. Your answer should reflect your ability to maintain respect and professionalism during difficult situations.
Example: “I recognise that not every lead becomes a client. Last year, I was speaking to a promising lead. But after two rounds of discussion, I realised their budget was not large enough to accommodate our services. Knowing the monetary constraints, I had to accept that continuing discussions would not benefit either party. I informed them that our services did not align with their budget and suggested alternate options.”
4. What makes you a good salesperson?
Interviewers may ask this question to determine whether you understand the role's expectations. When possible, define your skills by incorporating specific examples of how you used them to create positive results.
Example: “In my current position, I make 40 cold calls daily, and for the past five months, I successfully closed one deal per week. I credit my active listening skills, passion for problem-solving and empathetic behaviour for my success."
5. How do you handle an unhappy customer?
You might encounter dissatisfied customers as a salesperson, and interviewers want to understand how you address and resolve these situations. Your answer should reflect your ability to stay calm under pressure and show your problem-solving and communication skills.
Example: “I once had a long-term customer sent a message stating that our product had not met quality standards for three weeks in a row. I scheduled time to speak with them over the phone to address the issue personally and more thoroughly. Before the call, I verified our contract agreement with them and spoke to our manufacturing department.
After letting them express their concerns uninterrupted, I apologised for the inferior product quality. I explained we recently discovered a lapse in the manufacturing process that we were now repairing. I also worked with my manager to offer them a discount on subsequent purchases.”
6. How do you handle sales rejection?
Because salespeople commonly face rejection, interviewers want to understand your resilience in such situations. When possible, provide a specific example of when you encountered rejection and how you handled this situation or learned from it.
Example: "In my previous job, I spent four weeks working with a potential client, explaining our services, giving sales pitches and developing a contract. Days before signing the contract, his company signed a contract with our competitor. Despite my disappointment, I thanked him for his time and consideration. When I asked for the reason, he said that, based on my sales presentation, our services did not meet their requirements. I now focus on creating presentations that identify customers' specific concerns and outline how our services address them."
7. Tell me about a time when you failed at work.
While interviews know failures can occur at work, they want to ensure that you can discuss your weaknesses and learn from them to improve your skills. Provide a specific example of a situation when you learned from your mistakes, and include the steps you took to prevent yourself from making them again.
Example: "When I started working at an engineering design tool company, I knew basic information about design tools. However, I lacked in-depth knowledge of different engineering design tools, their importance and how they solve manufacturing issues. I ended up missing my sales quota because I felt too embarrassed to seek help and clarification. To avoid this issue happening again, I enrolled in online classes and started reading articles about the industry's latest innovations and trends. By the end of the following month, I exceeded my quota by ₹20,000."
8. As a salesperson, what is your greatest strength?
Employers ask such questions to explore your area of expertise within the sales environment. Describe your strengths in the context of your previous sales experience.
Example: "My greatest strength is staying calm in stressful situations. In my previous job, a dissatisfied customer planned to complain about our business publicly. I spoke to them one-on-one to understand their concerns and discuss a fair resolution. After apologising for the inconvenience, I offered an amount of free service as compensation."
9. Describe the most significant sales deal you closed.
Interviewers ask this question to gain insights into your sales experience and your ability to manage large-scale negotiations. Choose an example from a prior role and describe the relevant skills or knowledge that enabled your success.
Example: "This year, I worked on a deal with a technology company that was sceptical about using our services initially. To convince them, I provided industry statistics that showed how our tool could help their team improve efficiency and customer satisfaction rates. I also showed them testimonials from previous clients and offered a 15-day free subscription for their team, allowing them to try the product without risk. Since closing the deal, they have consistently expressed satisfaction with our services."
10. How do you build trust with potential sales leads?
Building rapport and trust with customers is an essential component of procuring consistent sales. Discuss the specific steps you take or skills you use to create positive interactions with your lead, providing examples of the results when possible.
Example: "I am always honest and open when meeting with potential leads. I start by listening to their needs patiently. Once I assess their requirements, I identify potential solutions that my company can provide. I find that being honest about the organisation's limitations creates trust because it shows I want to address their needs rather than just close the deal."