Tuesday, January 18, 2011

For someone like me, who becomes recently a manger, it was very difficult to make an interview to choose not
a sales person, but a sales leader. This is because my experience is focused mainly on the technical aspects of my work. Also, I do not want just to market a product as much as I want to market my software team and their work, I mean the value that we can create for our customers. But as I believe there this nothing impossible, I spent 2-days searching and reading to come up with a good plan for how to conduct a successful sales interview.

Although the sales role varies from employer to employer, but the knowledge and core competencies (skills and abilities) required for success in all sales jobs are almost the same.

Knowledge Requirements
Flair Systems - Sales Interview

Typical knowledge requirements for a sales job include:

  • Sales and marketing:
    • Principles.
    • Techniques.
    • Strategy.
    • Tactics
  • Sales control systems.
  • Computer and software applications.
  • Administration processes
  • Basic business principles.

The essential sales job competencies:

The following are the core competencies that you have to ensure that they exist in your sales candidate. You will find for each competence why it is important, the question you will ask to deduce from its answer the skills level of the applicant, and the question guidelines that help you make sure of his skill.

Flair Systems - Sales Interview

Why Adaptability?

Sales jobs involve dealing with a wide range of people; the ability to adjust the approach used to the situation is an important job requirement.


  1. "Tell me about a situation where your contact person changed at a key account, how did you adjust to the new contact?"
  2. "Give an example of when you had to change your approach to a prospect because the initial one failed."

Question Guidelines:

The answer should show you how he maintains his performance and effectiveness in different situations with different people, and how he is able to adjust his approach to match different demands and challenges.

Why Resilience?

Key to continued success in sales is the ability to handle disappointment and rejection.


  1. "Tell me about a time you worked hard for a sale but didn't get it in the end, how did you handle the situation?"
  2. "Give an example of when you had to overcome strong resistance from a customer."

Question Guidelines:

You should have a description on how he has maintained enthusiasm and performance after disappointment, and how he is able to take negativity in his stride and bounce back quickly. Ask him to give examples in his answer for persistence and determination in finding solutions to obstacles or challenges.

Why Persuasiveness?

Sales interview questions will focus on the sales person ability to persuade and influence others to accept his product or service.


  1. "Describe a recent approach you took with a brand new prospect."
  2. "Tell me how you developed your largest account."

Question Guidelines:

The answer has to describe how he determines customer needs and selects the most suitable approach to demonstrate, how his product or service meets those needs, deciding on the right interpersonal and communication style, and how he is able to anticipate and overcome objections, and gain commitment from the customer.

Why Motivation?

Strong senses of purpose together with the ability to maintain a high energy level are important contributors to sales success.

  1. Questions?
  2. "Tell me about one of the most time-consuming sales you have made."
  3. "What goals have you set for yourself this year, how have you ensured progress towards them?"

Question Guidelines:

He has to show you how he sets for himself challenging goals and puts in high levels of effort and commitment to achieve results.

Why Negotiation?

A core sales competency is the ability to reach agreement through successful negotiation.


  1. "Describe a recent situation where you negotiated terms with a tough customer."
  2. "Tell me about an important negotiation that failed, what went wrong and why?"

Question Guidelines:

The answer has to describe his ability to explore the needs and concerns of the customer, to determine areas of agreement and disagreement, to work out alternatives and solutions to reach a workable agreement for both parties.

Presentation Skills

Sales involve presenting information effectively and convincingly to potential customers.


  1. "Tell me about successful formal presentation you made recently."
  2. "Give me an example of when you had to make a presentation to an unresponsive audience, how did you handle it?"

Question Guidelines :

The answer should describe in detail his research and preparation of material for a target audience, how he establishes the importance of the presentation to the audience, his ability to organize the content in a logical way, and how he reads an audience's mood and interacts effectively with them.

These are the main keys upon which you can evaluate the candidate skills in sales. I wish you find them beneficial and interesting like me.


Eng. Waleed Mohamed
Flair Systems