You may have faced many sales interviews till date, which means that you understand fully that sales related interview questions can be tough. However, if you’re new to sales and marketing interview questions, then do not take them lightly because if you do not know how to tackle them or respond to the sales interviewer, then chances are that you will not be selected.
Regardless of your work experience or knowledge in the sales domain, you should realize that at the exact moment when you come face-to-face with a sales recruiters responding to their interview questions for sales, you're not simply parading your skills and sales knowledge, you're selling yourself and everything you bring to the table.
The fundamental idea behind sales in India is communicating with the client to understand their needs (or problems) and suggesting a service (or product) as the solution which they must purchase. Now, in your case, which is appearing for sales interviews in India, the client would be the recruiter who has the problem of finding a capable sales professional in India. And you, the sales professional, would ideally like to be the solution.
What does this mean? Well, if you want to be the optimal solution then you first need to ace the sales interview by already knowing about the kind of interview questions for sales jobs that will be asked by the recruiter, but more importantly, how to correctly respond to them.
Candidates who are handpicked to appear for assessment rounds that involve answering sales job interview questions are essentially equipped and prepared to excel in the following three phases of a typical sales interview in India: throwing the spotlight on their excellent qualifications, leveraging the sames qualifications and skills to sell themselves to the recruiter, and finally, negotiating the finer details of the job role to ultimately get hired.
Every one of the aforementioned phases is an integral part of finding the right sales job in India. Needless to say, you’ll need to work on a strategy and prepare yourself with regard to sales interview questions and answers for freshers and experienced. It’s quintessential to start with correctly identifying all the characteristics that are common to a sales job interview in India.
As opposed to interviews for other job roles where a bit of what you are being recruited for can be featured in a resume through bulleted lists of your specialized abilities and skills, interviews for sales roles require candidates to unmistakably exhibit their skills and business abilities through personal anecdotes and substantial examples from past work history, including how the same set of skills and abilities can be leveraged in future circumstances.
Sales candidates must be mindful of the fact that while appearing for sales interviews in India, they have to be prepared not only for traditional sales questions, but also for situational and behavioural enquiries too.
Here’s a quick summary of the tips that you should keep in mind much before you meet face-to-face with the sales interviewer.
1) Provide clear and specific examples
If possible, when answering sales and marketing interview questions, always try to support your answer with an example. For example, for sales interview questions asked by the interviewer that are focused on the important qualities that a sales professional in India must have, try your best to talk about an individual quality that you have that helped close the sales deal.
2) Honesty can be rewarding
From the get-go, regardless of the sales related interview questions being asked, try to establish a rapport with the questioner(interviewer) as soon as possible. This can only happen if you are honest from the very beginning.
You shouldn’t say something that isn’t based on facts, because if you do and the interviewer notices that you’re bluffing, it will make you look bad..
3) Back to sales basics
Sales, if you must know, is a practical field so it’s only natural to come across new technical terms or forget old ones. Therefore, before answering interview questions for sales jobs on d-day, brush up on sales-specific terms, including sales trends that are relevant for the specific industry you want to get into.
4) Go over your answers
If you haven’t realised it already, sales is a domain that has a lot to do with excellent communication and just the right amount of confidence.
As the candidate, you have to have an idea of the interview questions for sales that will be asked, and then practise the answers for the same. You can stand in front of a mirror and interview yourself or seek help from a family member, a peer, or someone with a sales background which would be ideal.
5) Never say more than what’s needed
Although the first tip on this list mentions providing examples in each of your answers for sales job interview questions, you should know when to draw the line. In an effort to impress the interviewer, you shouldn’t let slip important details about the clients or sales deals from the past.
You should try to focus more on your skills, abilities, lessons learnt, and plan of action that helped your or the sales team expertly navigate and seal a difficult sales deal. Above all, be discreet when peppering your answers with personal anecdotes.
The idea behind getting to know sales interview questions and answers for freshers and experienced is to encourage you to think about the ways to answer sales-specific questions that will be directed at you by the interviewer.
By anticipating the questions and having a response in place will ultimately prevent you from providing answers that aren’t remotely related to the question asked, or worse, ending up saying nothing at all.
Let’s take a look at 9 of the common sales interview questions and answers below so that you’re prepared for your next interview. Keep in mind that for most of the questions mentioned hereafter, there aren’t any right answers, only the right approach to answer them, which hopefully can leave the interviewer impressed.
Question #1: Why did you apply for this sales position?
Question #2: Which was your most successful sales deal ever?
Question #3: Have you ever experienced failure as a sales professional? How did you tackle it and what was the key takeaway?
Question #4: How comfortable are you with making cold-calls?
Question #5: How do you generate and close sales deals?
Question #6: How do you ensure that you’re keeping up with the latest sales trends or target markets?
Question #7: How do you deal with customer rejection and failure?
Question #8: According to you, what is the best sales strategy?
Question #9: Excellent customer service or a quality product(service): which of the two do you think is more important for sales?
This is one of the most-asked sales executive interview questions. That said, it could easily be a part of sales manager interview questions and sales officer interview questions asked by the recruiter. To tackle such a question, you have to be thorough with the job description.
You should frame your answer based on the research you conducted on the company, its operations, and the sales role. Your ideal answer should be prepped and memorised before you turn up for the interview.
Sample Answer: I envision myself as a future [Enter a senior sales role e.g. sales officer/manager] supervising all facets of the organization’s sales (team) department. I honestly believe that my aptitude to find solutions to complex sales problems and my communication skills can give rise to a productive culture of hard-working, self-motivated and successful sales professionals. In my honest opinion, this role provides me with the avenues to enhance my technical abilities and build my leadership skills, which are major parts of my career goals and aspirations.
At the time when the interviewer asks this question, they need to know whether it was just food fortune that helped you achieve critical accomplishment in your sales role, or on the off chance that you have the right skills and knowledge to close sales deals(leads).
This is your opportunity to make a significant impression. Don’t try to distance yourself from laying out intricate (sales-specific) details, such as the particular time, the problems that occurred, the involvement of colleagues or sales team members, and how you, in the end, settled the sales deal and what followed immediately after closing of the deal(lead).
It’s essential that whatever you say must mirror the best qualities and abilities of sales professionals in India.
Sample Answer: I was working in close proximity with my [Mention supervisor e.g. sales manager, sales head etc.] in an organization for a (service or product). The sale was nearing completion when he had to take an extended, unannounced, leave.
He was replaced by another sales professional who had a completely different personality, and viewpoint about going ahead with the sales deal. I took a step back, reevaluated my approach, and touched base with him in a manner he found comfortable.
The workaround did take extra time and effort, but I have to say that it was all worth it in the end. Not only did I manage to close the sales deal, but also ended up cultivating two new business relationships.
As a sales professional in India, or anywhere for that matter, you must be extremely comfortable about accepting disappointments head-on. Not only that, you must quickly learn from your mistakes, move on from the failure you just experienced, and use your learnings to ensure that the same failure doesn’t occur again in the future.
To respond to such sales job interview questions, mention a relatable encounter, clarifying what your goal was, what turned out badly, who was included, and what you gained from the episode. Keep in mind that you need to mention every detail of the failure you encountered because interviewers(as you already read in the passage above) really appreciate honesty.
While responding to the second part of the interview question, don’t forget to keep it simple and short. Let the interviewer know that you managed to completely understand important lessons from the setback which you hope to leverage to dodge similar occurrences in the future.
Sample Answer: I was collaborating with other members of the sales team, eagerly pursuing a high-profile client. But by focusing solely on the mission to close the sales deal and trying to be the one to do it, each one of us didn’t realize that we were getting in each other’s way.
Naturally, the client did not take the relentless pursuit and personal interests of every sales professional in the team lightly. He was cross about the fact that he’d been receiving multiple calls throughout the day from different team members from the same sales team. Needless to say, the same information was being relayed to the client from multiple sources without any signs of taking the deal forward.
That was the biggest mistake I(we) made. That incident led me to believe that communication between all sales professionals working in a team is mandatory. When team members clearly communicate, not only will the sales deal go ahead, but the client will also be rescued from being bombarded by the same information, from multiple sources, over and over again.
This isn’t only a frequently asked sales interview question, but also a must-have sales experience. In a career like sales, only those sales professionals in India are destined for success and career growth who are not just active, bold, eager, but also interested in starting and maintaining a conversation with a prospect.
That’s not to say that if you can’t make cold-calls, you cannot end up in sales. No! What it actually means is that sales professionals who are experts at cold-calling (which starts with prospecting and ends us as a successful sale) are usually more successful than those who aren’t.
As a sales professional in India, you should understand that at the point when sales recruiters pose sales interview questions such as this (about cold-calling), they are only attempting to uncover and understand your personality and character. Therefore, when you find yourself in a situation where the interviewer asks you this specific question about cold-calling or similar interview questions for sales jobs, answer by providing an example(s).
For instance, you could say that before you cold-call an individual, you research the individual completely in an effort to understand his requirements.
Sample Answer: Yes, I am completely familiar and comfortable with cold-calling. It’s my honest belief that the underlying problem with cold-calling is that the affair is entirely unpredictable. You may never know if the other person on the end of the line is having a bad day, a good communicator, or even remotely interested in the product(or service).
But cold-calling can be effective and its problems can be nullified (entirely or upto a certain degree). I think that a sales professional who wants to be successful at cold-calling has to be thorough with the prospect. Whether it’s an individual or a business I’m selling to, enough research about the prospect and their requirements has to be done.
In fact, I have made the most of the research-your-prospect-first-before-calling tactic to close sales deals and generate revenue in my previous organization. [Emphasize this point with an example].
When interviewers ask you this specific question, they want to probe the effectiveness and efficiency of the sales process that you will be a part of(or you’ll be handling). To give them what they want to hear, you’ll have to lay out the sales mechanism in a step-by-step manner.
Don’t be too hung up about the industry they employers belong to. And that is because a handful of core sales skills and qualities are always sought-after by employers, regardless of the industry. Some of these core sales skills include, excellent communication and listening skills, time management skills, strategic planning, analytical ability, leadership skills, critical thinking, interpersonal skills and so on.
When breaking down the sales process to demonstrate how you generate leads or close sales deals, make it a point to highlight your core sales skill that was utilized. You must also keep in mind certain soft skills such as the power to persuade, negotiation skills, and maintaining client-vendor relationships. These, along with the ones mentioned above, have a hand to play in determining the success experienced by a sales professional in India.
Sample Answer: I leveraged social media and LinkedIn Ads to identify a prospect who wanted a product or service that could help him end his business’ accountancy woes. The biggest problem, however, was that the client wasn't sure if he wanted to purchase our product. This happened because he’d bought a (buggy) product from a different vendor in the past which didn’t end his problems.
To ensure that the prospect turns into a successful sale, I spoke with the accountant executive on the telephone for several hours and also prepared a sales pitch which I presented via a video conference. Finally, the Accounting Manager got back to me at which point I unveiled our sales statistics which highlighted the fact that our product resulted in 30+ positive testimonials from clients that belonged to a variety of industries.
After redirecting the Accounting manager to our website, he personally could see the positive reviews from other clients. In fact, as per my request, he read a few testimonials out loud as well. While reading it he came across a positive customer review that mentioned (my name / our sales’ team).
As soon as he was done, I made it a point to tell him that he or anyone from his team could always personally reach out to me for any issues they encounter. By playing on the one-team-one-family tactic, and by showing that I (or anyone from our sales team) would personally go out of our way to address their issues, we were positioned to successfully close the sales deal.
Business organizations in India are always on the lookout for sales professionals who continually work on enhancing their abilities, and are extremely aware of the latest development in sales tactics, trends, and tools that can help them in providing top-notch service to the clientele.
If the interviewer asks you this question during the sales interview, let them know that you’re always enthusiastic about the latest developments and trends in sales, and even more passionate about quickly acquiring and harnessing sales-specific information.
Tell them that to keep sales(and your line of work) exciting, you refer to the most recent podcasts, courses, videos, and blogs and learn new ways to improve your craft. And if you do refer to such sources, be sure to name them out. Even if your source is an unheard podcast or an unread magazine, let the interviewer know why it’s a “hidden gem” of sorts and what you learned along the way.
As you already know, we live in times where reskilling and upskilling is critical to not just growth in career, but also in business. All employers want employees who have industry-specific skills that are relevant, not just in the present, but also in the future.
If you’re one of those self-motivated, information-hungry, career-oriented sales professional who has enrolled for sales courses in 2021 and beyond, do point them out. In fact, just talking about it improves your candidacy and portrays your image as a career-oriented individual who’s in it for the long haul.
Sample Answer: To keep up with the latest sales trends and growth markets in India, I like to refer to social media trends, blogs and podcasts by sales experts. To also stay relevant in my sales career and to pick up on new skills I sign up for training and courses on e-learning platforms like [Enter popular e-learning platforms and training modules].
By picking up on the latest developments in sales and industry-relevant trends, I get to know a variety of strategies that can be leveraged to identify and connect with the target markets.
As a professional in the sales industry, you have to, whether you like it or not, swallow the bitter pill of customer rejection and failure. The recruiter who will be assessing you as a sales rep will want to know that you completely understand this.
Before hiring you as a sales professional for the company, the recruiter needs to be absolutely certain about your ability to deal with failure and customer rejection realistically and appropriately. They, of course, will skip candidates who are oblivious to the on-the-job drawbacks of a sales profile and only go after those who know about the vast assortment of realistic challenges in sales that lie ahead.
But coming to terms with rejection and failure is just one of the many unsavoury moments that you, as a sales professional, must live with. What happens after you’re rejected or your sales process fails? What should your attitude be— should you learn your lessons and move on?
You see, the recruiter who will be asking you all the sales interview questions won’t only be focused on what your reaction will be after a rejection or failure. They want to know whether you picked up on the mistakes that occurred and whether you learnt important lessons (or you didn’t).
The best way to answer such interview questions for sales executives, managers, officers etc.? Just be plain, candid, and honest when responding. In fact, you should even be humble and empathetic. The reason why you should opt for this approach—even the recruiter knows that just about anyone can make mistakes and fail.
You need to realize from the get-go that both you and the recruiter fully understand this. But mostly, when answering, you need to clear your mind of the misconception that you will be judged because you failed or a customer rejected your approach. And you needn’t even hide the facts or portray yourself to be a sales professional who has never tasted failure, even if you have.
When answering such interview questions for sales jobs that revolve around failure and rejection, you can stick to the following approach.
- Mention your objectives and the underlying reasons for going after them. And while you’re at it, do not skip out on detailing the importance of reaching a certain outcome.
- Lay out the steps you undertook to achieve your objective(s).
- Spell out the end result and how you, as a sales professional, did not taste success when achieving the objectives that you’d set.
- Vividly illustrate the underlying reasons that led to customer rejection and/or failure.
- Throw a light on the approach you took to rectify the situation and move past the rejection and/or failure.
While you can take cues from the bulleted list above and frame your response accordingly, the basic principle behind answering such a question is not to drag the conversation on failure for far too long, and certainly not to over-dramatize it.
It’s crucial to focus on the lessons learnt and the steps taken to avert future failures and rejections. And that’s exactly what you should be telling the sales recruiter. Of course, there are certain things that you should avoid when answering such sales and marketing interview questions.
You do not want to recall instances which you thought were major failures, but weren’t in reality. For instance, a sales deal gone bad because of a sales team member not doing his job at the very end isn’t failure on your part. So, you see, do not pick answers (failures) that aren’t failures to begin with. But if you do, the recruiter will obviously think that you’re either trying to hide something or that you aren’t familiar with the concept of failure.
Going back to the example mentioned in the above paragraph of a colleague failing to do his/her job, you, as a professional, should not bring it up because it will seem like you’re blaming others. Don’t shift the blame on the customer, colleague(s), and supervisors (for not giving you ample time or opportunities). You should be taking responsibility for the failure even if you’re not the one to blame.
Sample Answer 1: I honestly believe that sales professionals should be considerate if they want to expertly handle customer rejections or failures. If circumstances arise where the risk of failure or rejection is high, a true sales professional must avoid dismissing the concerns brought up by the customer or talking more than required.
To maintain a clear and clean dialogue, every sales professional must think of rejections or failures as important feedback. In fact, a sales professional in India can take the point of objection and use it as an opportunity to provide an in-depth analysis of the product’s (service’s) benefits.
Sample Answer 2: Finding out that the sales deal did not go through at the last minute or the customer rejected the product or service can be extremely hard to take for any sales professional. But the key takeaway in such unfortunate situations is that the sales professional must never take the failure or customer rejection personally.
I cannot speak for other sales reps, but I personally try to understand why the rejection or failure occurred. Furthermore, I never dismiss customers’ complaints and reasoning because it will only enhance my sales techniques and provide much-needed feedback to improve the product or service.
Sales interview questions like this one here when asked should be thought of as an excellent opportunity to flaunt your knowledge and skills in sales yet again. Interviewers usually ask this question only to understand the sales professional in you.
They want to know, for example, information that is relevant to sales, such as the tried and tested methods of persuasion and knowing when you’re crossing ethical lines when pursuing a sales lead or a customer.
But to be more specific, the interviewer can ask this question only to find out if you fully understand the business organization's goals and values. When you answer this question, the recruiter will be able to ascertain if you can differentiate between the company's short and long-term goals, and if your own strategies can align with the organization's goals.
To answer such a sales interview question, you need to lay down the facts about the sales process, explaining briefly at every step, how it works, how a lead is generated, and how it is closed as a successful sale.
You can go ahead and start off with the specifics, building your answer around how you approached every stage of the sales process in the past, and what (skills) qualifies you as an expert sales professional with an undeniable pedigree to close the lead as a sale. Given below are some of the key specifics that you could include in your answer.
1) Preparation and Planning process
2) Customer targeting
3) Customer engagement
4) Discovering customer needs
5) Finding solutions for customers' problems
6) Solving any or all customer complaints
7) Negotiating the deal and successfully making a sale
While that was all about what you should be saying, let's focus on what you shouldn't when answering sales interview questions around sales strategies. First and foremost, when answering, try not to sound vague at all costs.
Instead of speaking at great lengths about your ex-employer's sales strategies, you could talk more about your behaviour as a sales professional by providing relevant examples. And while you're at it, do make it a point to portray how you made the most of theoretical sales strategies in the real world.
Interviews have done and seen it all, so it'll be extremely easy for them to sniff out the fact that you've basically mugged up sales strategy theories which you're regurgitating when answering their question. Bring the theories up by all means, but keep them real and tie them back to you with the help of real-world examples at all times.
Sample Answer: I make it a point to always start with the customer: how the service or product I'm selling will help them in the long or short-term, their requirements, their complaints and so on.
When I and my customer are engaged in a conversation, I'm all ears about their objections no matter how minute they are. At the same time, I counter their objections with positive arguments i.e. USPs of the service or product which will push them to buy or sign up.
At the end of the day, it's all about selling the product and holding on to the customer. Both cannot be accomplished unless I thoroughly understand the product or service. So, what I'm really trying to say is that as a sales professional, I never skip the all-important part of researching the service(product) and completely testing it before promoting and/or selling it to the customers.
Here's another classic head-scratcher from the interviewer's repository of sales and marketing interview questions. How will you answer it? Well, it's quite simple if you think about what the question wants to probe.
Basically, the recruiter wants to know how well you understand the company you're interviewing for and whether you're familiar with the sales industry. If you had to pick any of the two aforementioned intentions, it'd probably be the former about knowing the company, their goals, vision, but more importantly, their values.
Make no mistake; the focus when this question is asked may be all about the company, but it could easily be also about the interviewer wanting to know if you're well-versed in the essence of sales which includes finding the right balance and the integrity of making a sale.
To answer this question, the first and foremost thing you have to do is research the company and everything it embodies: culture, vision, values, goals etc. Also get to the bottom of how they prioritize the quality of the product(service) and customer service.
If you're picking any of the two(product or customer service), then you better have exceptional reasoning and examples to back your claim. The safe way of playing this is finding the right balance between the two.
You should ideally frame a response that assigns importance to both the quality of the product(service) and excellent customer service. Investigate the significance of both and what eventually ties them to one another.
As a sales professional (or even a customer) you already understand that customer service and product/service go hand-in-hand. But as a sales professional, you realize that to make a sale happen, both aspects are quintessential. You can bring out the same connection between the two in your answer. For instance, if you have a product(service) that is well-built and addresses all the needs of the customers, then customer service will naturally be easier to handle.
Of course, you can make a complete hash of the dialogue between the interview and yourself by picking either of the two i.e. product or customer service. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid favouring one over the other unless it's clear to you that the company you're interviewing for has a preference.
Information such as this can be found out by researching their website or talking to their employees. As mentioned above, if you are picking one, then share your ideology that resonates with the employer's own ideology. But do not even think about murdering the option you did not choose, because in sales, both customer service and product(service) are necessary.
Sample Answer: As a sales professional, it's hard for me to pick one over the other because I believe that both are equally important. What's more, both support each other when it comes to sales.
Practically speaking, customer service will be a cakewalk if the quality of the product (or service) sold to customers is excellent. Having said that, you cannot possibly sell the commodity no matter how excellent it might be unless the customers are treated and dealt with in the right manner.
Personally, I always make it a point to deliver excellent customer service first whilst also prioritizing the quality of the product(service). At the end of the day, customer feedback is extremely important to the company. So is the usability of the product(service) for the customers.
The aforementioned 9 examples are some of the most-asked sales interview questions in India. Keep in mind that you want to invest as much time as possible in preparing yourself for the Q&A round with the recruiter.
Of course, you should not skip out the important part of your interview preparation, like researching the company, the job role, and the industry you're interviewing for. Also, in each of your answers, highlight the fact that you are compatible with the company's culture, goals, mission, and values.
Interviewers for sales jobs in India want to hear honest answers, so be concise and give them the truth. You should definitely avoid speaking more than what is needed or going off on a tangent. If you need more time to gather your thoughts (or if you don't understand the question that was asked), you can always ask the sales interviewer to repeat the question.
While we're on the topic of things not to do when answering sales interview questions, you ought to remember that you should never rush your answers. And definitely do not memorise the answers listed above or ones that you write on your own.
Of course, you could take some pointers on a piece of paper to guide you but don't mug them up. Be natural, answer honestly, take your time, provide examples and past experiences. Remember, there's only so much you can do to prepare for a sales job interview. The end result will ultimately hinge on the interviewer.
If, unfortunately, you are not selected, do not feel down or demotivated. But do ask the interviewer what went wrong or if they can provide some feedback for you to work on. Remember, there will be many other opportunities and sales interviews that will come your way. After all this is sales. And opportunities in this domain perhaps overshadows any other career or industry in India.