Layoffs, furloughs, and cutbacks. You might be thinking that now would be a great time to consider a new career in sales—and you should.
Could you make it in sales? While not everyone is suited for a sales career, it is possible—even if you have to make the transition from a different career. Here is how to successfully interview and land your first job in selling.
Consider it your first sale
You might think that only people who have sales experience will be considered for a sales position. That might be true. But your job, if you’ve never sold anything, is to start selling yourself for this selling position.
Think of your job interview as your first sale. You are the product. Tasks that people perform in other professions are also required in selling: The ability to work with others. Being able to communicate new information. Organizing and controlling activities during the work day.
Come prepared to the job interview
You will be judged on how you prepare for your sales interview. The amount of preparation that you put into your interview will demonstrate your approach to selling. Unprepared candidates are not going to get hired. Knowledgeable, prepared candidates will more likely be judged as having the skills that can transition to successful selling.
Research everything you can about the company—its products, its customers, and its competition. Know whether its industry is in decline or on the upswing. If you’re Googling for information, make it a deep dive and go through 10 pages of Google results. Prepare your questions. Just be sure that what you ask is something you could not have learned before the meeting.
Be able to prove you have selling skills
One question you can ask is what kind of skills the company is looking for in a candidate. You may hear things like flexibility, high energy, a willingness to learn, a person who’s a self-starter. Once you know what the company wants, your work begins.
Your job now is to demonstrate how any relevant experiences you may have translate to the skills they are seeking. One example could be how you enrolled in an online class to learn a skill that would enhance your job performance at the time. Taking the class wasn’t required, but you recognized the need for improvement and that the enhanced skills would make you a better worker. You also took the class at night by rearranging your schedule. Enrolling in the class demonstrates your high energy, your being a self-starter, and your flexibility since you rearranged your schedule. You don’t have to have selling experience to be considered for selling—you just have to be able to prove you have selling skills.
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Act like a successful salesperson
Successful salespeople are great listeners, so during your interview demonstrate that you are a good listener. Asking for clarification of a question demonstrates this. Don’t assume you know what the interviewer means by certain questions. “Tell me about yourself” can be answered a lot of different ways. Answering with “Would you like to know more about my business success or something else?” shows you want to give a targeted answer. It shows you are listening.
Arriving at the appointment 15 minutes early is another way to demonstrate you may have the skills to be a successful salesperson. Bring a folder, portfolio, or something that looks neat to hold your list of questions. You could also have your questions on a tablet or cell phone. With your list of prepared questions, you want to demonstrate that you are organized and you can efficiently and effectively handle a sales call.
I also like to end each sales meeting with this question: “Was there any question that I should have asked that I didn’t?” Here you sometimes will learn some piece of useful information; other times, you will hear, “No, you have asked all that I can think of.” Either way, this shows you were prepared.
Should you be in sales?
Sales is a fabulous career. Too many people have misconceptions about selling so they won’t consider it as a likely career choice. Selling is about helping customers make great buying decisions—it’s not about manipulating and coercing people. And you can prepare yourself for a sales career. What’s stopping you now?
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