Layoffs, vacations and cutbacks. You might think that now is a good time to start thinking about a new career in sales – and so should you.
Could you make it in sales? While not everyone is suitable for a sales career, it can be – even if you need to make the transition from another career. Here's how to successfully interview and land your first job in sales.
You might think that only people with sales experience are considered for a sales position. That could be true. However, if you've never sold anything, your job is to sell yourself for that sales position.
Think of your interview as your first sale. You are the product. Tasks that people in other professions perform are also required in sales: the ability to work with others. Being able to communicate new information. Organization and control of activities during the working day.
You will be judged on how you prepare for your sales pitch. The amount of preparation you put into your interview shows your approach to the sale. Unprepared candidates will not be hired. Knowledgeable, prepared candidates are more likely to be judged than those who can move onto a successful sale.
Research everything you can to know about the company – its products, its customers, and its competition. Know whether the industry is declining or booming. When you google for information, take a deep dive and go through 10 pages of google results. Prepare your questions. Just make sure what you are asking is something you couldn't have learned before the meeting.
One question you can ask is what skills the company is looking for in a candidate. You may hear things like flexibility, high energy, willingness to learn, or a person who is self-sufficient. Once you know what the company wants, your work begins.
Your task now is to demonstrate how relevant experiences can be transferred to the skills you are looking for. An example could be enrolling in an online class to learn a skill that would improve your job performance at that point. Class attendance was not required, but you realized that improvement was needed and that the improved skills would make you a better employee. You also attended class at night by rearranging your schedule. Attending the class shows your high energy, self-starter, and flexibility since reorganizing your schedule. You don't need to have sales experience to be considered for sale – you just need to be able to demonstrate that you have sales skills.
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Successful salespeople are great listeners. So show during your interview that you are a good listener. Asking for clarification on a question shows this. Don't assume that you know what the interviewer means by certain questions. "Tell me about yourself" can be answered in many different ways. Answer with "Would you like to find out more about my business success or something else?" indicates that you want to provide a targeted response. It shows that you are listening.
Arriving at the appointment 15 minutes early also provides evidence that you may have the skills to be a successful salesperson. Bring a folder, portfolio, or something that looks neat to include your list of questions. You can also have your questions on a tablet or mobile phone. With your list of prepared questions, you want to show that you are organized and can efficiently and effectively handle a sales call.
I would also like to end every sales meeting with the question: "Was there a question that I should have asked that I didn't ask?" This is where you can sometimes find useful information. In other cases, you will hear, "No, you asked anything I can think of." Either way, it shows that you were prepared.
Selling is a fabulous career. Too many people have misconceptions about sales that they don't consider it a likely career choice. Selling is about helping customers make good buying decisions – it's not about manipulating and forcing people. And you can prepare for a sales career. What's stopping you now?
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