The interview is finished, the HR personnel on the other side of the table looks at you, smile shuffles their papers and asks you that one question that you didn’t see coming, the one you didn’t prepare for.
“Do you have any questions?”
You’ve probably already spent hours prepping for the interview, scouring the internet for model answers to common questions, but try not to lose sight of the fact that as much as you want the company to recognise your potential, you must also be sure that they’re a good fit for you. Besides, asking questions is a good way to show that you are a serious candidate. Here are some questions you may want to consider asking at your next interview for a sales position.
In what areas is your company growing or looking to grow?
Get a sense of where the company is headed. The best jobs are ones that you can grow with, and if a company has plans for future development or market expansion, there will be ample opportunity for you to develop and strengthen your own customer base. You want to be assured of opportunities for promotions or maybe even an overseas posting.
How does your company overcome challenges?
Every company has its own set of problems and challenges, and if they’re not currently experiencing any, you can be sure that they have in the past. Finding out about these can clue you into their approach towards problem-solving, and it will also give you an idea of what kind of challenges you can expect to face if you eventually find yourself working for them.
What sales quotas do you expect from this position?
Sales quotas are essential to all sales jobs, and knowing this will give you an idea of your future workload. If the quota is unreasonably high, it may indicate that the company is short-staffed and that you may be expected to fill more than you can manage.
How do team leaders support sales staff?
The best sales teams are ones in which the team members work together. While a little friendly competition can boost sales, how supportive the team is can make a real difference in your success at the company. Team leaders and direct supervisors have the biggest impact on your future working environment and they can make all the difference between a relaxed workspace and a chaotic one. Your ideal team leader should be someone who shares tips and strategies to help the team succeed.
What are the company’s core values?
A company’s values are the fundamentals by which they operate. They are a strong indicator of what working there will be like, and how much you find yourself aligned with these core values may very well determine your level of job satisfaction.
How does your company generate leads, and what percentage of these are converted?
There are many ways a company may do this, from cold-calling to outreach marketing. This will likely determine how you will spend your time as a salesperson, and it’s up to you to decide what you work best with. On top of purely generating leads, ask what percentage of these end up as actual sales. It’s a good way to gauge how the sales team is performing.
What is your commission structure?
Some companies have a tiered sales structure, some use flat rates, and others may have something different altogether. Before stepping into an interview, think about what compensation model works for you. Can you accept a low basic with high commission, or do you prefer a more stable salary?
How do you keep the sales personnel motivated?
It can be tough to keep up a positive attitude in sales, especially so during the inevitable seasonal lulls. Ask how the company motivates employees and keeps up team morale through a slump, and if they organise team-building activities and workshops to keep their sales personnel upbeat and optimistic.
To whom will I be reporting?
You will likely want to know who will be training you, who is your direct supervisor and where they stand in the organisational hierarchy. Don’t be afraid to ask about their expectations and management style to gauge your compatibility with your potential employer.
When do you stop pursuing a client?
The answer to this question will vary based on the company’s protocols and the product or services offered, but sales companies generally have guidelines for how long a lead should be pursued before it is considered dead.
What do you enjoy about working with this company?
Ideally, you should have already looked up the company you’re interviewing for and maybe read a few employee reviews. The interview is a good opportunity to speak directly to an existing employee, and while the interviewer may generalise their answers, their tone and body language will tell you how they really feel about the company.