Nailing the Sales Interview: 6 Professionals’ Top Strategies

Success starts with research.

Written by Tyler Holmes
Published on Jun. 10, 2021
Nailing the Sales Interview: 6 Professionals’ Top Strategies
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As a prospective salesperson, the process of selling begins at the interview. Only this time, you are the product. And like any good sales pitch, knowing your audience and understanding what key component is missing from the company’s equation for even greater success is essential.

However, like every product or service, each role is unique and requires a tailored approach. Why are you the right fit?

“The number one best thing you can do is research as much as possible,” Matt Ranta, vice president of business development at AdAction, said. “If you really want to stand out, learn everything you can about a company.”

Built In Colorado sat down with Ranta and five other industry professionals to uncover what strategies have helped cement their success in sales and the most important attributes they look for in their next great new hire.



Highlight Previous Success

“As an interviewer, the most important thing you can do to prepare for the recruiting process is to make sure you understand what will make someone successful in the role you are recruiting for. With this in mind, you can formulate and ask questions that will help you understand the candidate’s team, role and culture fit. As an interviewee, I approach a sales interview like I am joining a live sales meeting. My preparation is rooted in research and discovery to understand the business and the role as well as allow me to ask smart questions. I prepare a set of stories to highlight my successes, sales acumen and work style as it relates to the role I am applying for.”

Michael Foster is the Senior Growth Marketing Manager at TextUs, a business communication platform.



Ask The Right Questions

“Listen to the past two earnings calls of the company you are interviewing for (if public, of course) and do research on their competitors to help generate some quality questions.

Regarding our brand, Zoom brings incredible pride and enthusiasm to any sales professional – make sure to ask questions about our culture as well. My team only hires by referral (we are in partner sales where relationships are everything); we have three rounds of intense interviews where we challenge the prospective employee on their objective thinking, problem solving, and what Zoom acquires by hiring them. So prepare yourself by reading our blog, visiting our social media and asking smart questions. Representing a company like Zoom is amazing, plus the culture of winning and professional development makes being a salesperson here the most coveted position in enterprise SaaS.”

Kevin Thomsen is the Senior Manager of Master Agent Sales at Zoom, a video communications company.


Four Winds Interactive
Four Winds Interactive

Showcase Your Worth

“Understand your value. Throughout the interview process, you will want to demonstrate that you understand what you bring to an organization. Review your past experiences so you can articulate your strengths and the success you have had around attaining revenue and growth goals, as well as your critical thinking skills. No matter what questions are asked, find a way to make sure you hit on those skills.

By demonstrating to interviewers of a sales team the success you have had and the hunger you have for sales, you will make it clear to them that you want to be in a sales role and not in a supportive role. Doing so allows the interviewers to envision your impact on their organization and makes you a more valuable candidate. In addition to articulating your value in your question responses, it is equally important to show your value by asking quality questions. Don’t ask questions like, ‘Is this a good time for me to join the organization?’ Instead, ask ‘I’ve heard that about 80% of your sellers hit quota. What separates the top sellers in your organization from the rest of the pack?’”

Hayley Blackstock is a Sales Manager at Four Winds Interactive, an enterprise software company.



Flex Your Research Skills

“Research the company! This is the best way to show me how you approach prospecting. This is also an ideal time to make sure you like the product and align with the culture and values.

Research the interviewing team. Look at their LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media sites to see if you can find something to connect on or even find a mutual connection. A strong referral can go a long way and you can build a stronger relationship more quickly.

Know your numbers. Sales is a numbers game. Impress us with your stats and be prepared to answer the following:

  • What was your quota (all prior sales roles)?
  • How did you perform against that quota?
  • What were key metrics?
  • How long was your typical sales cycle?
  • What was your average deal size? Largest? Smallest?
  • What size companies did you target? Revenue or employee count?

Prepare an action plan. Draft a 30-60-90 day plan, prepare a prospecting strategy, and identify some target accounts and how you might approach prospecting into those accounts.

Be a continuous learner. True salespeople never stop learning. Show us what you’ve learned recently and new strategies you’ve tried to up your game!”

Michael Burnell is a Senior GTM Recruiter at Matillion, a data integration platform.



Respond With Meaning

“Research the company deeply. I’m speaking both as a hiring manager and from previous experience when interviewing (or in preparation for events, conferences, etc). The number one best thing you can do is research as much as possible. I always ask, ‘what do you know about our company?’ I’m also prepared to answer this question or speak to it as needed in the aforementioned scenarios.

As a hiring manager, I want a thoughtful and deep answer here. I want to know you’ve done more than look at the homepage of our site – I want to see you have interest, I want you to inquire about things you didn’t understand, or reference areas you thought were unique. As a candidate or service provider, I want to be able to speak to these things if I’m on the other side of the table as well. Too many people blindly apply to anything in their ‘field’ and then casually take interviews with little preparation hoping to simply wow the person on the other side with their ability to hit a quota, or use industry-related acronyms appropriately. If you really want to stand out, learn everything you can about a company, and for that matter everything you can about anyone you’ll be speaking with.”

Matt Ranta is the Vice President of Business Development at AdAction, a mobile app marketing platform.



Understand your priorities

“Preparing to interview a candidate is important work. Both parties are working to better understand each other and the opportunity each represents to the other party. Preparation will ensure you understand your priorities, establish a plan to help you clearly understand if a candidate will excel in the position you have available, and if they are the best available candidate. Here is what I consider:

  • Past success: How far-reaching was it and over what period of time was this achieved? Achieving 105% of a plan with 40% of the business coming from net new logos is very different from finishing 150% of a plan where 80% of the number was achieved in up-sell or add-on business.
  • Coachability: Are they open to input and observations? Are they clear and complete in their communication? Coachable people are very transparent.
  • Intellectual curiosity: Can they speak in detail about the market you are in, a market they are in, and do they aspire to continue to learn? Can they express complex ideas in an easy-to-understand way and do they emphasize the most salient points? Verbal communication skills are fundamental to our business.”

Jeff McAllister is the Vice President of Enterprise Sales at Druva, a cloud-based data protection platform.

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