I have been on both sides of the sales phone interview process throughout my sales career. This article will give you some advice that I have successfully used myself as well as look for when I am conducting the sales phone interview, included are some helpful tips to help you prepare as well.
One of the most important things to think about is to understand the why behind the sales telephone interview. When I set up a sales phone interview, I have selected a lineup of high potential candidates that I am interested in learning more about and to help me make a selection to select from 5-8 final candidates to see face to face. The reality is, hiring sales managers are busy and we do not have the luxury of interviewing lots of candidates as this is not an efficient use of time. Sales recruiters also use the sales phone interview to assess and review the sales candidate to see if they are a fit for any of the sales opportunities they are recruiting for.
If you were selected for a sales phone interview with a hiring manager, congratulations, the hiring sales manager saw something in your application or resume that matches the needs and the sales phone interview is the selection process to select the candidates for the face to face interviews. With this in mind, I would highly suggest to ask the person interviewing you as to why you were selected. This will help you understand what truly stood out and you can use this to your advantage by focusing more on this strength and to use this in your follow-up thank you note and communication. This information will also help you when you do get the face to face. Like in sales, it is important to understand what your buyer is looking for. In searching for a sales career, there are many great candidates out there, but knowing what the hiring manager is looking for or what catches that person's interest is a great start.
The sales phone interview is controlled more by the person conducting the interview as they are using this process to learn more about you. Have a few high level questions ready, but be sure to give them the goods about you to select you for the face to face interview. Once you get the f2f interview, use this time to interview the company, hiring manager and products/service you will be selling. Save that for the f2f, because if you don't pass the phone interview, you will not have the opportunity to get the job offer.
It is also important to remember that your ultimate goal is to get the face to face interview and for sales jobs, you are expected to close. In this situation, you are the product and the hiring manager is the buyer. Be sure to close for the face to face interview, as this is the key process to get you closer to getting hired.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE PRACTICE!
Practice a sales phone interview!
This advice is given numerous times, but to gain the competitive advantage, you must actually do it. Many sales candidates don't actually practice a sales phone interview and fail to impress the person on the other end to offer the f2f interview. I successfully gained numerous interviews by practicing and the best way to practice is to actually find someone to call you and give them the common interview questions and have you verbalize them, but be sure you practice it as a sales phone interview with a phone. Practicing a sales phone interview will help prepare you when you have your real sales phone interview with the hiring sales manager. When you actually practice with a live person, this helps you formulate your answers to make sense and will also help you calm your nerves since preparation is the best cure for the stress and anxiety of the phone interview. Ask your friend to give you feedback and what they think. If you can get another sales professional or even a sales manager to help you, this will be ideal.
I used to practice using Skype as well as a Skype recorder to listen to the practice session. This really helps me as I hear myself give answers. By practicing, I am not trying to think about a best answer and will have talked through it by practicing so that I can deliver my message with the greatest impact. There were times early in my career that I wished I would have practiced because I was not selected for an interview as I knew the phone interview didn't go well. Don't make this mistake and prepare and take the competitive advantage over the other candidates. If you do not have skype, I recommend using a voice recorder to hear yourself and let you know how you would sound like to the other person on the other end of the sales phone interview. Ask yourself if you make sense, if you are concise and most importantly, if you communicated what you wanted to communicate on the sales phone interview.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Most sales phone interview are usually scheduled and you should use this to your advantage to do your homework and research the company, product/service you will be selling... etc. Don't be caught off guard by not knowing the strengths of the products and to answer the simple question as to why you want to work for the company, why you want to sell their product or maybe even what you know about the industry. I will also research the competitive products/service and other news items related to the job.
When you write down your own sets of questions during the phone interview, I am impressed when a candidate asks me specific questions regarding the product and how it ties into the sales role itself. This shows me that 1) The candidate did their homework 2) The person is truly interested in the product/company 3) Is not asking a basic question that could have been found on the internet through research.
You can also better prepare for your sales phone interview by reading other tips and advice. Do a search for sales phone interview on your favorite browser and gain some other tips to help you best prepare for your sales phone interview.
PREPARE THE ENVIRONMENT
I have conducted numerous sales phone interview before where the candidate had informed me that they were driving and had asked if I didn't mind if the noise in the background was not too much of a bother. I basically told them that our interview was over and skipped on moving this candidate forward. You want to set yourself up to show that you are serious and ready to do business! You can successfully accomplish this by preparing the environment you will be in when you actually on the phone interview. Below are some tips to prepare your phone interview space:
- Make sure you find a quiet location and limit the amount of distraction if you are home: pets barking, turn off other phones and let your other house mates know that you need pure silence for the next 45-60 minutes. During a sales phone interview, if you are distracted or you are not heard, then it can be tough for you to focus as well as for the other person on the line.
- Have your resume in front of you, pen, paper, job description/job ad printed in front of you, list of questions to ask and your research. A sales phone interview gives you the freedom to have your prepared workspace ready for anything. Be sure to have the basics so that you won't have to scramble while you are on your sales phone interview.
- Have a clock in front of you to be sure to be respectable of the interviewer's time. If the interview is going well and going past the allotted time, you might want to say, "I am really enjoying our conversation and wanted to be respectable of your time, should we continue this with a face to face interview?" or ask if it is ok with their schedule to continue the conversation.
- Dress professionally: When you dress the part during your sales phone interview, you feel a lot more confident during the actual sales phone interview. Treat it as serious as a face to face interview. Even though during a sales phone interview, the person interviewing you cannot see you, but if you dress the part and feel confident, this will come across when you speak and will put you in a professional frame of mind during the sales phone interview.
- Have your calendar readily available if you need to schedule a face to face, you don't want to lose the immediate opportunity to get something on the books by not having your calendar available. Remember, you want to progress the sales phone interview to a face to face interview.
- Be realistic in knowing first hand that you will not be offered a job during the sales phone interview. The sales phone interview is a selection process and I have never heard of someone being hired on a sales phone interview. At least for a reputable and real sales job.
An important action you have to do in communicating is to listen during your sales phone interview. Listen intently to the questions being asked or what the person on the other end is saying, rather than thinking about what you are going to say next. Listening to what the hiring manager says and actively taking notes can be used during the face to face interview and this does impress me when I meet the candidate as they bring up our discussion on the phone, a perfect ice breaker and it shows me that you were listening.
The sales phone interview can be used by you to gain very important information about the sales job opportunity you are applying for. Listen and take notes throughout the sales phone interview to help you prepare for future interviews with the hiring sales manager or hiring company.
SMILE AND CLOSE DURING THE SALES PHONE INTERVIEW
A great advice I got from a recruiter was to smile when I talked into the phone during the sales phone interview. Now don't force the smile but try smiling as your voice sounds a lot more pleasant over the phone when you do so. Relax, have confidence, prepare and remember to close for the face to face. A sales phone interview should be treated the same as a face to face interview, and in sales you must close and ask for the business. In this case, you are asking for the job and to move forward in the hiring process. Remember to close!
SALES PHONE INTERVIEW CONCLUSION
To land a sales job, you will need to get in front of the hiring sales manager and to do so, you have to get past the sales phone interview and to be selected for the face to face interview. This article provides advice to help you start preparing but also do an online search for other phone interview tips. You can view a list of search results here: Sales Phone Interview Search Results. I also suggest reading some really good articles I have found on the internet on this: sales phone interview tips. Remember, the sales phone interview is your first obstacle to pass before getting in front of decison maker, prepare yourself and reach your goal of landing a face to face job interview.