12 example questions to ask an employer in a sales interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In a sales interview, hiring managers have high expectations for your persuasive abilities, which makes selling yourself crucial. An easy way to do this is by asking your potential employer several questions regarding the organisation and role. Asking questions when interviewing for a sales position demonstrates your interest, enthusiasm and engagement while giving you a chance to highlight your qualities and experience further. In this article, we list 12 example questions to ask an employer in a sales interview and outline some sales interview preparation tips.

12 example questions to ask an employer in a sales interview

Below are 12 example questions to ask an employer in a sales interview:

1. What distinguishes a great performer from a good one in this role?

Asking questions about the organisation's employee expectations outlines your willingness to exceed them from the moment you start in the new role. It also shows your focus on finding a role that's a good fit for you and demonstrates your desire to work hard. After asking this question, pay close attention to the recruiter's answer and write down the key traits they mention that you can use if you secure the role.

2. What's the culture like here?

Recruiters prefer hiring candidates that match well with the organisation's culture and work environment. This ensures that they can seamlessly collaborate with others and be more productive and engaged in the workplace. Enquiring about an organisation's culture shows the prospective employer that you're aware of this and helps you determine whether you fit into the organisation's culture.

Related: What is workplace culture, and what are its characteristics?

3. Which tools do your salespeople use?

Technical skills and abilities have quickly become valuable hard skills that many hiring managers look for in candidates. Asking this question shows that you're familiar and proficient with technology and are willing to try new tools and software to complete tasks and meet the organisation's goals. It also makes you a more attractive candidate as you can assist other salespersons with using technology to simplify processes.

Related: Technical skills: definitions and examples

4. Can you tell me about the organisation's sales process?

Hiring organisations have different sales processes depending on the products or services they sell, the technology they use and their marketing strategy. Displaying an interest in an organisation's sales process demonstrates that you understand that not all organisations operate in the same way. It also indicates that you can learn and adopt new sales processes and want to know how the particular organisation sells its products or services.

5. What metrics are most important for evaluating performance?

Sales organisations use various metrics to evaluate the performance of their salespeople in every quota. Asking this question helps you to gain insight into the metrics they use and shows that you're goal-oriented. It also signifies that you understand the importance of data analytics in modern sales and the role it plays.

6. How collaborative is your team?

Teamwork and collaboration are vital skills in every selling environment and hiring managers want to know that you can work as part of a team to achieve a shared goal. By enquiring about an organisation's teamwork culture, you can establish that you're a team player and are likely to share feedback, support and insights with other salespersons. It also demonstrates that you value teamwork and care about the team's overall performance.

Related: Teamwork skills: definition, types and tips for improvement

7. What's a typical day like in this role?

Sales positions vary significantly and knowing the day-to-day activities for a particular job can help you to identify the most vital tasks to your success in this role. This question also shows your pragmatism and foresight, which can make you a more attractive candidate. When asking this question, ensure that you get specific details about the role's daily tasks so that you know what the employer expects of you.

8. What's your highest priority in the next six months and how can I help?

Recruiters like it when candidates take an interest in the organisation's goals and recurring issues. They want applicants who can exceed expectations to help the organisation improve its sales and profit levels. Enquiring about a company's priorities also outlines your interest in helping them find a solution to their recurring challenges.

Additionally, it demonstrates that you think you're the ideal candidate for the sales position because you already see a future with the organisation. After asking this question, pay attention to the hiring manager's response to gain insight into some of the challenges that the employer faces and what type of salesperson they want to hire.

9. What's the quota for this position?

Every sales position has a sales quota that employers expect employees to meet. Asking about the company's sales quota for a position gives you an idea of the workload required to meet and even exceed this quota. This way, if you do get the job, you can prepare yourself accordingly. Other follow up questions to ask regarding sales quotas include:

  • What percentage of employees meet their quotas?

  • What percentage of employees exceed their quotas?

By asking these questions, you can determine whether the sales quota is achievable, which can provide an insight into what the work environment is like.

10. How much flexibility do I have in negotiating prices with a customer?

Customers like salespeople who are very flexible when negotiating prices, but some organisations have a limit on this degree of flexibility. Asking this question shows that you care about the hiring organisation and its selling price structure. It also tells the hiring manager that you possess exceptional negotiating skills and can easily convince customers to buy products or subscribe to services.

11. How does this company generate leads?

Asking questions about lead generation displays your interest in knowing more about a company's sales process. For instance, they may use cold-calling, email marketing, advertising or outreach marketing and understanding this helps you determine how to spend your time when working for them. It also gives you time to assess whether you can generate leads using the organisation's methods. For example, if you're not comfortable with cold-calling, this role might not be the right fit for you.

12. How do you train new hires?

On-the-job training is a key part of any sales position. Enquiring about a company's training process gives you insight into the methods and approaches they use to develop a new employee's skills. It also demonstrates your interest in the hiring organisation and sales role, in addition to indicating your willingness to learn. This is a great question to ask as hiring managers are more likely to consider you when you display a readiness to learn new skills, techniques and abilities.

Sales interview preparation tips

Here are some useful tips to help you effectively prepare for a sales interview:

Do your research

Interviewing for a sales position is all about selling yourself, so do your research to gain an understanding of any relevant retail data, sales trends and cycles. To do this, look at press articles, blogs and industry-specific magazines to learn as much information as possible. Additionally, ensure that you research the company you're interviewing with to gain an in-depth idea of their products, target market and audience. This way, you can use this knowledge to confidently and clearly answer any sales interview questions.

Practise your answers

Another great way of preparing for a sales interview is to find common interview questions that hiring managers for these roles typically ask and practise answering them. This helps to build your confidence and ensures that your responses are direct and effective. It also allows you to match your transferable skills and abilities to the sales position, which increases your likelihood of securing the role. When practising your responses, try to mention examples to show the hiring manager that you have experience in this field.

Know your figures and processes well

Having impressive sales figures is essential when applying for any sales role. Alongside this, hiring managers also want to know how and why you achieved these figures. This means that it's crucial for you to know your sales figures and processes thoroughly before the sales interview.

To help you do this, try to determine your monthly, quarterly and annual attainments and write them down for reference. Additionally, explain your reasoning for gaining these figures, including how long your sales cycle is, the process involved and how many deals you've closed. Knowing all this ensures that you can respond to interview questions without hesitation and can provide specific examples of deals.

Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

During your sales interview, it's vital to do more than simply respond to questions to stand out. Recruiters also expect you to show a genuine interest in the organisation and role, so prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer. For instance, you can ask questions about the company's values and culture or their approach to sales and onboarding. When doing this, ensure that the questions are insightful and specific to both the role and hiring organisation.

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