Cut the BS Out of Your Interviews

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks


Having interviewed thousands of sales people it still surprises me on how many sales people think they can wing-it in an interview. It’s time to cut the BS out of your interviews and prepare to win. In the following blog, I will be sharing three simple strategies that will help put you at the top of the sales podium.

As Steven Covey says in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit #3: Put First Things First.

Your résumé is the first thing that a hiring manager is going to judge you on so make sure it’s great. Too many sales people think, “Just get me the interview and I’ll close it”. Wrong! At every turn you are being judged by your interviewer and they will see right through that BS. Just like all your other sale appointments, your interview should be treated no differently. You need to be fully prepared with all your sales tools. After all if you were selling a widget and the client asked you for the spec sheet on the product wouldn’t you want to provide them with the best spec sheet possible for their evaluation or would you hand them over a generic fluffy document that has no value? For guidance on your most important marketing piece check our post Get Your Sales Résumé Out Of The Recycling Bin. In this post you’ll pick-up several tips on how to tailor your résumé to your audience providing you’re a strong foundation for your interview.

Hiring managers are looking for evidence that you’re good and not the same old platitudes like; “I’m a strong hunter”, “I’m a team player”, “I’m a closer”, “I know how to get the job done” and many more empty comments. What they are looking for is evidence that you’re good so check your ego at the door before you go in and make sure your give them what they’re looking for. One simple strategy I like to recommend is the below S.A.R. strategy.

S.A.R. is really simple! All you need to do is back-up your strengths with enough context that the interviewer can picture you doing the job. The easiest way to do this is to remember the acronym S.A.R. and that it stands for situations, actions and results.

Situation – describe a situation that helps demonstrate your ability. A good example of this might be talking about your biggest sale or your most challenging sale. This would be a good opportunity for you to showcase the types of challenges you can solve.

Action – this is when you would describe how you tackled the challenges in the above mentioned situation. Make sure you provide enough details when describing your actions as it helps to showcase your process for solving problems.

Results – Give the facts Jack! Don’t be afraid to detail the outcome of your actions – i.e. the resulting actions drove 50% growth in my territory for 2012. Don’t forget your audience is a sales manager & VP’s of Sales and they live on figures and facts. They have metrics that drive their lives so feed them back with something they will understand and relate to.

By far the biggest mistake that sales people make when going on an interview is they don’t do enough research on the company they are interviewing with. Too many sales reps think that a quick overview research of the company is good enough but it’s not. Here’s where the most BS comes out in the interview because the sales rep has no depth of knowledge about his/her buyer (the interviewer and his/her company).

If you’re a professional sales person, shouldn’t you dig deep enough to understand what problems your interviewer’s company solves? who they compete against, what a typical customer looks like, who’s leading the company and what’s their vision as an example? Imagine the differ outcomes a sales reps will have with and without the proper research. Its sales 101 stuff but many sales people still don’t think of an interview as a sales call so they end up losing and wondering why they didn’t get chosen. Interviewing is in fact the most important sales calls as you are potentially choosing a company that your future sales calls will be with.

Choosing a strong recruiting team can provide you with a lot of the background details of the company that you will be interviewing with like; product, sales culture, style of manager and much more but this is still a sales call so you should still dig deeper to build your own strategy and plans for approaching this buyer (interviewer).

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