Salespeople hardly sleep, their brains work round the clock thinking about the next deal they could close. If this sounds like you and you are thinking about your next career adventure, here are examples of sales manager interview questions to prepare for.
A sales manager interview is a high-level pitch of yourself as a salesperson and leader. It comes with the territory - being a salesperson and managing people. You have to make the interview look great. I am guessing you already know that!
Recruiters will ask the usual questions to check how well you know your role if you have the required soft skills and how well you adapt. You need to be able to turn your answers to the same old questions into an interesting pitch. So here are 10 Sales Manager interview questions with tips on how to answer them to make your next job interview look like an excellent sales pitch.
Can you tell us about yourself?
The hiring manager wants to know your work experience and goals. They are also looking for indications from what you share that you are a match for the position—or not.
Make sure to hit all the high points in your resume. Tailor your answers to match the position, for example, if you have experience selling to the same demographic or the same product, share that. Make sure to share a positive take on past negative experiences, it shows your suitability for the leadership role as a sales manager.
How do you go about training a new person on your team?
The hiring manager wants to check if you understand the importance of helping others achieve their potential as quickly as possible. And if you have a training plan in mind. Your training plan should include setting goals for new team members to be proficient in an area by a specific date. It should also include training on the technology employed by the company as well as access to any resources available to the new team member. Also, include an onboarding plan where the Sales Manager would introduce them to key people throughout the organization. Include assigning a mentor to help new salespeople grow or being a dangerous substitute in case they need to fill in for someone.
If you have trained new staff in your previous roles, sharing those examples will add more value to your answer.
What qualities make you good at sales? How about Management?
The interviewer is weighing if you know the difference between being a Sales Executive and a Sales Manager. Because being an awesome Sales Executive doesn’t make one an excellent Sales Manager. The two roles require different skill sets.
For management, share essential skills such as planning, decision making, and delegating. Include examples where you had to apply them in your relevant work experience. For sales, share vital skills such as communication, numerical analysis, resilience, positive thinking, and product knowledge. You will shine even brighter if you show how your skills as a rep will transform once in the role of sales manager.
How do you approach setting goals?
Goal setting is crucial to a Sales Manager’s success in any organization. As a Sales Manager, your role is to set achievable and desirable goals for the team. The interviewer wants to know that you have an elaborate system for establishing these goals. Do you keep in mind the team’s motivation while maximizing their performance?
Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) and have a reliable process for sales territory planning. Incorporate tips and tricks from your days in the field, to show your experience level and expertise.
What keeps you motivated?
You must provide a thoughtful answer here - something about your purpose and passion. Sharing your intrinsic motivation in line with the sales manager role will make you shine. Examples of intrinsic motivators include helping someone find the right product, chasing a challenge, achieving specific results, or working as part of an energetic team. The interviewer is looking for signs that you are passionate about the role. They are also checking to see if you are a good fit for the organization. Remuneration is an important consideration for any job but you should probably skip it as an answer.
How do you describe your leadership style?
The recruiter is checking for your self-awareness as a leader but also looking for a candidate who fits in with the company culture. Do some research beforehand on the company culture and values, and your leadership style, and see how to align yourself. Sharing examples of how you led in previous roles to get a sense of what your leadership skills look like in action will be spot-on.
What is the best motivator for a sales team?
Communicate the need for an individual approach to motivation. For example, this answer from Spotio speaks well, “A significant part of managing salespeople is keeping them inspired and enthusiastic about their work. As a sales manager, I would need to know my team members well, and how to get their best work out of them. Age, sales territory type, experience level, and personality styles can affect what motivates people in unique ways.”
Assure the hiring manager that you can manage all these moving parts toward a well-oiled machine of sales performance.
Have you had incidents where you failed to meet your targets? How did you get back on track?
The interviewer is assessing your behavior when you experience failure in your work. Think of a scenario in your previous role where you failed to meet your target. Then craft your response using the STAR technique, which stands for situation, task, action, and result.
Your answer should show you are resilient and have a positive outlook on life even amidst challenges.
How do you deal with a team member struggling to meet their targets?
The interviewer wants to know how you would enhance the performance of a team member who is failing to meet their quota in order to improve the overall performance. Communicating with the underperforming individual is key to pinpointing the problem they are facing. Show the plan of how you would help the employee improve their performance. And, how you would monitor their progress moving forward.
Tell us about your most challenging moment at work and what you learned from it.
This question requires you to demonstrate your work process for a potential employer. Employers are looking for problem-solvers. As a sales manager, this is a vital skill. The hiring manager wants to ascertain whether your problem-solving skills can translate into the organization.
Your honesty and willingness to share a past problem and its outcome is key to communicating the insight gained. Show how the challenges faced helped improve work processes for you as an individual and for the team. Be thoughtful with your answers, some things have to go unsaid.
Let your answers be concise and short. “How” questions need a time-bound goal and plan. With hard skills questions, the technical jargon needs to be just right - light enough to impress and hard enough to show expertise. Soft skills and behavioral questions are about connection and expression. The interviewer is watching you, so where possible show it. For example, if building rapport is easy for you - connect with the hiring manager or employer as your answer. Let your passion, drive, and tenacity come through as the interview goes on.
Before your sales manager interview is over, close your pitch by asking some insightful interview questions. If you've dealt with some of the challenges the company faces, offer brief relevant solutions you would provide without giving too much away. Lastly, ask when you should expect to hear from them. Good luck.
Some more helpful resources for your next job interview: Why you need to be a good storyteller to be successful at job interviews