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40 common sales interview questions (with example answers)

40 common sales interview questions (with example answers)

Congratulations, you've landed an interview for a sales position. Whether you're just starting in this profession or have several years of experience, practicing how to answer common interview questions for a sales rep interview can help you build confidence and impress potential employers. Explore some of the most common salesperson interview questions, learn how to formulate an appropriate response, and read examples of professional answers.

Entry-level sales interview questions and answers

Here are some entry-level interview questions for sales and marketing you may encounter if you're new to this industry.

What do you think are the most important qualities a salesperson can have, and how do you embody those qualities?

When a hiring manager asks this question, they're giving you an opportunity to showcase your most impressive characteristics. They also may be assessing whether you understand what skills are required to be successful as a salesperson. Some traits you might mention include communication, resilience, and adaptability.

Example Answer: "I believe resilience and effective communication are essential. Throughout my career, my determination and ability to communicate effectively with others has helped me succeed and grow as a professional."

Can you give an example of a time you provided exceptional customer service, even in a non-sales-related role?

Hiring managers may ask this question to determine how much customer service experience you have and assess your interpersonal skills. Consider a time when you went above and beyond to satisfy a customer. Some skills you can highlight include attention to detail, proactiveness, and empathy. 

Example Answer: "When I worked in a restaurant, I encountered a customer who had a serious food allergy. Despite our menu not being allergy-friendly, I took the initiative to speak with the chef, accommodate the customer's dietary restrictions, and ensure they had a safe and enjoyable dining experience."

Can you tell me about a time when you successfully persuaded someone to see things from your perspective, even though they initially disagreed?

Effective salespeople are excellent at influencing other people's decisions. A hiring manager may ask you this question to learn more about your communication style. Showcase your ability to empathize with customers and solve problems gracefully. 

Example Answer: "In my most recent role, I had to persuade a client to adopt a new software tool they thought was too complex. I listened to their concerns, highlighted the many benefits of making this change, and demonstrated how easy the tool was to use. The client ended up loving all the advanced features."

Experienced sales interview questions and answers

If you're an experienced sales professional, hiring managers might ask the following questions to gauge your expertise and leadership skills.

How do you typically research and identify potential leads or customers?

A hiring manager might ask this question to gauge your experience with lead generation and prospecting. They may also be curious about the specific customer relationship management software and tools you've worked with. Highlight your ability to identify leads proactively, leverage existing databases, and conduct qualifying research.

Example Answer: "I use a combination of online research, social media outreach, and networking events to identify and qualify potential leads. I've worked with most of the big CRM software tools to follow up, build rapport, and move prospects through the sales funnel."

Can you share a situation where you successfully persuaded someone to purchase a product or service?

This question is all about assessing your communication and persuasion skills. Consider a time you converted a skeptical prospect into a happy customer. Highlight your ability to engage with them, use relevant information to advocate for their purchase, and overcome hesitations. 

Example Answer: "In my previous role, I persuaded a hesitant client to upgrade their software package by demonstrating the specific benefits tailored to their needs. By offering a trial period and addressing their concerns promptly, I showcased the value of the upgrade, leading to a significant contract renewal."

How do you handle rejection or objections from potential customers?

Salespeople often must overcome rejection from uninterested customers. Hiring managers may ask this question to see if you're the type of person who is easily discouraged. Focus on how you maintain a positive attitude and professional demeanor.

Example Answer: "One of the biggest objections I've faced is regarding pricing. I learned to actively listen to customer concerns before articulating the long-term value and return on investment. This approach has helped me recover several sales and taught me how to refine my pitch."

"Highlight your ability to identify leads proactively, leverage existing databases, and conduct qualifying research."

34 more common interview questions for a sales consultant

Here are 34 more good sales questions for an interview that you can develop your own responses to:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to buy a product or service. 
  • How do you develop and execute a sales strategy for a new product or service?
  • Are there any specific strategies you use to identify and qualify potential leads?
  • Can you provide an example of how you successfully managed a sales team?
  • If you were hiring for this role, what would you look for when speaking with candidates?
  • How do you optimize sales processes to improve efficiency?
  • Can you share an example of a successful sales campaign you've managed?
  • Can you share an example of a time when you handled a complex sales negotiation involving multiple stakeholders?
  • How do you handle challenging customers? 
  • How do you adapt your sales approach when dealing with different types of customers?
  • Tell me how you forecast sales and set realistic targets.
  • Describe a time when you had to meet a sales target or goal that seemed out of reach. 
  • How do you stay informed about new products and services from competitors?
  • Describe your experience using CRM software to manage customer relationships and sales pipelines.
  • Can you share how you've used data and analytics in the past to execute successful sales strategies?
  • How do you prioritize tasks when you have multiple leads to follow up with?
  • How do you keep your sales and communication skills sharp? 
  • Can you explain your typical sales process, from prospecting to closing?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you successfully negotiated a deal with a client?
  • How do you stay motivated as a salesperson, especially during challenging times?
  • How do you handle competition in the market?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work collaboratively with a team to achieve a sales objective.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a significant challenge to close a sale.
  • How do you handle customer complaints?
  • Describe a time when you had to navigate an economic downturn, uncertain market, or changing consumer preferences. 
  • What motivates you to make a new sale?
  • How do you build and maintain long-term relationships with clients?
  • Describe a time when you went above and beyond to provide excellent customer service. 
  • Tell me about a time when you mentored a junior team member. 
  • How would you approach a new territory or market?
  • What strategies have you implemented to drive revenue growth?
  • How do you approach building and maintaining strategic relationships with key clients, especially in challenging or competitive markets?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to lead a sales team through a significant change or pivot in strategy.
  • How do you stay informed about industry trends and integrate this knowledge into your strategy?

Ready to find your dream sales job? Practice answering these questions with a friend to ace your next interview. If you're still applying for roles, upload your resume here and dive into other helpful CareerBuilder blog posts to aid in your career journey.

More tips to thrive as a sales professional

Just starting out in your sales career? Find out how to land an entry-level job with no experience

Have you worked in customer service? Here are some highly transferable skills and related positions to help with your job search. 

Want to make sure hiring managers notice you? Create a top-notch resume with these examples. 

Congratulations on receiving a job offer! Here's what you need to know before you sign your employment contract

Ready to ramp up your earning potential? Here are eight types of raises and how to earn them.