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The ultimate sales interview question is the holy grail for anyone involved in a sales interview. If you’re an aspiring Sales Development Rep or Account Executive, it’s a chance to knock your interview out of the park with a killer answer. And if you’re a manager, it sets your candidates up to tell you everything you need to know to decide if they’re the right fit for your team.
“Why do you want to work in sales?”
Again, nothing fancy. The question itself even feels almost like a formality. But the answer it elicits can make or break a sales candidate. Candidates would do well to consider their answer, and managers would do well to listen closely. Colin expanded on this in the SADNESS Project, a panel discussion that Corporate Bro hosted back in April. Let’s look at the answer he looks for, and the answers that make him send candidates packing.
The question itself even feels almost like a formality. But the answer it elicits can make or break a sales candidate.
Give this answer and you’re out
Culture is important to your success at any tech company. And showing a strong culture fit is a big part of the interview process. But when Colin asks why a candidate wants to work in sales, the last thing he wants to hear is someone extolling the virtues of the cliche tech company office environment. As he says: “If they say they want to be at a casual startup with free snacks and happy hours and cool culture, they’re immediately out.”
A sales interview question is designed to elicit a sales-specific answer. If a candidate redirects the topic to something about how cool it is that there’s ping pong in the office, it shows they don’t have enough passion for the profession itself.
It should go without saying that a sales interview question is designed to elicit a sales-specific answer. If a candidate redirects the topic to something about how cool it is that there’s ping pong in the office, it shows they don’t have enough passion for the profession itself to share with their interviewer. The best candidates leave the culture stuff for a little later in the interview process, and use this question to show that the essence of the sales profession is in their blood and bones.
The answer to nail this sales interview question
Just as the question is pretty straightforward, the answer should be too. As Colin says, when he asks why a candidate wants to be in sales, “the only correct answer is that they want to make a ton of money.” In other words, keep it simple: The reason you want to be in sales is that you want to sell – and sell a lot.
The obvious case for this answer is that it shows motivation to bring in revenue and boost the company’s bottom line. But it also tells you a lot about the candidate’s personality. It shows that they’re laser-focused on success, and probably at least a little competitive as well. Those are precisely the qualities you want in a sales rep, and will contribute to the kind of culture tech sales managers should be trying to build.
Looks like, in its way, culture is an important part of the answer, after all.