Sales Managers are responsible for setting and achieving sales targets of a company - by creating sales strategies, sales processes, and creating and managing sales teams.
Let's take a brief look at the key job duties, success traits, and job skills of sales managers - which will help you to prepare for and answer your sales manager interview questions in a more impactful way.
Sales Manager Job Duties - Sales Managers set short-term and long term-term sales targets; create and refine sales strategies and processes to achieve those targets; build, coach, and manage sales teams; review, promote, fire individual sales representatives; manage weekly and monthly sales reviews; generate and follow-up on leads and close deals; manage current and potential customer needs; etc.
Sales Manager Success Traits - Sales Managers require good leadership skills, interpersonal and communication skills, strategy and analytical skills, organization skills, negotiation skills, presentation skills, customer management skills, team management skills, etc.
Sales Manager Job skills - Sales Managers require experience with - setting short-term and long-term sales targets, creating strategic sales plans, managing and driving sales teams to achieve sales targets, preparing and giving sales presentations, negotiating with customers, Up-selling and cross-selling to customers etc..
By asking this question, the interviewer wants to see if you have the passion, skill set and experience required to be a successful Sales Manager.
Best way to answer this question is to briefly talk about yourself and highlight the following four points in sequence.
1. Your education.
2. Your previous experience - Highlight the job duties from your previous jobs that match the requirements for this job.
3. Your strengths and passions - Highlight the success traits required for a sales manager - leadership skills, communication skills, negotiation skills, presentation skills, and customer management skills etc.
4. Your job specific skills - Highlight your experience as a sales manager - setting sales targets, creating sales strategies, creating sales processes, customer and industry presentations, following-up on leads, closing deals, etc.
Important - Do not specify your hobbies, personal details, or family details unless specifically asked for.
Sample answer - 'I have a bachelor's degree in management from ABC university (shows that you have relevant qualification). I have ten years of experience in sales, including last five years for company XYZ as a sales manager where I was responsible for overseeing the sales for the west region. (shows that you have relevant experience). I have excellent leadership skills, have managed multiple sales teams, am passionate about creating sales targets and driving sales teams to achieve those targets, love presenting in industry conferences and giving sales pitches etc.(Shows that you are passionate about being a sales manager). In my previous job, my sales strategies have resulted in a net revenue growth of more than 200%, brought about a 10% increase in net new customers, put in processes that increased the sales growth of every individual sales representative in our team, presented in industry conferences which generated focused leads - many of which we successfully closed. (shows that you have the right job related skills.).'
Though this looks like a generic question, the intent of the interviewer is to assess what motivates you - as a sales manager.
There are basically three factors which motivate sales managers - money, recognition, and challenges - and all these factors lead to increased sales for the company
So answer this question by keeping the context to sales, listing one or more of the above motivation factors, and making it obvious that your motivation factors will lead to increased sales for the company.
'What motivates me is setting challenging goals, and meeting and exceeding those goals, in all aspects of my life. For example, as a sales manager I motivate myself and my team, by setting challenging but achievable monthly sales goals, and driving to exceed those goals.'
This is a common scenario in the life of a sales manager, hence is a frequently asked sales manager interview question. Not every sales representative performs at the same level; some will be rock-stars and consistently exceed their sales targets, while other may struggle to meet their sales targets.
As a sales manager if a member of your team is not meeting the sales targets, then take the following actions.
1. Communication - Talk to the sales representative and find out the reason why the sales representative is not able to meet the targets.
2. Tweak sales process if needed - In step 1, if you determine that issue is with the sales process, and other sales representatives are also struggling as well - then tweak the sales process and targets.
3. Offer training if needed - In step 1, if you determine that issue is with the sales representative - offer him coaching, training, refined targets etc; and monitor for some time to see if that helps.
4. Fire if above does not help - If the coaching and training does not help, then you have to let the sales representative go.
Consider the above steps when answering this question.
'In my previous jobs as a sales manager, I had this issue on multiple occasions where a sales manager was not meeting his sales targets. In such occasions, I usually have a good talk with the sales manager to identify the root cause for not meeting the sales targets. If the issue is with the sales process or targets, I tweak them. If the issue is with the skills of the sales representative, I offer him coaching and give him some time to improve. If that does not help, I will replace him.'
'In this particular case we identified that the sales representative was good at generating and pursuing leads, but was having trouble closing the deals. I offered him training specific to deal closure, refined his sales targets, and monitored his progress for a few months.'
Luckily, the training helped this particular sales representative, and he started meeting the sales targets within a couple of months.
This a classic sales manager interview question, that has been asked for decades and probably centuries; but is still relevant and frequently asked today.
By asking this question, the interviewer wants to evaluate your sales approach and see how good you are at actually selling a product. The interviewer can ask you to sell any product instead of a pen - for example 'sell me this book' or 'sell me this marker' or 'sell me this white board' etc.
Many people make the mistake of answering this question by starting with a list of the features of the product - like 'this pen is gold plated', 'this pen writes smooth', 'this pen is cheap', 'this pen is stylish' etc. - and then trying to sell it. This is a completely wrong approach to selling.
There are many right approaches to selling. One of the approaches is the following four step process.
1. Gather information on how the customer will use the product by questioning the customer.
2. Highlight the significance of the situation, or reason, on why the customer will use the product.
3. Highlight the key features of the product that conforms to and enhances the customer's expectations and experience of the product.
4. Sell the product using tactics such as scarcity and limited time deals.
Questions to interviewer - 'When is the last time you used a pen?, why do you use it for? what is important for you in your writings? (Let's assume that the interviewer says he uses the pen for journaling.)'.
Highlight significance of journaling - 'Your journal is an important artifact that you would refer to for years and probably decades. You want to ensure that the ink does not smudge, does not fade, the pen writes smoothly and lasts long.'
Highlight features of this pen specific to interviewer's needs - 'This pen has high quality ink that writes smooth, lasts long, does not smudge; and build robustly for everyday use.'
Sell - 'Why don't you try out this pen today and see for yourself how delightful your journal writing will transform to. And just today we this deal going on - you will get a two pack just for the price of one!
This is one of the sales manager interview questions that you can use to showcase your sales skills. So, do not be shy about highlighting your accomplishments and wins, but at the same time do not be too boastful either.
There are two factors that an interviewer is looking for in your answer regarding your successful sale
1. A tangible, measurable, or quantifiable, information about the sale. Example - A 20% increase in year over year revenue, 5 Million dollar deal over 5 years, etc.
2. A step-by-step process of how you approached and closed the deal.
Soliciting potential customers and making cold calls is an essential skill needed for any sales professional, including sales managers. To be a successful sales manager, and to be comfortable with making cold calls, you need to have certain success traits. Some of these traits are - determination, ability to take rejection, be thick skinned, have the drive to keep trying in the midst of failures, etc.
By asking this question the interviewer is trying to assess if you have any of these success traits or qualities - which makes you a great sales manager.
So, do not just answer this question with a simple answer like 'yes, I'm comfortable with making cold call'; but take the opportunity to showcase above success traits such as drive, determination, ability to take rejection etc. - which wakes it comfortable for you to make cold calls.
Negotiation skills is one of the key success factors that enable a sales manager to close a deal. All other skills such as leadership, communication, presentation, solicitation, etc. will help you to get the customer to the table. Negotiation skills will help you to make the customer actually sign the deal.
Answer this question using the STAR methodology, in story format, describing any specific situation from your past jobs where your negotiation skills helped you make the sale. You can read more about the STAR method of answering interview questions here - STAR Method
Specify your experience with any of the sales, forecasting and CRM tools that you have used in the past; like - Salesforce, Oracle CX, SAP Sales cloud, pipedrive, Zoho CRM etc.
If you have good experience with one or more of these tools, then take the opportunity to showcase your knowledge with these tools - specify how you used them, what helped and what did not, what features you like and what you do not, why you prefer a certain software over another etc.