Sales interviews have no basis in reality.

19 replies
When you walk into an office for a telesales job.. or any kind of sales job really.. you are usually met by someone in HR that has never sold anything in their lives.

That doesn't stop them however, from judging you on a criteria that is largely based on misconceptions.

If you are smiling, enthusiastic, outgoing.. maybe tell a story or two.. you will get the job.. but you will have a very hard time cold calling or selling face to face.

If you are neutral, deadpan and logical.. you will make far more sales in real life.. but you won't fit into her conceptual reality of what a good salespeople should sound like, and you won't get the job.

What works in interviews doesn't work in real life.

And the people who do interview you largely have no idea of what to look for or how to sort between the good and bad applicants.

So they fall back into old sales cliches: 'Lots of energy, bubbly personality, charismatic, excellent communication skills, driven to succeed'

This is literally what they are screening you for. The reality is that these things are meaningless by themselves.

It's easy for her to judge you based on these qualities because they're easy to understand and are accepted AS TRUTH by 99% of sales recruiters. They aren't paradoxical or counter-intuitive, even though most of consultative selling is based on doing things that on surface, would appear to be going against your self-interest - which is exactly why it works.

Forgive the lady, it's not her fault. Play along.. joke with her.. humour her.. then drop that shit once you get on the floor.
#basis #interviews #reality #sales
  • Profile picture of the author shane_k
    I don't agree

    For every single sales job that I have had, the person that hired me was either the sales manager or another sales associate who was in training to be the sales manager. I have never had someone from "HR" do the interview.

    And truthfully it doesn't matter if you go into the interview neutral, deadpan and logical like you said, or if you go in with lots of energy, charismatic or whatever.

    Good sales people will be the ones who will be able to get past the interviewers judgements and preconceptions about what a sales person should be like, and use their sales skills in the job interview to get the job.

    My opinion is if you are letting the interviewers misconsceptions conrol whether you get the job or not, then you are either, not a good sales person, or you are not using your sales skills.

    Remember good sales people don't make excuses, nor do they blame others. They take responsibility and kick ass!

    There was only one sales job that I worked in where I felt that the companies strategy for hiring and interviewing was flawed. And it didn't have to do with an "HR" person.

    It was with a company where 90% of the job was lead generation, and in the interview that never came up at all. They never asked nor discussed anything to do with lead generation knowledge or skill.

    Because of that their turnover rate was extremely high. They hired a lot of sales people who knew how to sell. Who were really great at sitting in their offices or waiting around for leads to come into the business. But didn't know squat about getting out there and generating thier own leads.
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    • Profile picture of the author Matthew North
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      I think a lot of what you've said in your post if full of bias and just inaccurate all together.

      Charisma, enthusiasm, communications skills, and the determination to succeed are not cliches. These are some pretty basic tenants of a sales type personality that proves to be an advantage in sales over those who don't display these personality traits naturally.
      LOL dude. How do you think I am biased? What mental position do you think I'm projecting?

      I agree that they're tenants of a sales personality, but there's plenty of amazing salespeople I know that are uncharismatic but they are very congruent and centred. I know people which have a low amount of enthusiasm which actually lowers the prospect's guard instead of them reflexively pulling away.

      Would you agree that there's more than one way to sell, or do you need to fit into this conceptual framework in order to be success?

      You could have all these things and not sell at all if you don't know what you're doing right?

      I mean there's plenty of people who have these qualities and don't understand sales at all, but because they have 'Personality', of a salesperson they get hired and bomb out in the first few months. This is the error of attribution I'm pointing out.

      Maybe not in every company, but you just need to look at the churn of most sales organisations to understand that people don't know what they are doing; both the hiring manager as well as the salesperson. How many businesses provide proper sales training? How many agents know how to start a call properly? How many account managers actually make prospecting calls at all? Does their enthusiasm, confidence and communication skills make up for this fact? No.

      Because personality is SECONDARY, previous success and understanding and applying a consistent sales process would be the primary reasons for hiring someone - at least for me.

      It could be ANY kind of personality if they love and breathe sales, these people aren't going to leave the business because sales is their purpose in life.

      The point I was making is that there is a wide spectrum of salespeople, and not having a particular trait doesn't hurt you if you do the same things other top performing agents do. It's cause and effect, not a popularity contest. If you aren't funny or outgoing then don't try to be, own who you are. Be very congruent and comfortable with being a bit introverted or serious instead of trying to fit into other people's expectations of you. The paradox is that people will have more respect for you because you are being authentic as opposed to seeking approval by playing a character, and in this case it's called the 'Salesperson.'

      The meaning of these traits are all so relative to everything else that they become irrelevant. Saying that one trait gives you an edge over people who don't have them is basically saying that people are all the same; that EVERY prospect will appreciate these traits in a salesperson. This is really just all or nothing thinking.

      I appreciate your input.
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      I have no idea what I'm doing.

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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Gentlemen;

        We have all seen phenomenal salespeople that weren't outgoing, charismatic, or have a positive attitude.

        Ben Feldman (The world's Greatest Life Insurance salesman) was soft spoken, stumbled in his speech, had a lisp, and was a short fat man. Would you have hired him, when you first met him? He was turned down for his first sales job.

        I went into the furniture store to buy an end table, and walked out with about $30,000 in new furniture (and that was just my first trip to see "Dan..The World's Greatest Furniture Salesman".)
        He was 60 years old, walked with a limp. had no charisma, and wouldn't get hired by any of us. But, My God, he knew how to ask the right questions.

        Me? I was turned down for my first insurance sales job. The next year, I was the third top agent in the company (out of 2,200 agents). Why? Skill? no.
        Personality? No. Positive outlook? Not even close.
        I just didn't avoid rejection, and worked harder than most others in the company.

        The problem with "Naturals" is that they don't try hard, so they don't advance. They don't become great. They tend to coast, because they are good enough to get by with coasting. There are exceptions. I had one salesman that was a real natural. And he stuck with it, and became great. One.

        It isn't personality. It's work ethic and a little smarts.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    I think a lot of what you've said in your post if full of bias and just inaccurate all together.

    Charisma, enthusiasm, communications skills, and the determination to succeed are not cliches. These are some pretty basic tenants of a sales type personality that proves to be an advantage in sales over those who don't display these personality traits naturally.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnRussell
    I've hired lots of salespeople in my past life as a sales manager. HR's job was simply to weed out the deadbeats. The real interviews are with the sales manager - or higher.

    We scored our candidates on a variety of things - none of the scoring was about smiling etc.

    Our biggest predictor of future success in sales? Proven past success in sales.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gladiator
    Totally disagree with all your very inaccurate post! Sales is closing people making them do something that they don't want most of the time! You have to be full of confidence, quick thinking," enthusiastic, outgoing, charismatic, excellent communication skills, driven to succeed'

    However I have worked with some sales people that have not had many of those qualities and have done ok but eventually not good enough!

    A sales manager does the hiring for sales i have never seen a HR do it for SALES jobs...

    So you have a Telemarketing Forum? Uh,Uh....

    Andre
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    I have never hired any salesperson who only got as far as reaching my HR person for an interview. That tells me they will not be able to or won't get to the decision maker if I did hire them. Rules? there are no rules.

    Another thing. I never ever called any of the candidates back. Not even for second interviews. I only dealt with the ones that followed up with me. If they aren't going to follow up with me who is hiring them, they aren't going to follow up with a potential client.

    If getting hired isn't the most important sales situation for them to follow a proper sales process, I don't know what is.

    I never hired any sales people despite employing many of them. They really hired themselves.






    Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

    When you walk into an office for a telesales job.. or any kind of sales job really.. you are usually met by someone in HR that has never sold anything in their lives.

    That doesn't stop them however, from judging you on a criteria that is largely based on misconceptions.

    If you are smiling, enthusiastic, outgoing.. maybe tell a story or two.. you will get the job.. but you will have a very hard time cold calling or selling face to face.

    If you are neutral, deadpan and logical.. you will make far more sales in real life.. but you won't fit into her conceptual reality of what a good salespeople should sound like, and you won't get the job.

    What works in interviews doesn't work in real life.

    And the people who do interview you largely have no idea of what to look for or how to sort between the good and bad applicants.

    So they fall back into old sales cliches: 'Lots of energy, bubbly personality, charismatic, excellent communication skills, driven to succeed'

    This is literally what they are screening you for. The reality is that these things are meaningless by themselves.

    It's easy for her to judge you based on these qualities because they're easy to understand and are accepted AS TRUTH by 99% of sales recruiters. They aren't paradoxical or counter-intuitive, even though most of consultative selling is based on doing things that on surface, would appear to be going against your self-interest - which is exactly why it works.

    Forgive the lady, it's not her fault. Play along.. joke with her.. humour her.. then drop that shit once you get on the floor.
    Signature

    In a moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    • Profile picture of the author IneedProfit
      Sales is 99% about building rapport, trust and people buying from someone who they like. Most everyone has competition, and if the person doesn't like you, they will buy a similar product or service elsewhere.

      I would hire a people person before I would hire a person with vast knowledge of our products/services.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        Great point about hiring a people person over some one with product knowledge.

        The latter can be taught to any one but the former isn't always possible and sometimes goes against the very grain of who a person is.

        Originally Posted by IneedProfit View Post

        Sales is 99% about building rapport, trust and people buying from someone who they like. Most everyone has competition, and if the person doesn't like you, they will buy a similar product or service elsewhere.

        I would hire a people person before I would hire a person with vast knowledge of our products/services.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
    Matthew,

    People are responding to what you posted, not what you think you said.

    From your post:

    "If you are smiling, enthusiastic, outgoing.. maybe tell a story or two.. you will have a very hard time cold calling or selling face to face.

    If you are neutral, deadpan and logical.. you will make far more sales in real life..

    Your explanation below your original post put a different spin on it.

    Do you see the difference?
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    Sales is about finding what the prospect wants and allowing him to acquire it from you. The less said, the better. If you are in a sales position anything you say will be perceived as a lie.
    You are absolutely correct. The secret of my sales success, is that I simply refuse to say anything to my prospects. After all, everything I say will sound like a lie.
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  • Profile picture of the author digichik
    I once went on a interview for a position in sales. The interviewer didn't care about my past experience, education or anything else on my resume.

    In order for her to find out if I could sell, and more importantly close, she treated the interview as a sales appointment. The interview amounted to me having to sell her and close her on hiring me. I closed her and I got the job.
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    • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
      Originally Posted by digichik View Post

      I once went on a interview for a position in sales. The interviewer didn't care about my past experience, education or anything else on my resume.

      In order for her to find out if I could sell, and more importantly close, she treated the interview as a sales appointment. The interview amounted to me having to sell her and close her on hiring me. I closed her and I got the job.
      I'm glad someone pointed this out. And while your interview was set up that way specifically what people fail to realize on both sides is that all interviews are sales.

      One of the reasons I ace most interviews is the fact I am good at selling. I also love myself so it's an easy product to sell.

      So my issue with Matthew's original post is that he is too worried about why they are interviewing him the wrong way and on the wrong criteria vs. closing the sale.

      The only reason I would care - and IMO anyone should care- about being interviewed based on the wrong criteria is what it says about the culture. If the culture isn't the right fit I don't want to work there.

      And of course in my mind the interview is often about selling me on working for them. They may not know that and may not be actively trying to. That doesn't matter because I tend to take control of interviews no matter which side of the desk I am on.

      Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

      If you are smiling, enthusiastic, outgoing.. maybe tell a story or two.. you will get the job.. but you will have a very hard time cold calling or selling face to face.
      I see no reason why someone outgoing would have a hard time selling face to face. A newbie who is an extrovert will always have a leg up vs. an introvert. But long term introvert vs. extrovert doesn't matter as sales is a skill. Same goes for cold calling.

      So if the sales environment is looking to turn and burn sales staff - like call centers do - it makes sense to hire extroverts or introverts who can pretend to be extroverts. That way it is about teaching them the script and how to sell not about teaching them how to talk to people.

      Most of my career has been in management - sales and retail - and I have found that hiring an introvert for a people position is an uphill battle not worth having.

      I'm not hear to teach you to talk to people. I am here to teach you how to talk to people in a way to sell more. Sounds the same to the untrained person but knowing the difference and hiring people who don't need the first is the best way to maximize training and minimize turnover.

      Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

      If you are neutral, deadpan and logical.. you will make far more sales in real life.. but you won't fit into her conceptual reality of what a good salespeople should sound like, and you won't get the job.
      And what do you base this on? I can explain how each could be an asset and a liability but this has to do with how the person uses them not the points themselves. I don't see these as positives or negatives. They are simply things I must be aware of.

      Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

      What works in interviews doesn't work in real life.
      This depends on the skill of the interviewer. I am personally confident that 99% plus I know how the interviewee will act in real world situations. The problem is that many people who do interviews are forced to use a script. Those scripts tend to suck in my experience.

      Couple that with people who are not good at reading people - #1 Interview Skill - and who have not been trained well and it leads to bad hires.

      Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

      And the people who do interview you largely have no idea of what to look for or how to sort between the good and bad applicants.
      Is the company successful? If so you are wrong and they clearly know what they are doing. You can judge the success of the interviewer from the people they hired. Walk into any store and you can tell how good the hiring and training process is. Get really good and you can tell rather it was the interviewer or training who is at fault.

      I don't mean any offense by this but that kind of line is soemthing I hear from people who can't seem to get hired anywhere. It is their way of stroking their ego. After all it can't be their fault they didn't get hired. It must be the interviewer who didn't know how to find the best candidate.

      I will say this with 100% certainty.... When it comes to hiring sales people the skill of the interviewer has little meaning. As long as the final hiring decision rests in the hands of someone with the ability to judge sales skill and potential that is.

      A bad interviewer is actually a good test of how well the interviewee can sell. After all not every customer will be a perfect fit. And not every customer will buy your products for the right reasons. Some customers may be completely looking for the wrong things.

      Successful Sales Professionals can overcome this and still make the sale. They can sell the prospect on what they want to buy not what they want to sell. And the truly great ones can do that while keeping those two things the same.

      It's like selling ice to Eskimos. They don't need or want ice. But a Great Sales Professional can find a need or want that they do have and sell them on how ice can fulfill that.

      So while the interviewer may want the smiley happy extrovert that doesn't matter. What matters is your ability to to sell them on why you (the product) is the right fit for someone who wants a smiley happy extrovert.
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by Aaron Doud View Post

        I see no reason why someone outgoing would have a hard time selling face to face. A newbie who is an extrovert will always have a leg up vs. an introvert. But long term introvert vs. extrovert doesn't matter as sales is a skill. Same goes for cold calling.
        Pretty well said. Yeah, being "back slapping, story telling, joking life of the party" seems like it would give you a big leg up in selling. But, in my experience, it's almost inconsequential. It doesn't hurt or help. I mean after the first week.

        Are they intelligent enough to learn how to sell?
        Do they have a decent work ethic?

        Then they should do well.

        One thing that hasn't been addressed is asking the interviewee "How did they treat you at your last job?"

        I want to find out if this person is a complainer or a loser....or takes responsibility for their own actions. And the answer to that question will give me a lot to go on. Why? Because two weeks from now, that's what he'll be saying about your company.
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        • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          Pretty well said. Yeah, being "back slapping, story telling, joking life of the party" seems like it would give you a big leg up in selling. But, in my experience, it's almost inconsequential. It doesn't hurt or help. I mean after the first week.

          Are they intelligent enough to learn how to sell?
          Do they have a decent work ethic?

          Then they should do well.

          One thing that hasn't been addressed is asking the interviewee "How did they treat you at your last job?"

          I want to find out if this person is a complainer or a loser....or takes responsibility for their own actions. And the answer to that question will give me a lot to go on. Why? Because two weeks from now, that's what he'll be saying about your company.

          We do something similar;

          ( Said in a questioning manner )

          I hear they treat people pretty rough over there ...

          (Purposefully left open ended. )
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  • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
    Aaron ... I think I am starting to develop a man crush on you
    ... Don't feel too special though ... Claude is still my #1

    Gigitty

    -- Edit --

    If you ever witnessed my interview process, you would think I am a bumbling dork.

    Bet your last dollar ... It is an act and it serves a purpose.
    People should remember ... perception is not fact.
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    Selling Ain't for Sissies
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