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Why selling is like a job interview

written by sales-i Marketing Team

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It’s a wet, miserable Tuesday morning and you’re on your way out of your house to solve a problem for the company you’re about to meet. You could be a salesperson about to meet a client or you could be dusting off that smart suit ready for your job interview. It doesn’t matter as both have the same purpose – you’re there to solve a problem.

Selling your product helps your client solve a business challenge whereas in a job interview you’re selling yourself to convince that you can solve the challenges that that role dictates.

So, what are the similarities between selling and a job interview?

Doing your homework
You did all that hard work getting to the interview stage for that job you really want and you’ve obviously researched the company, the people, processes, basically anything you can find out about that company. After all you’ll be spending a third of your life there!

Why would selling be any different? You’ve spent countless hours prospecting and nurturing your lead to the point of a one-to-one meeting, only to fall at the final hurdle because you didn’t do any research. Find out what you can and impress them with your knowledge as it may just help you win the sale.

Which leads me on to…

First impressions
Studies show that first impressions are made in the first 17 seconds of meeting someone and can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo. A first impression will set the tone for the relationship that follows.

So, what are the similarities between selling and a job interview?

Firstly, dress smart, nobody wants to employ or do business with a scruffy hobo! Secondly, be professional but show your individual characteristics and thirdly, be knowledgeable (as mentioned above) and show that you’ve got an interest in the person you’re meeting.

Building rapport
If you’ve made a great first impression at the interview stage, you’re likely to continue your dialogue and start building rapport. A stronger rapport leads to increased information sharing and, (because you’re pretty damn awesome), you’re ‘likability’ factor will go through the roof.

Selling is the same, it’s built on strong relationships with your customers. A good relationship will allow you to get one foot in the door and allow you to ask more personal questions and create a sense of loyalty.

At the end of the day we’re all human and we’re accustomed to conversations and getting along with people. Use this to your advantage.

Ask questions
It may sound simple but the best way to understand what a customer’s needs are or what a job entails is to ask a lot of questions.

The discovery stage of any sales meeting or interview is what’s going to dictate your next move. Why should that person choose you over somebody else? What makes you unique? What value do you bring?

The questions you’d ask at an interview or client meeting are in the same ball park. You’re trying to extract information that gives you an idea of the culture, current challenges and whether you or your product is suitable for that company.

However, choose your questions wisely as one that’s to the point, relevant and thought-provoking can yield informative insights from the customer or interviewer. But, the same applies the other way around, if your question is too generic or requires a yes or no answer, you’re unlikely to extract the information you need.

A great way to unearth more information is to use additional probing questions or actions such as go on…, and…, why? Etc.

The close
You’ve made it to the end of the interview, you’ve set a good first impression, you’ve built rapport and you’ve asked the right questions. Now’s the time to close the interview and be awarded that job. A simple question could be the all-important one such as, would you like me to work for your company?

You’ll either get a yes or no answer, but either way you know exactly where you stand. If yes, then it’s mission accomplished. If no, then you can use what you’ve learned and move on to the next opportunity.

Making a sale follows the same process. You need to go in for the kill at the end of the meeting to create an order. Again, this could be a simple question such as, how many units shall I put you down for? A question like this makes it difficult for your customer to say no.

However, if they do say no, you can take guidance from the job interview scenario by taking what you’ve learned from the meeting and applying it to the next opportunity that arises.

Incredibly, 67% of salespeople fail to hit their monthly targets. This article explains how you can create a more effective sales team.

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