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7 Tips to Ace Your Software Sales Interview



Once your software sales resume finds its way into the hands of a recruiter or hiring manager, you may be one of the lucky candidates summoned for an interview. With so much competition in terms of human capital, there is more at stake for both job seekers and hiring companies in the interview process. But as a sales professional trying to lock down a job with better pay, more opportunity, or whatever else, you’ve got to focus on what you can do to get hired. Here are a few tips for acing your software sales interview.


7 Tips for Acing Your Software Sale Interview


  1. Dress to impress.

  2. Do your research on the company.

  3. Do your research on the job.

  4. Know your strengths and weaknesses.

  5. Memorize your metrics.

  6. Have a good story about yourself.

  7. Have a why.


Let’s look at these tips one by one and get some insight about how to implement them.


Dress to impress.


As much as 55% of a first impression is visual. That means the way you look, which includes the way you dress. True, there may be some companies that are chill with you showing up in flip flops and a tee you scored at the latest Dave Matthews Band concert, but in most cases you shouldn’t risk it. Lean toward a conservative look such as a collared shirt or blouse, slacks or a skirt, and a jacket. Examine your outfit the night before to make sure it’s clean and free of rips, wrinkles, and stains. You don’t need to wear a tuxedo (that would actually look odd), but you do want to look professional. Navy blue, grey, and black are colors you’ll want to consider...you can put away the bright red Hawaiian shirts. As it turns out, one of the most important people to impress with the way you dress is yourself; you’ll feel more confident and perform better at your interview if you feel good about the way you look.


Do your research on the company.


Invest some time looking at the company website. Read their “about us” section, and any bios that are posted on the site. See if there is any mention of the company in the news (it’s as easy as typing the company into Google and looking through the “news” results). If you are not familiar with the industry they serve, do some research on that as well. During your interview, you may be asked what you know about the company. The hiring manager is testing your level of commitment to the role you’re pursuing. A candidate who is not serious about getting any one job in particular won’t do research; they’ll take whatever comes their way. By contrast, a candidate who really wants to work somewhere will (a) have made sure it’s somewhere they want to work and (b) show that they are making calculated, serious moves.


Do your research on the job.


The recruiter may ask you to provide examples of what you would do in certain situations. They may role play a phone call with you, or describe a bottleneck that requires some managerial decision making. This is where your thorough understanding of the job itself will come into play. Read the job description until you’ve internalized it. Talk it out with a software sales recruiter you know and brainstorm any possible directions the conversation could go. If you can come to an interview prepared to answer questions about how you would handle a situation at your new workplace, you will score major points.


Know your strengths and weaknesses.


“Tell me your greatest strength” and “tell me your greatest weakness” are two common interview questions—and you will need to have good answers for both. Know what these answers are going to be before you go for your interview, and perhaps talk them over with a software sales recruiter you know. If you’re not prepared, you might accidentally share something immaterial that negatively impacts your interview, or you might highlight a skill that does not impress the hiring manager. Make sure your strength is relevant to the job, and provide an example of that strength at work. Conversely, when illustrating a weakness, try to pick one that is not relevant to the job at hand (if possible) and also be specific about its parameters, so that the hiring manager doesn’t turn ambiguity into doubt about your overall resume.


Memorize your metrics.


Sales metrics are a huge part of a written resume, and can set it apart from the others in the pack. However, when it comes to a verbal conversation, we often fudge the numbers or forget them entirely—after all, it isn’t conversational material. But remember that your interview is not a date. Sharing concrete numbers with the hiring manager illustrates that you are a reflective sales professional who analyzes your moves and is constantly improving your numbers. You take your job seriously and can illustrate your successes in a concrete way. You do not need to memorize the metrics of every year you’ve been in sales, but you should have 2-3 examples of numbers-based success that you can share.


Have a good story about yourself.


This does not mean you should have a good yarn about the biggest fish you ever caught (although if you are charismatic and can pull it off, that might be the clincher). This means you need to have a good excuse lined up about why you are looking for a new workplace, or why you left your old one. Do not lie, especially because the hiring manager may contact your old company. It can be very tricky to explain why you were let go, so if that’s part of your story, you should hash out appropriate responses with a software sales recruiter.


If you were not let go, but are actively seeking new employment while still employed, pay may come up in the conversation. You don’t want to price yourself out of a job, but you also don’t want to be bought cheaply. This is where a software sales recruiter might have some keen insights about how much a certain role pays and how to navigate that topic, because it will differ with each candidate’s situation.


Lastly, if you have been out of work, show that you have been either actively looking for work and/or engaged with something meaningful. That can be everything from pursuing a degree to taking care of your family to traveling the world and learning about new cultures or building affordable housing in third world countries. You just need to show that you are a purpose driven sales professional with values and a commitment to staying busy.


Have a why.


There’s a good chance the hiring manager will ask you why you want to work there. If you’re not prepared for this question, you won’t have a good answer. Alternatively, you may have an honest answer to this question that is not so conducive to getting hired—but that can be spun into a professionally acceptable response Yes indeed...you want to make more money! However, it might be better to say that you are looking to grow professionally.


Sometimes you will have an answer that genuinely does jive with what the company wants to hear. Perhaps you’ve been selling SaaS to banking institutions, and it just isn’t filling you with meaning. Maybe you really do want to enter EdTech because you think cool things are happening in the field of education and you want to be part of it. Maybe you’re looking for a respectful workplace that values collaboration and innovation. If that’s true, and your research has shown you that this company values that as well, don’t be afraid to say it!


The bottom line about your software sales interview...


These are all great things to keep in mind when preparing for a software sales interview. Remember that a tech company is viewing you as a potential investment, and they want to know that you are worth investing in. The main person you need to convince in that regard is the hiring manager—so acing your interview is an important step in that direction.


You might have noticed throughout these points that it was suggested you hash out our answers with a software sales recruiter. Such a recruiter has specific knowledge of the company and the industry you’re looking into, and can help you rehearse the answers that will get you hired.


I’ve been working with software sales professionals for several decades and am well aware of the ins and outs of what can make them stand out, and what hiring managers are looking for. Feel free to send me an email at mike@michaelblair.com to discuss how you can ace your next interview.

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