When you’re trying to make a sale, the questions you ask can help you uncover buyer needs and desires, connect with them, and demonstrate your expertise. And when you’re interviewing for a sales role the questions you ask can help you uncover the company’s needs and desires, connect with them, and demonstrate your expertise (see how that works?).

Sure – how you answer their questions matters but asking thoughtful leading questions can help you really stand out from the crowd. Don’t just wing it or ask generic questions like, “Can you tell me a little more about the company?”

To impress your interviewers and make sure the company is the right fit, prepare potential questions beforehand.  Here are a few thought starters to get the ball rolling.

How much time do you usually spend cultivating current customer relationships versus finding new clients?

In startups, customer relations and finding new clients are typically handled by the same person initially, and that person will likely be you. As the company grows, these roles will begin to separate and become their own role. However, it is important to know how the company expects you to split this time.

Has the company already established a way it likes to build a relationship with a prospect?

Companies may already have a pipeline to potential customers or they may have a specific way they want you to go about attracting customers or it could be up to you or a new sales leader to figure this out. Asking about this process will give you key insights on how they do business and show them that you have an eye for the big picture.

Are there guidelines when it comes to researching prospects before a call or meeting?

When it comes to finding clients, companies may have certain guidelines on who are viable prospects and how to approach them. This can be for a number of reasons including liability, code of conduct, or just maintaining the brand. It is important to ask about this to see if you fit into their style.

If I were hired for this position, what would be my goals for my first month?

When first getting hired, you should try and see what your new company’s expectations are as you are still getting accumulated. This varies on a company-by-company basis especially when it comes to startups. Stretch goals are great for pushing performance, but you also want to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure by committing to an impossible goal.

In your experience/opinion, how does the company differentiate itself or brings value to the customer?

Pay close attention to how your interviewer answers this question. A clear and definite answer shows that the company has created its own avenue in the market and is a really good sign for the life of the company. If they leave you with more questions than answers it might be time to check out other opportunities. How are you supposed to sell the company if they can’t?

What are some steps you can take to have a positive company culture?

This is a twist on the stereotypical company culture. This forces the interviewer to describe what they do as a company to keep their employees happy, motivated, and together. It is important to address the company culture as you will be working at this place for the next portion of your life. 

Describe a time when you had an in-house issue and how did you resolve it? 

Conflict happens within a company because everyone has different viewpoints even if they’re slight. It is important to know how they handle issues as (hopefully not) you may need to know where to go to resolve an issue. Also, this is another indicator of company culture and how upper management connects with the employees. 

How do you consistently identify your target market and how do you maintain your market share?

This is what we call a twofer but both questions are equally important to address. The world (and the markets) are ever-evolving and it is important for companies to understand and be able to adapt to those changes accordingly. This can bring insight into the quality of the company. 

What are your rules, in terms of pursuing a client?

This is more of a sales or marketing-focused question. A company may have a set of rules when it comes to engaging with a customer. Also, it may determine how it pursues a customer based on the company’s sales process and sales cycle. You can learn a little about both from this question.

How does your company handle personal growth? 

Personal Growth within a company is always important to maintain motivation and to make sure your skill set is being utilized to the fullest. Companies might have a set, rigid growth pattern where you advance from one position to another in a hierarchical structure. Some may have a more flattened structure where every position is equal within limited staff above them. Startups may offer you more equity, instead of advancing positions.  

Why asking questions matters?

Asking the right questions in an interview can enhance your chances of getting the job. They help you learn more about the company you’re interviewing with and help you decide if it’s a place you want to work. They also show interviewers how you prepare for important meetings and what they can expect from you.

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