“Describe your sales experience?”
“Tell me more about your sales experience.”
“How many years of experience do you have in sales?”
Your employer will have questions concerning your selling experience to assess your ability to do the sales role you’re applying for.
How you choose to respond is going to make or break your interview. It’s going to secure or lose you that dream sales position.
Obviously, you need to demonstrate you have the sales skills that make you the right fit for their company. But the question is how do you develop these skills and prove them to the interviewer? And how do you still land the job if you don’t have any previous experience?
Only one way to find out… keep reading.
First and Foremost, What Counts as Sales Experience?
Sales experience is a summary of your history of selling products or services to other people. It indicates the level of your soft and hard skills as a salesperson.
The concept of sales experience isn’t very complicated. For instance, if you ever sold a pen to your friend as a kid, you have sales experience. This is because you proved to your friend buying the pen would make their life more accessible than before, successfully convincing them to give you their money.
Of course, this won’t hold up when applying for sales jobs.
Your sales manager will want a more fitting sales experience resume, which is why you’ll need traditional sales experiences. This can be you working as a cashier at a retail store or acting as the account manager for a local business.
Here are a few more sales experience examples:
- Real estate broker
- Insurance agent
- Product promoter or demonstrator
- Owning a travel agency
If the above descriptions don’t fit the bill, no biggie. We’ll tell you how to get some.
3 Effective Tips To Get Sales Experience
Despite popular belief, getting sales experience isn’t that complicated. All you need is determination and be open to starting from scratch.
Below, we’ve compiled some practical ways to get experience and begin developing your professional skills.
1) Sign Up for a Sales Course
If you have the means to sign up for a sales course, webinar, or training program, we highly recommend doing it right away. Each option is an excellent way to get sales experience to make a good impression on the hiring manager.
A sales course or training program gives you a platform to learn the basics of effective selling and engage in various sales activities, such as role-playing and grievance handling, to become a more seasoned sales professional. You also get the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them and build actionable skills that can help you further your career.
After completing a business to business sales training course like the Selling Made Simple Academy you’re going to better understand –
- The modern B2B sales process
- Communication skills
- How to develop customer relationships
- Specific sales tools
Another advantage here is the chance to make professional connections in the sales field that can again help you land a better sales job in the future.
2) Read a Good Sales Book
The good thing about sales representative roles is you’ll find several experts eager and willing to share their advice and relevant sales experience with the world. Most of them have written sales books that detail effective selling strategies and contain genuinely good advice to help you become a successful professional.
The popular sales books are generally centered around specific types of sales philosophies, such as SNAP selling or MEDDIC selling, as well as more general topics like the psychology of closing deals or building sales influence.
Wether you’re looking at a sales development representative role or even a regional sales manager job, there will be a book for you.
There is a lot to learn when it comes to sales, and getting your hands on best-selling sales books can be your shortcut to selling success.
3) Get a Sales Job
A surefire way (and most obvious) way to get sales experience is getting a sales job. You get to engage with real-life customers, learn the art of selling yourself, make contacts and have good conversations — all while getting paid.
Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?
That said, you don’t have to get a sales job at a large firm. Instead, you can start smaller in a retail position, where you can interact with customers and slowly make your way up to different positions to gain experience and skills.
How to Answer “Describe Your Sales Experience” Interview Question
Once you get the required sales experience, you will have to convince the hiring manager you’re indeed a good fit for the job.
Here are a few tips to help you prove your selling potential and expertise:
A) Structure Your Answer Carefully
Your answer should highlight relevant skills, experiences, and achievements from previous jobs.
Emphasis on “relevant.”
Your interviewer only needs to know information that’s directly connected to the job—nothing else. So keep your response brief and to the point to maintain their attention and not waste time. Try to finish your answer by describing your goals related to the sales role and how you plan on contributing to the employer’s objectives.
The idea is to pitch yourself in a way that makes you an asset to the interviewer.
B) Emphasize Your Sales Achievements
Did you close more deals than your peers at your previous job? Or maybe you were awarded ‘The Best Salesman ‘title many times? Perhaps got a promotion within months of joining?
Be sure to highlight your achievements in previous roles. We kid you not; tell your hiring manager everything and in detail. They want to know more about your skills to determine whether you’ll be a good fit for the job.
What’s more, you should try to quantify these experiences and achievements when possible. For example, talk about the dollar amount of sales or the rate you grew the sales within a specific period to prove their value.
Alternatively, you can mention the number of accounts you’ve worked with to showcase your ability to manage multiple clients simultaneously.
C) Practice Your Response
At this stage, you should have a script describing your sales experience. Now, all that’s left is to practice and master it.
While you don’t have to memorize the script word for word, you do want to cover critical points you want to make. Plus, the more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel about what to say—and say it confidently.
Tips to Tackle the Sales Experience Question When You Have No Sales Experience
Everyone has to start somewhere.
Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t have any real-world sales experience—you can still land the job. Admittedly, it isn’t a walk in a park, but it’s possible if you follow the proper steps.
A) Make Your Existing Skills Relevant To the Job
Leverage your existing skills in a way that makes them relevant to the job you’re looking to get during the interview. For instance, if you’re working as a service rep, talk about how you have significant experience communicating with customers and handling their queries.
Remember, nobody has all the expected skills and experience listed in a job description. If you can demonstrate how your existing skills are transferable to the sales role in your resume, cover letter, and when answering interview questions, you can improve your chances of securing the job.
B) Avoid Common Interview Mistakes
To start off, don’t be late. Think about it: what would you say if you were late to a sales meeting with a prospect? What do you think your chances would be of closing that deal?
You also don’t want to show up unprepared. Treat the interview as a sales meeting, where you try to sell yourself instead of a product or service. Find out all key details about the company you’re applying to, and if possible, the person who will be taking your interview.
C) Leverage Your Network
Networking can be beneficial to start your sales career when you have little to no experience.
If you’ve taken a professional sales course, you might already have professional connections with leaders and teachers who may be aware of sales opportunities and can put in a word for you. We also recommend using LinkedIn and attending industry-relevant events, where you can network with other sales leaders and build connections.
D) Apply To Businesses That Offer Training Programs
Businesses know many applicants are starting from square one. That’s why they’re open to hiring people with limited sales experience and offer training programs for beginners.
Try to apply for jobs at these companies. This way, you can learn on the job, get the necessary experience you’re looking for, and move up within the same company once the program ends.
Want to learn more tips to secure a higher-paying and fulfilling sales job? Get started here and learn the latest selling tips and tactics to become a better sales professional.