As of 2018, an estimated 977,000 UK professionals were employed in the sales or marketing industry, the peak number on record in the last eight years. This diverse and dynamic job sector includes business-to-business (B2B), retail or ecommerce, outbound telesales, customer service, advertising, and media or pharmaceutical sales.
With versatile career options and plenty of room to advance, grow and expand, you’re on the right track if you’re looking for a career in sales. As you look to move into this space, or simply find a new company where you can flex your seasoned sales skills, use these tips to land the role.
Hone the Skills that Recruiters Value Most
Regardless of the industry you’re in, there are a number of skills that are necessary for every salesperson to have. As such, sales recruiters see certain skills as more valuable than others when assessing a potential candidate, many of which are considered “soft skills.” Soft skills are less technical and more interpersonal, making them harder to teach and therefore more important to have.
Based on research from Graduate Prospects, a recruitment organization that partners with the UK Higher Education Career Services Unit, here are the most important soft skills for sales employees to demonstrate:
- The ability to maintain a confident, tenacious and positive attitude with customers
- The resilience to communicate with passion and conviction in the face of rejection
- The power to actively listen to customers and understand how to meet their needs
- The authenticity to build a sense of trust, connection and rapport with other people
- The entrepreneurial spirit and continuous motivation to progress and self-improve
Prepare for Interview Questions in Advance
A major component of sales is knowing how to pitch yourself, and this starts in the interview process. Before you can incentivise customers to make a purchase, you need to convince a potential employer that you’re the best candidate for the role.
It’s important to walk into the interview self-assured and equipped with the answers to potential questions. As with a sales interaction, this shows that you’ve done your homework and prepared as well as you could. While you don’t want to come across as rehearsed or disingenuous, practicing in advance will help you answer questions thoroughly and without stumbling.
Start by reading through these real interview questions, from real sales interviews, compiled by Glassdoor users. Don’t forget to prepare for potential non-sales questions, as well. Check out this list of the 50 most common interview questions, which includes:
- What is your dream job?
- What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
- Discuss your resume.
- Describe yourself.
- Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
- Why should we hire you?
- Why are you looking for a new job?
- Would you work holidays/weekends?
Finally, prepare for the more challenging questions, like those addressing your salary requirements. If you don’t have a number in mind, research average salary and commission ranges before.
Grow Your Proficiency on Digital Platforms
While direct, in-person retail still tends to be the preference for most consumers, the UK ecommerce industry has accelerated rapidly with a 14.9 percent growth rate in 2018 and a revenue of almost £96 billion, according to eMarketer. This means your next sales role may require you to have digital sales experience and proficiency on digital platforms.
If you don’t have this experience yet, now is the time to start learning and practicing with online sales tools that you may be required to use in your new job. Saleshacker suggests a few tools that are commonly used in online sales:
- Account-based sales tracker
- Communication and conferencing software
- Contract lifecycle management
- Email management
- Lead generation and prospecting
- Sales and market intelligence
Use online learning platforms and familiarize yourself with brand name tools and how they work. Being able to speak about these tools in your interview shows that, even if you’ve never used them, you’ve done professional development to prepare.
Get a Job in Sales
Whether you have an established background in this field or are a novice, you can build a career in sales—but don’t let that next job slip through your fingers. Prepare for your interview, learn some new technology, highlight your customer service experience and walk out with a new lucrative job in sales.