The Secret to Interviewing Sales Reps: Sales Role Play Interviews
Interviewing for a sales role is always a nerve-racking time. I personally think those nerves are amplified for salespeople, as it is assumed that because you ‘sell’ you will be good at selling yourself.
In my experience, sales interviews are a linear process: “Tell us about yourself.” “Why are you interested in this role?” “What’s your experience?” “What would you like to know about us?’ And then, after interrogation, you’ll be invited back to present why you’d be good at the sales role, and how you propose to help the company hit its revenue targets.
During a sales interview for an SDR position, this presentation might be replaced with a ‘leaving a voicemail’ challenge. I’m not complaining about this interview process. I definitely think it has its place. But today I wanted to share my positive experience of using the Allego platform alongside sales role play in my interview here (shameless plug).
Why Use Sales Role Play During a Job Interview
Let’s start with the outcome. The whole point of using sales role play during a job interview is for the interviewer to get insight into the candidate’s current skill set and how receptive they are to being coached in the future. We practice what we preach and very much have a culture of coaching one another as much as possible! We firmly believe in a lifetime learning mindset, always fine-tuning, and developing new skills in our craft. Therefore, if someone isn’t coachable, this is a good time to flag it as it may become an issue later on.
When I interviewed here at Allego, I participated in a sales role play challenge (we call them Scenario Challenges). We used Allego to assess how coachable I am and to review my current sales skill set.
Firstly, we discussed coaching and why it is so important to have an ‘always learning’ mindset in a sales role.
Then we set the scene for the sales role play. We pulled up a LinkedIn profile of someone and used this as the start of our narrative. The story so far was Joe managed a team of 15, desk-based sales reps. He’d been in his role for six months. He’d visited our website that morning and downloaded content. My job was to call Joe, qualify the lead, and convert him to a prospect by booking a discovery call.
I took a couple of minutes to decide on my approach. And then I went into another room, and I used the dialler to call the ‘lead.’ We then ran through a full role-play conversation.
Analyzing the Sales Role Play Conversation
After the sales role play conversation, we then logged into the Allego platform and began analyzing my call.
I was asked questions such as:
- How did I think the call went?
- What did I think I did well?
- What would I change if I were to call again?
Then my interviewer gave their feedback, matching my own self-reflections but building on them with insights that you simply miss when assessing yourself.
We then went back into Allego. We looked at my Talk vs. Listening time, keywords used during the sales role play, the number of switches (how often the conversation goes back and forth between people), and listened back to a couple of key sections.
My interviewer advised me how I could position a couple of key areas of my call better (you don’t want to give too many actionable points all at once – they lose their impact), and I did another role play scenario.
Practice Makes Perfect: Sales Role Play, Take 2
Back into the room next door I went. I reminded myself of the key changes I needed to make, I loaded up the dialler, and I tried the sales role play again. This time, the call felt much more natural.
The improvements in my call were immediately noticeable, which is a great feeling!
I went back through the same questions again. This time it focused more on what it noticed I had worked on. The interviewer and I discussed the difference in calls. Then we went back into Allego to look at my insights. My Speaking vs. Listening ratio had dropped, my call had many more switches, and I’d stopped saying the word ‘cool’ (thank goodness).
The sales role play a great exercise to do during a job interview for both the candidate and the employer. I personally left feeling I understood how I would be managed and coached in the role. I also understood the supportive ‘safe’ coaching environment I would be joining. And I felt ultimately this was a place for me to really develop my sales skills.
For my interviewer, the sales role play exercises provided proof that under pressure, I could perform and accept constructive criticism and feedback, understand it, and immediately take action on it. In other words, I’m open to sales coaching.
I’m not sure you can get this level of confidence without using sales role play exercises as par of the sales interview.
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