There are a number of practical things you can do before attending interviews for sales jobs. Most sales recruiters (interviewers) will be looking for evidence that you are committed to embarking on a career in sales, and you’ll be marked down if you cannot show any of the following.
In conducting these preparations, you will give yourself valuable insights into sales as a career (you might decide it’s not for you after all!), and you’ll be better able to acquit yourself well at interview and win a good job offer.
Read books about the subject! There are countless books available in your local library and bookshops, and if you want a recommendation, visit our bookshelf where in conjunction with our partners Amazon Ltd you will be able to view and buy books online.
Shadow a representative. You might be able to put you in touch with someone, or you might know someone yourself, whom you could ask to spend a day or two with. Alternatively, you could call one or two of the large drug companies and explain your situation, and ask for the name of their representative in your area. Write to them in person, asking if you can shadow them for a day, and offering to buy them lunch. Most reps will be pleased to have company and will be delighted with a free lunch. Many drug companies offer a ‘bounty’ to their employees who introduce candidates for sales jobs, so this could represent both an opportunity for the rep to earn some money, and for you to get a job quicker than you thought!
Do some sales work. In most areas, you can get sales work in shops and pubs. It’s also possible to obtain part-time work with direct sales companies (home improvements, finance, holiday companies, selling over the telephone directly to homeowners). The work is usually commission-only, but it’s easy to get in (don’t say you only want the job for a short while!), the training is often excellent, and although the work can be somewhat routine, you can actually earn quite a lot of money. This really will help you to answer that “why a sales career” question!
Prepare a ‘brag file’ to show people at interviews. This is a compilation about all your successes in life, including all your exam certificates, and any evidence of your success in life, in any field whatsoever. It could include letters of commendation, or thanks from grateful customers or other people, or cuttings from newspapers showing how you saved a dog from drowning, for example.
As a principle, you should maintain this throughout your working life, and add to it constantly. Whenever you do well or obtain someone’s approval, ask them to put something in writing, so you can include it in your file.
Talk to people you know who are involved in sales, in any way. Especially if you are related to people who work in this field, interviewers like to hear that you have a reasonable understanding of what to expect and if you have a close relative involved in sales, that you have regarded that person as a rôle model.
Be prepared to answer the questions:
What do you know about sales? and
What have you done to prepare for a career in sales?
What made you decide why a sales career is for you?