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Sales Manager: Interview Questions and Answers

Sales Manager: Interview Questions and Answers
When interviewing for a sales manager position, there are many questions the employer will ask to determine if you have the right skills to manage a sales team and how you handle yourself in this high-pressure job. There will be questions regarding your leadership style in addition to questions that focus specifically on sales and team management.
In this article, we provide examples of sales manager interview questions with suggestions on how to answer them.

Q. What do you like most about sales?

Employers like to ask this question to see how motivated you are in sales and in leading a team. A sales job takes a lot of motivation and a sales manager is usually the one who provides that motivation to the team. You will want to answer the question with enthusiasm and give an example of a time when you were motivated.
Example: “My favorite part about sales is helping a customer find the right product or service to help them with their biggest needs. To me, this is the most rewarding and best part of the job. I also really enjoy the team camaraderie aspect of it. We all work together toward a common goal, and it feels great when we work hard to achieve those goals. In my last job, we needed to sell five more units of the product to break the sales record of the previous month. We all gathered together, decided that if we were successful, we would get a nice lunch at the end of the week to celebrate. We not only broke the record, but we exceeded it by ten. Our celebratory lunch was so much fun, and I really enjoyed figuring out what would motivate my team to reach that level.”

Q. How would you manage a team and manage your schedule?

This question gets asked a lot by employers who are trying to figure out your management skills. Keep in mind your organizational skills when answering this question.

Example: “I’m all about priorities and lists. I would look at the priorities in a day, week, month and year segments and then figure out the best way to tackle them. I’d use some teaming application where I can see our whole team's schedule and upcoming tasks as a whole. Then I would have a daily or at least weekly discussion with my team to look at our deadlines. This way, I would be able to discuss with my team what needs to happen, and we would work together to shift priorities around, and each of us tackle things one by one.”

Q. Tell me about a time you failed to meet your sales goals. How did you handle it?

This is a behavioral interview question, which assesses your behavior in the workplace by placing you in specific situations with others. When answering this question, think of a few examples and pick the one that shows your growth as a leader. You can craft your response using the STAR technique, which stands for situation, task, action and result.
Example: “During the last business quarter in my previous position, I just needed to make two more sales to meet my quota. I made a lot of phone calls that day, but no one was buying. I was pretty upset at the end of the day, but I went to my supervisor so that we could talk through it. She understood that you won’t be able to make any sales on some days, which helped me more easily accept my position.
We discussed what may have gone wrong during my sales calls and if any potential customers didn’t want to buy today. Then we came up with a plan on how to tackle my goals the next day and updated those goals to try to account for those two sales I needed. Talking with her calmed me down and my hope as a sales manager is that my team will be comfortable enough with me to talk through things that don’t always go their way.”

Q. How have you stayed motivated in a remote world?

Interviewers ask this because: Many, if not most, sales teams are currently hybrid or fully remote. And what we’re hearing is that the majority will continue to operate at least in a hybrid environment for the foreseeable future. The tough truth is that working remote in a sales role is challenging. You lose the energy from being together with peers, you lose overhearing what’s working on someone else’s call, you lose the celebration from the team when someone finally picks up. So interviewers want to know either that you thrive in that environment, you’ve found a way to make it work for you, or you have a plan for it. How to answer: Think about what tools you use to connect with people: Zoom or another video software, Slack or another chat software? Think about the rituals that help you feel connected to your teammates: regular happy hour or coffee chat? Rotating catch-up soons? Coworking with peers in your area? Think about what motivates you: recognition? Achieving goals? Financial incentives? Example answer: “Before I jump into my work day, it’s important that I take care of myself first. Instead of rolling out of bed and opening my laptop, I give myself ample time to get ready for the day, do something I enjoy (reading, journaling, walking), and set intentions for the day. I prioritize refreshing myself during the day as well so that when I’m working, I’m truly focused and bringing my best self to work.”

Q. What made your best manager your best manager? Interviewers ask this because:

They want to know if they’ll be able to offer you a situation where you can thrive. How to answer: Be specific! Name one or two specific things your manager did to help you reach your goals at work. Maybe they set aside time to help you develop a new skill, frequently gave helpful feedback, or never let a win go unrecognized. Think about what matters most to you and let it shine through in your answer.

Q. What technology are you using to support your sales efforts today?

Interviewers ask this because: They want to see the overlap between the team’s current tech stack and what you’re accustomed to. This will help them get a sense of onboarding and training needed, as well, should the interview process move forward. How to answer: Do not share every single software you’ve ever used. Just focus on sharing the core sales tech that has made the biggest impact on how you do your job. It’s ok if your answer is just a few items long, don’t feel pressured to give a lengthy answer here.

Q. Can you please tell us more about your previous working experience?

This is an icebreaker question in many job interviews. Not in this one though. Experience matters for senior managerial roles, and questions about your previous experience are actually the most important questions in this interview.
You should talk about your managerial and leadership experience. But do not say just what jobs you had, and what you did. Talk about achievements, impact you had on the business of your former employer.
At the end of the day, numbers matter for the decision makers. In your former managerial roles, did you manage to increase the sales by 10%? 50%, maybe 100%? Or did you find entirely new markets for the products of your employer?
Did you hire great sales team, or (if you managed a store), did the place and the employees thrive under your leadership? And if they thrived, how did it translate into tangible goals and numbers for your employer?
There are the things that matter for the interviewers. It is not important whether you managed a small team or store, or perhaps a big one. As long as you demonstrate that you made some positive difference in that place, benefiting from your excellent management skills, they will be impressed.

Q. What do you know about our company (stores, products)?

You cannot effectively manage anything unless you know it throughout. And you should know it pretty well-not only their business, but also their competitors, market trends, what’s going on in the industry, and what will likely happen in five years from now, the future trends.
Do your research, and do not limit yourself to checking the website of the corporation. Check individual locations of the stores/sales teams. If you can find their financial statements online (in many countries, companies are obliged to share them publicly), go through them, check the numbers, find ares for improvement.
Once you know a lot about them-where they stand at the moment, what they try to achieve, who their main competitors are, you can actually come up with a vision. You can present this vision in an interview, explaining where you’d like to take the stores or sales or sales teams, within the region you’ll be responsible for. Each hiring manager will be impressed with such an answer.
At the end of the day, you should also praise them for something. Find something that resonates with you, or something they do really good. Can be their product, level of customer service, reputation of the company, marketing efforts, anything. You can even point it out as one of the reasons why you decided to apply for the job with them.

Q. How do you plan to motivate your subordinates, the sales representatives, to try harder and to always achieve better results?

You probably have your experience, and know how to motivate people from the sales team. But you should not talk only about bonuses and holiday vouchers for people who break the sales records… Because while you always can motivate people with money, and it is definitely important to have a clear structure of rewards in place, in each sales team, you should not limit yourself to such strategy of improving the motivation of your employees.
Try to talk about something different. Perhaps trying to hire the right people at first place, people who’d fit well the team and the company culture, people who are driven to sell big and earn big.
Then you can talk also about building the right atmosphere in the team, team building events, having regular one on one meetings with your salesmen, trying to understand them better, and motivate them accordingly, and so on.
Of course the motivation will waver in your team. Low periods and series of bad weeks belong to each sales job. But as long as you manage to help your employees get over the low periods, without quitting, better days will certainly come, and you will all make a bank…

Q. What’s the difference between a short sales cycle and a long one?

Short and long cycles require very different approaches and a good sales rep should know the difference. The most important quality for someone in a short sales cycle is the ability to close quickly. For longer sales cycles, good sales reps should take a more strategic and individually tailored approach.

Q. Tell me about a time you faced a lot of rejections. How did you persevere?

Rejection is an inevitable part of sales. Great sales reps are driven, resilient, and creative. Look for professionals who don’t give up and who are able to adjust their strategies until they find something that works.

Q. How do you incorporate content and social media into your sales strategy?

The ability to create relevant and engaging content and have an active presence on social channels is increasingly important in modern sales environments. Even if they don’t have experience, good candidates should be willing to experiment.

Q. What personality traits should a Sales Manager possess?

“The traits of a perfect sales manager: loyalty (first to the customer, then the company, then the sales force), consistency, empathetic, and should be process-oriented.”

Q. What is the difference between ‘managing’ and ‘leading’ which one is more important?

“Usually managing and leading are misunderstood as words with the same meaning. Whereas in reality there’s a border line between the two; managing refers to management of the task or work usually conducted by the manager, while on the other hand leading is a broad term used to refer to one who has the responsibility of leading or directing the workforce on the path to achievement of certain goals. Managers are the brains of any business whereas leaders are the hearts. Managers do things right whereas leaders does the right things.”

Q. How do you manage solving conflicts within your sales team?

“As a manager I always prefer to remain calm, Let the others have their say. Than considering their issues in depth in order to work out a possible solution.”

Q. Describe sales-teamwork; how did you handle your team challenges?

Consider possible answer to these questions; select the most impressive. Consult with colleagues and friends, prepare and rehearse your responses so that you make smooth presentation. Sound positive and confident; prepare to share some telling experiences. If you have pertinent volunteer experience, relate one as well. Remember that the same qualities needed for a sale manager can be utilized to ensure you a job offer as well!

Q. Did you set up sale targets for your staff?

“Yes I always set sales targets for sales staff because it will help them work towards the achievement of predetermined path leading to an efficient and a productive working environment.”

Q. What are some of the typical key tasks of a sales Manager?

“The typical tasks of a sales manager are to resolve customer complaints regarding sales and service, monitor customer preferences to determine focus of sales efforts, direct and coordinate activities involving sales of manufactured products, services, commodities, real estate or other subjects of sale, determine price schedules and discount rates, Review operational records and reports to project sales and determine profitability.”

Q. Do you arrange any training programs for your staff development?

“Yes I have conducted many training sessions for counselling weak staff to help them to enhance their skills and abilities so that they can contribute more effectively towards organization’s success.”

Q. What selling techniques will you suggest?

“For a sales person Optimism and enthusiasm should be always there. Negativity has no place in sales. Those sales people who think outside the box and take it upon themselves to thoroughly learn the product or service will be better equipped to confidently tackle questions. Consumers value transparency, so honesty and integrity rank highly in the list of desired sales traits. One of the most effective sales techniques is to develop a trusted relationship with your leads and customers. Every successful salesperson has a specific closing strategy that works for her. Whether appealing to a customer’s emotional triggers or confidently answering questions and dispelling doubts, finding and tweaking a closing strategy that works is one of the most vital parts of selling. Establishing a rapport with your customer will enable you to find out what your customer’s needs and wants are and will help you analyse his decision making process.”

Q. What is it about sales you enjoy?

Say that you enjoy the challenge of speaking to new customers and closing a deal. For you, the best thing about sales is the knowledge that you can turn people who are interested in a product into buyers.

Q. Why do you feel now is the right time to move to a sales manager position?

Answer that during your career in sales you have had many opportunities to train and guide others and have come to learn that you can add more value to a team by sharing your experience and techniques than by working alone. Say that you feel now is the right time to make a move to managing a sales team.

Q. How do you feel you would handle the extra demands placed upon you as a manager?

Say that you are confident that given the opportunity you will thrive in this environment. You are eager to show what you can bring to the team and to pass on your experience and knowledge to the younger members of the sales team.

Q. Have you any previous management experience?

Say that although you have not worked as a manager you have had the opportunity to stand in when managers are absent to run a team. You always enjoyed these opportunities and from this realised that management is the course you wish to take.

Q. How would you create a competitive but positive atmosphere in your sales team?

Say that you would set up some internal competitions with prizes based on sales targets. The prizes would be given at group events, such as a monthly team meal.

Q. What do you know about our target audiences? How would you sell to them?

Here you need to do some research on the company before the interview. Read their annual reports, their website and advertising material. This should provide details of who they are targeting. Make it clear that you have done your research and suggest a brief sales strategy.

Q. How would you deal with a subordinate who has not been meeting sales targets?

Managing sales reps’ performance is one of the very responsibilities for which you will be hired. If you can’t even perform this duty effectively, then you may not appear to be a good fit for this role.
If a sales rep is not meeting sales targets, you need to carefully assess their performance. Where is it that they may be going wrong? Here, as a sales rep, you may need to step up and point out the glitches in your subordinates’ approach. Help them correct their method of operating.
When this also doesn’t work, having that uncomfortable conversation with your subordinate is the only solution.

Q. How do you carry out sales forecasts?

Here, the interviewers want to know if you are well-versed with the latest techniques and processes for sales forecasting. In sales, making data-backed decisions is crucial and pretty much the norm. Ideally, sales forecasts should be driven by data. Maybe you can elaborate on how you conducted sales forecasts in your previous role. This will leave a good impression on your interviewers.


The reason an interviewer asks this question during a sales interview is simple: they want to know that you can work on your own without someone micromanaging your every move.
In our experience, we’ve seen some sales require deep statistical research to earn the trust of technically sophisticated clients. An employer wants to be confident that you’re not going to get overwhelmed when researching a market’s complexity.
• Highlights your familiarity important prospecting tools like LinkedIn
• Shows you research prospects on a personal, professional and company level
• Demonstrates how you weave that research into a sales conversation


Along those lines, a lucrative sales position requires that you know what you’re talking about. Part of your repertoire needs to be the essential benefits of the company’s product.
An employer wants to see that you took the initiative and researched the product you’ll sell before you even stepped into the office. It shows you care about giving accurate information to clients, not bland sales pitches that rarely work.
• Speaks to your research on the company’s products, services and customers
• Focuses on the customer’s pain points and needs rather than your own
• Mentions multiple use cases to show you understand different customer needs


Sales techniques differ based on how the relationship goes with a client. There will be moments when you need to rely on instincts, but at other times, your training and education will work best.
Employers want to know that you can be flexible and adjust your methods client-to-client, especially when under pressure. They won’t know if you’re good at it until they dig into how you approach problem-solving.
• Prioritises questions that determine whether a prospect is a good fit
• Explains the rationale behind picking these questions
• Stresses the importance of tailoring your response to a client’s answer


Success in a sales job depends on not giving up when prospects express reservations. After all, it’s only natural to be skeptical of a sales pitch. The general idea of this question is to see how tenacious you are while still respecting a prospect’s comfort level after repeated contacts.
At Uvaro, we teach our graduates when to stop pursuing clients and avoid using “hard” sales tactics.
• Establishes a clear line between perseverance and pushiness
• Shows you recognise signs that prospects aren’t likely to buy
• Puts a limit on the number of attempts before you waste too much time
TIP: While each product and industry is different, most sales take five follow-up calls to close - and 60% of customers will say “no” four times before saying “yes”. Some experts suggest the sweet spot is somewhere between six and eight attempts to contact a client before moving on.


This question is all about seeing whether you can maintain a positive attitude when things go wrong. If sales were an easy discipline, anyone could do it.
When faced with adversity, a salesperson’s disposition can derail a deal that’s nearly closed but not yet completed. Employers need to see that you’re going to approach setbacks with a positive mindset, not an adverse, knee-jerk reaction.
• Defines what a “hard day” means to you (with an example)
• Shares one or two stress-busting strategies you use to keep moving
• Explains important lessons you’ve learned from your bad days


In sales, it’s a mistake to assume that a product is a good fit for each prospect. Sometimes, the ethical choice is to suggest that they turn elsewhere because the last thing you want to do is push a product that won’t work for the client.
Employers need to see how you’ll respectfully handle this particular situation and why you chose to turn the prospects away. Even though the product wasn’t right for the client, that doesn’t mean that their positive experience won’t lead to referrals from new prospects.
• Acknowledges that sometimes it’s okay to turn prospects away
• Highlights what makes a customer a good fit - and what doesn’t
• Talks through what you’d say to a prospect in this situation


Of all questions listed in this article, this question is by far the most critical. But it isn’t easy to see it coming when it’s asked in the middle of the conversation.
At Uvaro, we show our graduates that it’s standard practice for a prospect to show skepticism. Your interviewer knows this too, and will want to see that you can handle difficult situations - and difficult people - without losing composure or taking things personally.
• Explains the situation clearly - without letting emotions get in the way
• Outlines the steps you took to address the prospect’s pain points
• Builds toward a positive result that you’ve carried forward to other situations


This isn’t a trick question; it shows that you know the difference between two very important sales metrics - and how to balance them. You could satisfy every customer you contact but still miss your quota.
Depending on the product that you’ll sell, customer satisfaction may take precedence over sales targets. But if you researched the company well enough, you’ll already know what the company values most.
• Considers what you’ve discovered about the company’s priorities
• Differentiates between making customers happy and giving them what they need
• Offers a logical, well-reasoned rationale that weighs the merits of both sides


At this point, the interviewer most likely has decided whether your personality is a good fit. This question confirms what they’re seeing if previous employers had the same impression.
• Focuses on adjectives that align with team and company values
• Is specific, pulling from real feedback you’ve received
• Includes examples of those adjectives in action


Don’t be negative if you’re asked this question, even if the company you worked for had severe problems with morale and culture.
What your employer’s culture was like before you left is less important than how you lived within it. Should you be diplomatic, or should you get straight to the point? It all depends on how the interview has progressed up to this point.
• Talks about the kind of culture in which you thrive best
• Focuses on the positive ways you handled cultural shortcomings
• Avoids badmouthing or complaining about past employers


By any measure, this question is fair to ask during an interview. At Uvaro, we teach our students the fundamentals of sales, including the most common commission structures.
When asking this question, an interviewer is trying to see how you evaluate fairness on both sides to reach a result where everyone benefits.
• Shows you understand different kinds of compensation and commission structures in sales
• Ties into what you’ve learned about the company’s goals and priorities
• Walks through your thought process in arriving at a win-win scenario

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