How to Interview for a Sales Management Job

Wednesday Nov 20, 2013 by Gareth Goh - Content Marketing Specialist, InsightSquared

A resume is designed to display your past accomplishments in order to make your case for why you will maintain or improve upon, those past accomplishments with the new challenge of a new job. Therefore, while it is critical to be a visionary and be able to project what you will bring to the table at this prospective new sales management job, it is also essential to highlight some of your past sterling results, with the appropriate data and reports. Regaling your interviewer with buzzword-filled anecdotes of your past triumphs might sound exciting, but ultimately doesn’t communicate much. Instead, support your self-endorsement with sales performance metrics from your past that buttress your arguments for why you are the right person for this sales management job.

Here are the 5 most important sales metrics to discuss in light of your past performances at an interview for a new sales management job.

Conversions From Each Stage

An ill-fitting sales manager does not know how many opportunity stages they worked with previously. An adequate sales manager might know the number and name of each their opportunity stages. However, a sales manager that truly goes above-and-beyond knows their specific conversion ratios between each of their opportunity stages.

Sales Funnel Stages

Additionally, top sales managers can share meaningful sales coaching anecdotes supported by the data. For instance, at the beginning of their tenure at their previous job, the sales manager might have noticed that their team of reps struggled to convert between the second and third stages, suggesting perhaps poor lead qualification at the first stage or shoddy execution at the second stage. However, with his or her sales coaching efforts, that manager was able to improve conversion between those stages up to 82%.

Forecast Accuracy

What good is a sales forecast if it is done using a finger-in-the-wind approach that is ultimately inaccurate? Not a whole lot. Demonstrate the accuracy of your sales forecasts by walking them through your data-driven forecasting approach. Discuss your historical conversion ratios and how you applied that to your pipeline opportunities.

But don’t stop there. Go a step further by discussing some of the barriers and forecast killers that you factored into your projection. In your experience, opportunities with a significantly greater deal size than average were a lot less likely to close and were factored into your forecast. A certain lead source contributed greatly to your opportunity pipeline, yet historically proved to be a low-probability source. Certain opportunities languished in late stages, and you know that time kills all deals. Outlining these barriers will demonstrate your careful and considerate data-driven sales forecasting approach.

Pipeline Coverage Ratio

The long-held industry standard is that sales organizations need a 3x pipeline-to-quota ratio. But as a visionary and data-driven sales manager, you don’t need to adhere to age-old blanket one-size-fits-all approaches that aren’t necessarily accurate. Instead, show how you used your historical conversion rates to determine a truly accurate pipeline coverage ratio. With this information, you were able to not only provide sufficient pipeline coverage for your sales force at all times, but also set realistic stretch goals that were achieved.

Pipeline Trending / History

Sales managers are typically expected to help grow their companies through increased sales, and sales can only be increased by growing the pipeline over time and ensuring that reps have sufficient opportunities to work on.

Pipeline History

Telling your interviewer that you grew the pipeline substantially over the past six months is great. Showing them an actual trending chart of your growing pipeline by both value and opportunity count is that much more powerful. Additionally, detail the types of lead generation campaigns that you undertook to help grow the pipeline, while highlighting your strong efforts in improving sales and marketing alignment as part of this pipeline growth.

Inflow / Outflow

Inflow/Outflow

Another strong pipeline management report worth discussing at an interview for a sales management job is the Inflow / Outflow report detailing how your pipeline is changing over time. Demonstrate how this report was able to help you answer important questions in your previous sales management role, such as how your number of open opportunities changed over time. Another poignant question to ask yourself when your open opportunities are increasing if it’s because your reps were failing to close or if your marketing and prospecting teams simply did a better job of generating more pipeline.

Gareth Goh is a Content Marketing Specialist at InsightSquared. You can find this post, as well as additional content on the InsightSquared blog here. Stay tuned to @InsightSquared on Twitter for more great sales and marketing management and analytics content.

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