Preparing for a Sales Interview? Here’s How to Nail Your Mock Sales Pitch

You’ve made it past a phone screen with a recruiter and maybe you’ve had a discussion or two with the hiring manager for that sales role that you're after. Now, with a little guidance from your prospective employer, you are tasked with going in and wooing an audience in a mock sales pitch of the company’s offering. Nervous? Don’t be! Thousands of salespeople have gone through this exciting process to start their careers, including yours truly. Let’s look at three of the best ways you can prepare to go in a nail this pitch.

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How to do a Mock Sales Presentation:

1. When it comes to research, dive deeper  

It’s only natural to want to absorb as much information as possible about your prospective employer’s history, product/service offering, target market, and other generally available knowledge. Maybe they even gave you a cheat sheet. But challenge yourself to go deeper. You got to this stage in the hiring process because you’re enthusiastic, sound great on the phone, and look good on paper. Now is the chance to show off your research chops.[bctt tweet="Preparing for a mock #salespitch? Show off your research chops, says @dVencis #interview" username="StartupInst"]

Start with some of the macro trends in the market to which you’d be selling. In the security world for instance, we all know about massive data breaches happen at some of largest brands in the world. If I am a company with a lot of sensitive data (or quite frankly, any data) I don’t want to go the way of Target, Sony, or Yahoo. As a buyer, if a salesperson can show they know their stuff when it comes to the trends in my market (in this example, data security), I’m all ears.

A Startup Institute student of mine recently accepted a sales job offer with his dream company. One of the biggest reasons why he got the job was his demonstrated ability to do great research. They were simply blown away by his use of a real and relevant example in his pitch, as it made him stand out from other candidates. So, roll up your sleeves and think critically about your research—beyond simply knowing when Company X was founded and what their product suite is.[bctt tweet="My @StartupInst student got his #salesjob because of his great #researchskills, says @dVencis" via="no"]

2. Ditch the script

I’ll preface this tip be saying, you absolutely need to know the talking points on how your prospective employer positions their value to potential buyers.

That being said, take this chance to work your personality into your pitch. Maybe you’re going in with a slide deck to serve as a visual guide to your pitch. Still, DO NOT read each slide word for word. In fact, you should use as few words as possible on the deck. Your deck should simply bolster the story you are telling.

Ultimately, hiring managers don’t want to see how well you can regurgitate information. They want to see someone who can transfer their enthusiasm to others and tell a meaningful story. And that story is why it behooves the prospective buyer to invest in their product or service.

[bctt tweet="#Sales is simply meaningful #storytelling; a transfer of enthusiasm, says @dVencis" username="StartupInst"]

So, come off of the script as early and often as you can. Be conversational, ask questions, and control the flow and tone of conversation. A good tip is to ask yourself: Why does this slide matter? What should the prospect take away from it to inspire action? Would a total stranger understand what this means if I pitched it to them? You’ll probably find that you need to tweak your deck a bit to fit that criteria but, in doing so, you’ll ensure a concise and valuable pitch.

3. Just breathe

Allow me to put on my psychology hat (do psychologists wear hats?): GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD!

Okay, maybe I’m not a psychologist. But I can tell you that this is something I struggled with as a young salesperson (and sometimes still do). I’ve delivered dozens of mock pitches and sat through twice as many as a hiring manager. It’s TOTALLY normal to be nervous. In fact, it’s human and shows you really care about getting the job. But, it’s obvious when you’ve totally psyched yourself out.

The remedy: breathe.

Before the pitch and during it, focus on your breathing. It will have a profound impact on both your mindset and your delivery. In an almost meditative way, take five minutes before you go into your mock pitch to close your eyes and breathe. I like to do a routine of closing my eyes, inhaling a big breath through my nose and, while keeping my mouth closed, forcing it out from my throat (basically making the Darth Vader noise). I repeat this ten times while trying keep an absent mind. This might sound crazy but, I learned it at yoga and it definitely helps me calm down.

[bctt tweet="Before your #pitch + during, focusing on #breathing will impact mindset + delivery, says @dVencis" username="StartupInst"]

If you can’t quiet your inner voice while breathing, try saying positive affirmations in your head: “You are intelligent. You KNOW this stuff. You’re going to impress these people. Just breathe.” While in the mock pitch, try to continue to focus on your breath. And when you get a question that throws you for a spin, stop and breathe, then consider the question thoughtfully, rather than answering reflexively.

[bctt tweet="When an #interviewquestion throws you, stop + breathe. Don't answer reflexively, says @dVencis" username="StartupInst"]

Frankly, going in and giving a mock presentation at a sales interview is a unique challenge. When you break it down, it incorporates elements of public speaking, stage presence, business acumen, industry knowledge, and much more. Not just anyone can do it. Take pride in this fact and remind yourself that you’ve been selected for the next round of hiring from a larger pool of people. You’ve done all the right things so far and the job is essentially more than 50% yours! My best sales interview tips are to think creatively with research, let your personality show through, and breathe. You’re going to crush this mock pitch! Happy selling.

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