Congratulations ! You have successfully passed your initial interview with the Company and now they want you back for another round. As you successfully progress through these subsequent interview stages, you are likely to be interviewing with Managers who are higher up the food-chain and/or with Managers with a cross functional interest in the Sales team who are one or more steps removed from your day-to-day. It is important therefore, that you tailor your messages in these interviews accordingly, by addressing their higher order needs, and the specific issues that could be keeping them awake at night.
For those of us that are familiar with the work of Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman (MillerHeiman/Strategic Selling) we know that for more complex sales processes, there are a number of buying influences in the Client organisation and they are all on their own specific purchase paths and have their own requirements that must be met. (Coach, Economic, User, Technical buying influences). In a similar way, your value proposition needs to be framed in the context of the person you are interviewing with.
As an example: You are Interviewing for a senior sales position and have had a good first round interview with your prospective boss - The National Head of Sales. They now want you to Interview with his boss the Regional Sales Director. A lot of your messaging will obviously be the same but what are some of the issues that this person faces that your prospective immediate boss may not? These issues may relate to the sharing of best sales practices across the region, the leveraging of client relationships from one country to another etc. How have you done this in your current role?
Your next interview is with the Regional General Manager - This person will probably want to know, - How you can support the business across functions, ie, How can you strengthen the connections between the Sales department and other functional departments in the business which helps drive organisational efficiencies and profitability. This approach is not about rewriting your whole pitch, but rather letting the interviewer know that you are cognisant of the challenges that they face, and how you will be able to support them in your role- even if in a small way.
Also, on the issue of cross-functional collaboration, interviews with the more senior managers of an organisation are also often through a lens of how you are able to support the objectives of the business beyond your immediate sphere of influence. We have discussed above, some of the areas that are directly within the scope of a Salesperson's remit that can help you demonstrate your collaborative approach; you should however also use these opportunities to shine a light on your soft/non-technical skills.
In his article "Soft skills are too important not to be discussed" (Lou Adler, LinkedIn May 4 2020) Lou talks about the value of candidates who have a range of soft skills. He uses the example of a candidate whose consistent election to a number of organisational committees in their present and past companies would indicate someone having the strongest of non-technical skills. What similar things have you done/experienced that could demonstrate your added value, particularly in these subsequent round interviews?
About Fifth Executive
Fifth Executive is a boutique Sales Talent Development Agency that specialises in finding and growing Sales talent for organisations involved in B2B sales. We have over 50 years combined Sales and Sales Management experience.