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Recruitment musings

Interview tips – Nailing the dreaded Mock Sales Presentation

Nothing quite unnerves even the most experienced of reps than the part of the interview process where you are asked to do a mock sales presentation. Fear not however –  There are a few tried and tested tips that can prepare you to nail this slightly quirky but crucial step along the way to getting that dream sales job.

Embrace the madness.  Accept mock sales pitches for what they are – highly unnatural! These aren’t customers – these are your new potential bosses and coworkers evaluating you – so embrace the slightly odd nature of this request instead of fighting it.

Asserting control. The best way to deal with too many unknown variables in the scenario you have been asked to pitch in is to assert your limited control over the situation where you can. Where there are gaps in the context in which you have been asked to present a solution it is perfectly reasonable for you to dictate the scenario to your interviewers and fill those gaps in advance. This allows you to set the stage to pitch at your best….naturally. For example, you can preface your presentation by saying “I am taking the assumption that we had an initial phone conversation where we discussed our offering briefly and you agreed it aligned with these strategic goals or tactical initiatives”. You can do this as part of your pitch (where, like above, you talk about the setup to the meeting directly to the “Client”) or in advance of going into pitch mode.

Demarcation points. Establish a clear demarcation point where you move from regular interview status to mock pitch status i.e. from normal interview mode to mock pitch acting status. Create this demarcation before the start of the pitch and after the end of the pitch. Close twice – in the mock pitch about next steps (see below) and afterwards “How did I do in the mock presentation?”

Presentation style. Remember that these mock pitches are mainly about HOW you handle them and yourself in that situation – they are rarely about the content (although that is still partially important – see below). To do well, make your pitch

A)     Highly interactive. Mock pitches should NEVER be a one way affair and this is far and away the biggest mistake that Sales people make in these scenarios. To make them interactive:
Constantly validate assumptions, ask for guidance on what areas to focus on and ask great consultative questions to better understand the client.

B)      Focused and goal oriented. You are running the meeting. Keep it on time. Leave room for questions. Never ever forget to close at the end of the meeting.

C)      Natural. Do a) and b) seamlessly

Content. You are generally asked to present the interviewing company’s solution but every once in a while you might be asked to present your current company’s solution. In the latter case you should obviously already know your current solution cold. That level of detailed knowledge is not generally expected when presenting a new offering of the interviewing company but they will expect you to do your homework on their web site / case studies and have the basic features and benefits down. You should also research the prospective mock client for recent news / initiatives etc. If you aren’t given a client, assert one in advance! Tricky interviewers will often try and unnerve you by asking in depth questions about their offering that you can’t possibly expect to know. To deal with this simply roll with the punches – either fob the question off for later or simply make up a credible answer (your confidence in doing so is almost always appreciated!).

Presentation format. Remember these mock presentations are never Powerpoint competitions so don’t stress about creating fancy animations or graphics. Go a step beyond basic text but not much further.

Close! It might be a stretch to ask for the sale in the mock pitch (although do take the opportunity if it arises) BUT make sure you are focused on closing down the logical next steps at the end of your pitch – a follow up meeting with the CFO (“Does Tuesday at 10am work?”), getting them a proposal etc.

Follow these steps and you can nail your next fake presentation.