A friend of mine is interviewing for a new sales job. Today he received the following instructions for his upcoming interview. As both a sales manager and a marketing recruiter, I like this format a lot. Take a look ...

Instructions to Candidates for "Mock Sales Presentation"

Assignment:  Select a product or service you know well or have sold before.  The product need not be related to our product or industry.  It is best to select a topic that enables you to demonstrate strong product knowledge and confidence.

Prepare a 15-minute presentation intended to educate and convince prospective customers about the benefits of using your product/service.

As part of our selection process, you will deliver a mock sales presentation to an audience of 2-3 members of the Senior Sales Management Team, who will play the role of your prospective customers.

Note:  Please come ready to present.  You will not have time to prepare for this during your visit.

Objective:  This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skill at presenting product or service information in small group settings.  You will be assessed on your performance in six dimensions:

  1. Builds rapport and engages others

  2. Demonstrates product knowledge and personal confidence

  3. Educates the customer

  4. Presents in a focused and succinct manner

  5. Effectively handles objections

  6. Conveys a professional image

Try to close the deal.

Guidelines:  Your presentation cannot exceed 15 minutes, so carefully select and narrow your topic.  Your presentation will conclude at 15 minutes, whether you are finished or not.  There is no separate Question and Answer period, so you will want to build some time for this into your presentation.  Seek opportunities for give-and-take with your customers rather than a straight presentation.

At a minimum, please provide your audience an agenda for your presentation.  You may use a product sample if demonstration is necessary to your presentation.  You may also prepare and use up to two handouts (e.g., related notes or charts) if you wish.  Other materials, such as flipcharts or professionally printed brochures, are not allowed. You may NOT use Power Point presentations.

My Two CentsI'd be interested to see how every candidate who applies for any job would do with this exercise.  At Disney, all employees are called "cast members."  When they clock-in, all employees are "in character."  In a sense, everyone sells.

Would your accounting people know how to cross-sell or up-sell your company's products and services if the occasion arose?  What about your truckers?  All things being equal, wouldn't you rather work for a company that understands the importance of appropriate yet opportunistic selling?

In a tough economy, my money's on the companies that know how to engage the client across every customer touch point.  You know I'm right.  Now ...

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Harry Joiner is an executive recruiter specializing in integrated marketing and "new media." He has been featured in MarketingSherpa's Great Minds in Marketing series and received coverage in the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal Online. According to Viral Garden's weekly rankings, Harry's weblog MarketingHeadhunter.com is one of the top 25 marketing weblogs in the world.