Sales Interview and Critique
The objective of this project is to hone your sales and oral communication skills. Part of your role as a
salesperson/account manager is to be able to uncover the needs of your customer and then use your
product as a solution to satisfy these needs. You must be able to listen, analyse and interpret situations
and present benefits. B2B selling is often not about making a one off sale but rather building a long
term relationship with your client and working on solutions that benefit your client so that they will buy
again and again from you. Success in this project will be determined by your team’s ability to put what
you have learnt into practice
Company Profile: Maine Design– a national chain of homeware stores
“Maine Design” was founded in 2008 by a local entrepreneur Alastair Tombs. It was modelled on the UK
homeware store Habitat (www.habitat.co.uk) and the Australian homeware store Freedom
(www.freedom.com.au). We now have 12 stores across the main centres on the east coast of Australia.
Our aim is to sell things that make your home YOUR home. What we sell is inspiration, great design and
personality. Our philosophy is to bring great design within the reach of everyone. Design is not about
making simple things expensive but making great things accessible. Good design is not only beautiful in
its line and form but also practical in its ease of use – it is something that just works.
You have recently started up a company that designs, manufactures and sells a range of products that
you believe could fit in with Maine Design’s product range. The choice of product(s) is up to your team.
Your product should however, be appropriate for this business and something the management team is
likely to buy. While you would love to get your product stocked as an ongoing product line in all of
Maine Design’s stores you do need to be realistic about it and push for at least a trial shipment into their
Part A: Team based project – Sales Interview (20 Marks)
Interviews are to be conducted by small teams (3 to 5 people).
You and your team are required to develop and deliver a 10-15 minute sales interview during week 10,
week 11 or week 12 (8 – 28 May, 2017). The exact time slot for conducting the interviews during that
week should be negotiated between your team and your tutors. Please allow 25 minutes maximum for
this task to include questions and initial feedback.
The sales interview will be conducted with the purchasing manager of Maine Design.
You are likely to be one of a number of companies pursuing this business; therefore you will need to
make an effort to produce a better sales presentation than your competitors. Your presentation should
include: introduction of the sales people, introduction of your company and products, identification of
the client’s needs; the benefits for the client; information that will support your claims; time for
questions and objections; outline of what will happen next.
Part B: Individual Project – Managerial Critique (5 marks)
This part of the sales assignment requires you to assume the role of a sales manager for Maine Design
and constructively critique the sales interview techniques of another sales team. This will require you to
take on the role of an observer during the sales interview undertaken by another sales team as their
part A of this assignment (see details above). You are required to provide feedback to the sales people
based on your evaluation of their performance in the sales interview. A feedback pro-forma will be
available on Blackboard. The completed feedback should be 1000 words in length. To allow you a little
extra time to refine your feedback after the interview, the Critique will be due 2 days after the sales
interview (Due: 5:00pm). The critiques will be de-identified by your tutors and given back to the
teams that conducted the interview as additional feedback on their work, so please keep the critiques
very analytical and very constructive. Please submit these critiques as Word documents.
Part C: Individual Project – Written proposal (5 marks)
Based on the discussion and feedback from the buyer (i.e. the purchasing manager from Maine Design)
at the interview, you are to prepare a follow-up sales proposal formalising the offer. This proposal should
consist of a cover letter plus details of your offer/solution (max. 2 pages for the offer), plus any sales
material or brochures etc., that you think is necessary.
The final decision to stock your products or accept the offer made by another company will be made at
5pm Friday 1 June 2017, therefore all proposals must be in by then.
SALES INTERVIEW RUBRIC
(Joey) Initial Opening – your ability to break the ice and get down to business;
– Confident entrance
– Conversation started as soon as they met client. Made client feel at ease.
– Introduced the team well.
– Gave out business cards.
– Introduced what you would like to achieve at the meeting.
– Introduce company, and commitment to sustainable manufacturing and materials
(joey) Needs Assessment – how well you use questioning to uncover and understand the needs of the
– Asked questions following Spin or Adapt sequence. Allowed client to talk. Used follow up
questions to draw out information more like a conversation. Took notes of client’s answers.
Summarized client’s needs. Didn’t push their product too early
– Type of questions to ask are on Lecture 5 (ADAPT Questioning Technique)
– Assessment (broad questions), Broad bases and general facts describing situation:
● What are you main goals for the next year? – Julia
– Discovery (open-ended questions), Questions probing information gained in assessment:
● How satisfied are you with your current furniture suppliers?
– Activation (link to Discovery questions), show the negative impact of a problem discovered
in the discovery sequence:
● You mentioned your current suppliers are often late on their orders, how does this
affect your performance?
– Projection (turn the negative from the Activation question into a positive), Projects what life
would be like without the problems:
● How would your performance change if your suppliers delivered their orders on
– Transition (into the presentation), Confirms interest in solving the problem:
● So having your orders arrive on time is important to you? If I can show you our
supply chain network, would you be interested in hearing how we can deliver orders
(Matt) Presentation of the Offer – How well you adapt your offer to show the benefits for the client;
– Offer appears to be adapted to suit client’s responses to needs assessment. Used sales
materials. Showed proof of your expertise and homework. Showed how your offer would benefit
client and explain value proposition well.
– How the buyer’s needs will be met or how an opportunity can be realized as a result of
– Explain Features and Benefits of the product/s
– Explain our competitive advantage – sustainable material
– This is a good time to use visual aids (physical examples of product, photos, statistics,
(David) Handling Objections – how well you can adapt your plans to handle questioning and
objections from the client;
Objection Example Strategy
Need – I have all I can use
– I don’t need any
– The equipment I have is still good
– I’m satisfied with the company
Stimulate need awareness through
effective questioning (e.g. SPIN/ADAPT)
and presentation of key features and
benefits that may peak the prospect’s
we use now
– We have no room for your line
– I don’t like the design, color, or
– Maintenance agreement should
– Performance of product is
– Packaging is too bulky.
– Specifications don’t match what
we have now.
– The product is poor quality
Improve fact-finding during early stages
of the sales cycle; to offset perceived
downsides, make sure to present and
emphasize features and benefits that add
value and are important to the prospect.
– Offer a different product from
your range – if you offered them
your mid-range best seller and the
buyer says it is bad quality, then
offer your high-price high-quality
– Your company is too small to
meet my needs.
– I’ve never heard of your company.
– Your company is too big; I’ll get
lost in the shuffle.
– How do I know you’ll be around to
take care of me in the future?
– Your company was recently in the
– Are you having problems?
Evaluate validity of concern; offer
evidence (preferably third-party) to
counter or alleviate concern; highlight
competitive strengths without making
disparaging remarks about competitors.
– Too small? We only have a few
clients so we have very personalized
– Too big? We have the resources
and personnel to service your every
Price – We can’t afford it.
– I can’t afford to spend that much
– That’s 30% higher than your
competitor’s comparable model.
– We have a better offer from your
– I need something a lot cheaper.
– Your price is not different enough
to change suppliers.
Recognise price objections are common
and often an attempt to get a lower
price; present evidence showing how the
value gained exceeds the perceived cost;
find ways to build-in additional value.
– Educate customer; it may be
expensive but it will last for 10 years
– Reducing the environmental cost;
using the data: customers are willing
to pay for sustainability.
Time – I need time to think it over.
– Ask me again next month when
you stop by.
– I’m not ready to buy yet.
– I haven’t made up my mind.
– I don’t want to commit myself
until I’ve had a chance to talk to
Be sensitive to prospect’s timing issues
(avoid being perceived as pushy); where
appropriate and accurate, present
meaningful reasons to move forward in
the sales process. E.g:
– Customers are asking for this
product now, its selling really well in
your competitors’ stores,
(david) Recommendations – can you make recommendations based on your client's needs and your
company's needs that will create value for both organisations;
– Made recommendations based on discussion during interview. R
– ecommendations show how the client would benefit and show how your firm can work with the
client to create value.
– Outline next stages in developing the relationship.
(Maddy) Gaining Commitment – your ability to close the sale or at least gain commitment that
ensures the sale dialogue can proceed;
– Used trial closes – “How did you find the presentation today?”
– Resolve any “Red light” statements before continuing
– Gained commitment for next meeting including date time and place.
– Gained commitment for client to read material/proposal or prepare and additional information if
Overall Interview needs to have:
Control – how well you control the timing of the interview and direction of the discussion.
– Stayed within 20 minutes. Acknowledged that client was giving up his/her time so controlled the
timing of the meeting. Kept the discussion on track. Drew the meeting to a close without
Confidence – how well you work as a team and the level of confidence in your Sales Interview and Critique;
– All team members spoke. All team members appeared like they knew the material without
reading. Seamless transferal between sales team speakers. Clearly identified roles. All showed
enthusiasm for products and trying to progress the sale
ComeHome Furniture was founded by Blah and Blah in 2010 in the garage at their Parent's home in
East Brisbane. Blah and Blah started the company following a trip to the local tip, where they
witnessed the waste of thousands of pieces of furniture. From there, the two founders decided that
there must be a more sustainable way to create beautiful furniture for the modern Australian family.
Since then, ComeHome Furniture has moved into a much larger warehouse and has grown into the
largest sustainable furniture manufacturer in Queensland.
Everyday at ComeHome Furniture we strive to create and craft stylish and sustainable furniture that
every family wants to come home to.