Sales and Trading Interview: Why Sales?

KeyboardMaster2's picture
Rank: Baboon | 156

Hi all,

I have an interview tomorrow for an Equity Sales Intern position. I wonder what I should answer to the question "Why sales?" I guess one part of the answer should be "because I like to sell things", but what else do they usually want to hear ?

Thanks a lot for your answers.

Why do you want to work in Sales and Trading?

In any sales and trading interview on Wall Street, candidates will likely be asked to answer some variation of this question: Why Sales and Trading?

To tackle this broad question, you need to consider two components. Why are you interested in the division and what experiences do you have that can back up this interest? This story should highlight your interest in the markets and in the competitive, fast paced nature of sales and trading. If you can speak to the atmosphere of the trading floor (after having visited), you should touch on that as well.

In many summer analyst positions, candidates will also be asked to preference why sales vs. trading?

How to Answer the Why Sales Question

When explaining why you want to work in sales - you should curtail your answer to strengths and experiences that you can speak about. You could use a combination of the reasons below or a myriad of other reasons to explain why you want to work in sales.

  • Entrepreneurial/meritocratic environment: You are paid/promoted based on your skill in generating investment/trading ideas for your clients and finding value where others fail to do so. Stress that it's less political than other areas of the bank and that it's more fair/meritocratic, thus appealing to your personality, etc. (@fishbeancake)
  • You like the challenge of interacting with different clients and coming to an understanding of their business and how your product can suit their needs as well as moving your trading desk's risk. (@Jimbo)
  • You're great at managing relationships and seeking common solutions - i.e., balancing the interests of your traders and clients.
  • You enjoy debating and persuading, so working with clients is right up your alley.

Traits to Mention in a Sales Interview:

  • Entrepreneurial / Merit Based - Fast advancement for high performers
  • Client Interaction - Relationship manager and problem solver for clients
  • Expectations Manager - Able to have difficult conversations with clients when unable to fill requests
  • Persuasive - Skilled at communicating ideas and persuading those with different beliefs

Read More About Sales & Trading On WSO

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Comments (23)

Jul 20, 2008

i answered:

1) "the money" - the interviewer nodded with approval and seemed as if he was checking a box in his mental evaluation form. probably one of the few places in finance where you can say you want to work for the money.
2) "entrepreneurial/meritocratic" - you are paid/promoted based on your skill in generating investment/trading ideas for your clients and finding value where others fail to do so. i stressed that it was less political than other areas of the bank and that it was more fair/meritocratic, thus appealing to my personality, etc, etc.

    • 1
Jul 20, 2008

dont say "the money"... it is understood that you want to make it by applying and interviewing.

Jul 21, 2008

you could say "b/c I bullsht well, despite having no technical skills".

Kidding....maybe talk about how you like the challenge of interacting with different clients and coming to an understanding of their biz and how your product can suit their needs as well as moving your trading desk's risk.

after all, that's what sales is for.

Jul 21, 2008

Equity Sales.... Cuz you party like a rockstar making the clients happy and still come in ready to rock and roll the next morning. You also play poker weekly with the big boys at fidelity which means ridiculous floooooooooowww.

This is exadgerating it slightly to be anecdotal but its a pivotal role. Sales guys are entertainers and can maintain relationships with the firm.

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

    • 1
Jul 27, 2008

This is a high-risk, low-reward strategy. If you mention money and they like it, you aren't breaking new ground. Who goes into finance if they don't like money?

Mention the following:
1) you're great at managing relationships and seeking common solutions - ie balancing the interests of your traders and clients
2) experience in persuasion - if you were a debater, say "i'm skilled at selling ideas," etc.

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Aug 2, 2008

i just finished an internship in equity sales... my answer for "why equity sales, why this desk," etc. was 1. people skills and 2. i love stocks... i found proving your interest and knowledge by having great stock picks is key. Youre guaranteed to get this question and having in depth, well researched stock picks was definitely my differentiator.

Nov 17, 2011

They want to hear that you have education, ability and passion for sales job.

Nov 18, 2011

anyone else see the irony in someone asking how to sell an answer to "why do you want to do sales?"

Nov 23, 2011
bearflatten:

anyone else see the irony in someone asking how to sell an answer to "why do you want to do sales?"

It actually isn't ironic at all..

Mar 31, 2018

you must not get it.

Feb 27, 2012

Below some reasons you can use to have your best answer:

Money
You are almost certain to make more money in sales than in technical or administrative jobs. Companies need to make sales to survive, and usually reward successful sales people highly, to ensure that they stay in the job. And it's fair: the better the sales person, the more he or she will earn.

Route into management
Most chief executives and senior managers either started their career, or at least have spent some time in their career in sales. It gives you an appreciation of what happens 'at the sharp end' - at the customer interface. Very few purely technical people get to the top rank. No matter what job you hold in business, you spend a lot of your time selling: selling ideas to your bosses, your colleagues, your juniors, your suppliers and your customers. To have spent some time in sales trains and prepares you to communicate effectively, and to 'win friends and influence people' (Dale Carnegie).

Personal control
Generally you can control your own time. You make your own appointments, and run your own day the way you think fit. As long as you're producing the results your boss requires, you can more or less do what you want.
In a commission-related job, the more you sell, the more money you earn.
The harder you work, the more you sell.
The longer you work, the more you sell.
The smarter you work, the more you sell.
The more you learn, the more you sell.

Job security
Companies are unlikely to make successful sales people redundant. At least not before most other types of staff.
If you do lose your job, or choose to leave it, it's relatively easy to get a new job if you can demonstrate a 'track record' of success in sales.
A successful sales person should always be able to get a job and make a living.

Finger on the pulse
As a sales person you'll mix with a wide variety of other people in your industry. You'll be better informed about changes and opportunities occurring within your market. Being better informed will enable you to be better prepared to face sudden changes which could affect you, positively or negatively.

Fun
Sales is mainly about the relationships between business people. It's about helping other people achieve their goals, and solve their problems by introducing your company's products/services. It's not about forcing other people to buy things they don't want to. It's about working hard to discover places where your company's products/services will be useful (and valued), understanding clearly what the other party needs and wants, and then working hard to provide it.
Done properly, solving peoples' problems in this way will earn their undying gratitude (and their payments!). You get a genuine feeling of being useful to people.

Creative interview questions
http://www.humanresources.hrvinet.com/creativity-i...

    • 1
Feb 27, 2012

Don't say "the money", it's probabely the most terrible advice possible.

    • 1
Feb 27, 2012

Basically what Caradi says, judging by my convos with several salespeople I know.

With that said, if you're not a people person I don't think this is the route you should be taking. The sales guys I know are extremely affable, outgoing, driven, and smart too.

Sep 24, 2016

Just my take on this but sounds a bit rehearsed. I would try to be more specific and make it sound more like a conversation.

Try to make this more specific to S&T.

This communicates why you'd be good at S&T, but not why S&T. Use this as an example for questions asking about your experience with communication/teamwork. Try to find a concrete example/story you can tell on how you became interested in S&T (e.g. investing when you were younger)

Include this but try to justify this with a brief example on a quantitative/qualitative insight you gave and what you researched/analyzed and how specifically it will be transferable to S&T.

Feb 27, 2012

Thanks but it's an online application question , not a conversation one , so that why it probably doesn't sound very colloquial.

But I will take that on board .

Anybody else have any suggestions ?

Feb 27, 2012

Pretty generic answer (you also need to be able to work in a team and build long term relationships in IB, for example, and most other industries too).

You barely even mention why you like markets, just describe what the division does (which the reader already knows) and then talk about having and wanting to build soft skills. Your last point is the most direct and arguably better suited to research roles.

I would go back to the drawing board with this one to weave in why you're actually interested in markets and s&t as well

Feb 27, 2012

In the first line I'd try: "...maintaining long-term relationships built on trust." There are a few errors in the following sentence, Whilst* and out of* 50, but I'd consider re-writing it altogether or chopping it up.

Feb 27, 2012

Thanks for all your opinions.

Please keep them coming, so I can enhance things further.

Feb 27, 2012

Quote There Will Be Blood a lot "... I have this competition in me, I want no one else to succeed"

    • 1
Feb 27, 2012

[double post]

Feb 27, 2012
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Feb 27, 2012