Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one. However, it doesn’t imply it is easy to retain a customer.

Both individuals and businesses will always look for the best deal. Unless you keep in touch with them, unless they see your interest and unless you have some surprises to offer (in terms of new services or at least updates), they will simply leave you and do business with one of your competitors.

Exactly for this reason your new job exists–the Relationship Manager. Your main goal will be to retain existing customers, and to secure more business with them, ideally on a regular basis. Everything else you will respond for in this job is done to achieve the primary goal.

 

Qualities they observe in an interview

Interviewers will use a combination of role-specific and situational questions, trying to understand the following:

  • The level of your communication skills
  • Your understanding for the role of a Relationship Manager
  • Your sales skills
  • Your analytical and management skills
  • Your motivation and attitude to various situations (including the tricky one) that will happen in your daily job

I will show you some of these questions and how you should address them in your interview. Let’s start!

 

Why do you want to work as a Relationship Manager?

Becasue you love to close big deals, and enjoy  private corporate parties in Jacuzzi at the top of a five star hotel, signing contracts while drinking glasses of champagne…

Hm, perhaps that’s the real reason for your application (especially if you apply for a job in a company that’s active in B2B segment and million dollar deals), but you should not refer to this in your answer. Focus on a value you can bring as a relationship manager–to both your employer and their clients.

Talk about your excellent sales skills, your understanding of a given segment of business and needs and desires of the target customer. You can also say that you love to work with data and believe you will improve the level of customer retention in your new job…

Simply say that you have a lot to offer to everyone involved, once you will start your work.

meeting of four corporate employees in a modern office

Why do you want to work for us, and not one of our competitors?

Pre-interview research will help you a lot with your answer. You should find something special either about the company, or the products they sell. It allows for two great interview answers.

First one is saying that you checked their portfolio, the way they do the sales and the kind of customers they have, and that it strongly resonates with you, and you believe to be the right relationship manager for the particular segment of economy/customers.

Second good answer consists in praising the business, e.g. their excellent reputation, the working environment, reviews their former employees left online, employee benefits, and other things, basically saying that you liked their offer more than the offers of their competitors.

 

How do you imagine a typical day in work as a Relationship Manager?

This will change slightly from one company to another, but the core activity will always be the contact with existing clients.

The most important thing is to show the interviewers that you expect to be busy, make phone calls, and leave your office regularly to visit clients in their companies. Business is all about relationships, and you should show the hiring managers that you understand how to maintain an excellent business relationship. A sample answer:

I imagine spending most of my day on the call, or in meetings, either with people from marketing and sales, or with clients. I will try to stay organized in work and follow a schedule each day, and I think that part of the day should also be devoted to data analysis and making reports, since it is crucial to  understand the customer behavior and decision making process, and it is also a fundamental basis for new plans and ideas we can implement in our sales process. Anyway, I expect to be busy, and I know the job won’t be easy, but I am looking forward to it.

Enthusiasm can take you a long way in any job interview. Don’t forget to show it on a big day!

 

A long-term customer complains to you about product prices and wants to end your business relationship.What would you do?

Try to show a complex way of thinking. To lower the price is not always a feasible solution, since having a business relationship that eventually only costs you money is a stupid strategy.

Say that you would consider the lifetime value of the customer, and how much you can lower the price (if you can at all), and what impact it would have on your relationship with other customers (maybe everyone would want a better price then), and other variables that come in the process.

You can also say that you would use your excellent interpersonal and sales skills, trying to talk the customer to stay with you, without lowering the price.

 

Do you create any reports to keep track of your work? Do you work with any software products while managing customer relationships?

In my opinion, various fancy tools and software products can only make our work more effective, and save our time. But they can’t make from you a good relationship manager… It’s soft skills, motivation, and knowledge of both the product and the customer which determines how good you will fare in your job.

Nevertheless, reports are important, at least for your managers, and partially also for you, as they help you to spot some mistakes and certain patterns of customers. Software products then help up to analyze our data quickly, and effectively, making reports with a simple click of a button.

You can talk about reporting on sales level, campaign level, or even customer lever (profitability, buying patterns, etc). Avoid using technical jargon though, since people in the interviewing panel may not understand it. You should rather talk about the value these reports bring, and how they help you to be more effective in your job.

Man uses his hands to emphasize his words in a job interview. We can see his notebook on a table.

Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult client.

You will experience a lot of difficulties in this job. Some clients will always demand a better deal, it will be a pain to negotiate with them, and you will need a lot of courage and persistence.

The key is to talk about a situation that had a happy ending--either you eventually won the client over and convinced them, or you learned something important in the process of dealing with them, something that will help you do your job better next time.

Difficulties belong to this job, and you will experience rejection on a daily basis. Your interviewers should feel that you are ready for such difficulties, and have realistic expectations of the job…

 

Other questions you may face in your Relationship Manager interview

  • What motivates you the most in work?
  • What do you want to accomplish in this job?
  • Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline.
  • How do you feel about making a cold call?
  • See this pen on my desk? Try to sell it to me right now.
  • Describe a difficult decision you had to make in your professional career. How did making this decision affect you?
  • Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
  • Why should we hire you, and not one of many other candidates who apply for this job?

 

Summary and next steps

Customer Relationship Manager is a fancy job title, and you will always compete with other people for the job. It can be five, ten, but also fifty, depending on the employer and the salary offer.

Since formal education plays a little role in this position, your interview answers (and answers of other candidates) will mostly decide who gets the job, and who will walk away empty handed.

Read the article again, and try to answer each question. Research about the employer, and do all you can to be ready for the big day. I wish you good luck!

Continue your interview preparation with us:

  • Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication?
  • Sales interview questions – To recruit a good salesman is an art, not a science. And it is always a risk. Job seekers find themselves in a better positions than the employers do… Learn what matters in this atypical interview.
  • How to prepare for an interview with the CEO – Going to meet the CEO of the company? Learn what matters for the decision makers.
Matthew Chulaw

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
Matthew Chulaw

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