Unemployment rate in the U.S. stands at 8.9% (according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics). Whether you agree or not with the way the unemployment numbers are calculated, the fact is there are a lot of people looking for work. Many of these job seekers are seasoned sales leaders and sales professional that are out of work not due to a lack of sales and management skills but because of corporate belt tightening, mergers or even bankruptcies.
Many of these sales professionals have been looking for the right position for months and are having a hard time standing out to prospective employers. Assuming you are one of these pro’s and are not one of those sales people that drift from job to job every year or two; what can you do to stand out?
Separate yourself from the pack
Potential employers make their initial selection based on how your resume looks and what it really says. Far too often people attempt to write resumes that have broad appeal; instead really focus in on those traits that prove your ability to be effective in a sales position. Employ a professional resume writer if you can afford one. These services force you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Properly written resumes will showcase your strengths and talents while minimizing deficiencies. 3forward has performed first level resume screening for senior positions for several clients. We have passed on many candidates who may otherwise have been strong contenders simply because their resumes were so poorly written. If you can’t get your pedigree established in 3 pages or less – rewrite it!
Be capable of demonstrating strong domain and industry knowledge
If you are successful passing the first screening process your next interaction is likely a telephone interview, especially if the hiring manger is in a different city. Make sure you have done your homework on the company, and I mean deep homework! Serious preparation demonstrates a work ethic that will be appealing to hiring companies. Areas to study include:
- What they have been doing and saying in the marketplace
- Recent wins, alliances or product announcements
- Events they have spoken
- Industry trends and dynamics
Keep your head in the game
If you have been searching for work for some period of time you may be starting to doubt your ability to get back in the game. Assuming you have successfully passed the initial screen and are set up for a face-to-face interview it’s time to show your “A” game.
Everyone finds motivation and confidence in different ways, but you have to be ready for the one chance to get to the next level. Whether it’s a strong day at the gym, participating in church or community activities, or the satisfaction that you feel when you finish a home improvement project, getting a strong dose of “feel good” is the best way to enter an interview refreshed and in a positive mental state.
For many sales professionals this is the easiest part of the process (or it should be). We have all had a tremendous amount of face time selling to prospects so selling ourselves should be our comfort zone. If you are not comfortable in these types of interactions, either practice or consider another line of work.
Above all, be honest with yourself and the hiring manger during the interview. Let’s face it, there have been times when we did not make our quota, we have not been to President’s Club 100% of the time, and there have been deals we should have won but didn’t because of some failure on our part during the selling process. Discussing these shortcomings will ensure you come across as a credible individual. Also, don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Both you and the employer are making a significant investment in each other; you have the right to make sure you are choosing the right firm just like they have the right to hire the best sale professional they can.
I also think it’s a good idea to be able to prove income. Nothing says success like a steady flow of high income W-2’s year in and year out. Don’t wait for them to ask to see your earnings history, come prepared to put it on the table for discussion.
I know these are all common sense items but you would be surprised how many sales candidates commit one or more of these fatal mistakes.
Good luck and good selling on your next interview!