By Barry Breit, Co-founder, Pro Resume Center, LLC
Trying to stand out in a sea of applicants for a sales job or sales management position can be a challenge. But, with some strategic planning and research you can prepare yourself to handle the squeeze of even the most difficult interviewer.
After more than a decade in a variety of sales and management positions, I know well the kind of traits we sought when interviewing applicants. There is a definite art to applying for associate or management positions and you need to present a stronger argument than “I am good with people,” or “I can talk with anybody,” to land the most sought after sales positions.
This is a three part article with the first focused on things to keep in mind if considering applying for your first – or ninth – sales position. If this is something you have done before but it has been awhile since you last interviewed, these will serve as good reminders. Even the most seasoned professionals can use a few nudges after being out of the interview game for a while.
The second article will focus on helping you prepare for the sales interview, including the most sought after traits to promote to the interviewer, along with a list of the top 10 sales interview questions you should be prepared to answer.
Below, find a few important considerations for potential sales job candidates to consider before applying:
Can you handle rejection?
Understand that in sales, just like in your job search, there is going to be rejection – probably a lot of it. Not everyone will like you and not everyone will buy from you. This point is especially aimed at today’s younger job seeker thinking about a career in sales. Some younger sales people are extremely sensitive and get down on themselves after not being able to close a sale. Don’t let fear of rejection stop you from entering the field or continuing your career climb. A sales position that provides you with the latitude to grow, earn and succeed can be very rewarding and exciting. Once you get past a few rejections and some botched cold-calls where you flubbed over your words, rejection will be something that just rolls off your back as you plot your next sale to meet or exceed your quota.
Would you buy the product or service?
Before you get into an interview situation, familiarize yourself with the company’s offerings and ask yourself if you would truly want to buy the product or service. If you can’t believe in the product or service, you will have a difficult time representing the company and closing the sale.
Also, check the company’s website and marketing materials. Are they professional enough to support your sales efforts? If a company has a poor marketing program or poorly done website, it makes it hard for a sales person to close a sale, even if the customer likes you and the sales meeting went well. Be sure the obvious support materials you can find on the internet will support your efforts.
Are you an active listener?
A common misconception made by younger sales job applicants is that a good answer to the question, “Why do you think you’d be good in sales?” is “Because I can talk to anybody.” No. Not the right answer. Just because you can “talk to anybody” does not mean that you will be successful in sales. A more accurate trait for success would be the ability to ask the right questions to get prospects to volunteer information. Their responses will help you more precisely pinpoint their needs, allowing you to continue asking more specific questions to guide them toward your closing efforts. Being able to get prospects to offer up information that you can repeat back to them, in order to get them to start saying “yes” helps you build momentum for trial close questions. These questions ultimately lead to an increased likelihood of getting a “yes” to your final closing question. See? It’s much more than just being able to talk to anybody!
Remember that most sales employers want somebody who has what is most commonly referred to as a “consultative selling” approach. More or less, the term refers to a sales style that aims to uncover the client's needs before trying to sell them anything. This is a good thing to understand. But consider turning that idea around when you get to a point of writing your resume or presenting yourself in an interview. Most sales people are portrayed in movies and on television as obnoxious closers who will stop at nothing to make the sale. That usually can be the end of the client relationship. But turn that idea around – Consider working on the concept of “opening” when it comes to working with potential clients, and think about how you could best portray that idea to an interviewer? Consider the idea of opening up the door with clients to what could be long lasting relationship with a client and building potential for future sales.
Let me know if you have any thoughts on these ideas and if they helped jumpstart some of your thoughts on applying for a sales position.
Watch for Parts 2 and 3 of this article on the most important traits to convey to an interviewer when seeking a sales position and the top 10 questions you should be prepared to answer.
(So You Want a Job In Sales – Part 2: Most Important Traits to Convey In a Sales Interview is published and available now. CLICK HERE!)
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