Twice in as many months, I have had a reader email me to ask me how they can get a job in sales. In both cases, hiring managers were resistant to hiring the person emailing me because their backgrounds were technical, meaning they weren’t in a role that would have required they create and win new opportunities. The prospective employers were interested but desired to keep them in a technical position.
Both of these readers have reached out to inform me they now work in a sales role after following my very straightforward, and very simple advice. If you want to work in sales, there is one thing that you can do to guarantee you get the job. However, first, let’s look at what makes it easy for those who want a sales role.
You Didn’t Really Apply for the Position
You can click an apply button on any of the job boards and have an electronic version of your cover letter (if you have one) and your resume sent to the hiring company. Because the job board’s strategy is to make it easy for a company to acquire a bunch of resumes, you were probably sent an email asking you to click to submit yours to anything in the pay range you entered when you signed up on their platform. But you didn’t apply. Instead, you merely forwarded your electronic resume—just like 300 other people.
Your resume looks a lot like the other 299 resumes the hiring person that flooded into their inbox. There was nothing different about your approach, and if you did this, you decided that the relationship is transactional. If you were a salesperson, this approach would be the same as emailing your dream client a PDF of a sell sheet and waiting for them to call you to invite you in for a meeting or place an order.
I would love to tell you that none of this is your fault, that you are absolved of the responsibility for the poor approach because the technology drives the process. However, if you are a salesperson, you have to choose what is effective, not what is easy.
How to Apply for a Sales Position
If you spend your time on the social channels, you may be infected with the idea that cold calling no longer works and is no longer necessary, an idea my friends and I have combatted for the last few years. That war was fought and won, and no serious person who writes or works in or around sales believes cold calling is dead.
The person you are going to be working for, should you be hired, is going to expect you to make cold calls. They want to hire someone willing and able to pick up the phone, call a stranger, and successfully pitch them on why they should agree to a meeting. You are applying to be a salesperson, and prospecting is what salespeople do. The process of getting hired is also prospecting.
Of the 300 people who clicked a button and sent an email, approximately 0.0% of those people will have done any more than that to obtain the open role. It’s easy to stand out in a crowd of people who won’t act in their interest.
If you want to a sales job, call the sales manager or Vice President of Sales and ask them for an interview.
Proving You Are the Right Candidate
When someone is hiring to fill an open position, they are trying to solve a problem. They need a solution, which means they need someone to have a conversation where they can explore the change they need, what the right solution looks like, and who might be the best partner to work with them in producing those results.
When you call the sales manager or Vice President of Sales, you need only say, “I am calling you to ask you for an interview, and if you end up hiring me, I will call your dream clients and ask them directly for a meeting, just like I am doing now.” By making this call, you make it very difficult for the person on the other end of the phone to reject your request for an interview, as you will be a category of precisely one. You are also demonstrating the willingness to engage in the one activity that they wish they had more of, namely outbound prospecting.
No hiring manager, sales manager, or Vice President of Sales has any real idea how well a newly-hired salesperson is going to perform, but they will worry about whether or not they are going to prospect and create new opportunities. Your call will resolve that concern in your favor—provided you’ve got the chops when you sit down for an interview.
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