Article: Maintaining Your Positive Attitude by Deborah Brown-Volkman:

Searching for a new executive level job? Think like a sales person.
Matthew Cook - SalesForce Search

Put yourself in this situation. Your company's revenues have been flat lately and you've been handed one straight forward yet very challenging task: increase sales. It's time to prove yourself so you jump right in. You quickly throw together a generic brochure summarizing the company's services, create a list of every company in the phone book from A to Z, and then spend the rest of your budget on stamps and envelopes for a mass mailing. Then you sit back and wait for the orders to start pouring in. Then you wait some more. Then, before you know it, you're out on the job hunt looking for your next exciting opportunity.

So what went wrong? The experienced sales professional will recognize your approach was not well thought out and did not meet the fundamentals of a successful sales methodology. You didn't identify which companies were in the greatest need of your services; you didn't use your network of personal and professional contacts; and you didn't tailor your material to match the company's unique needs. Sales is a process, not an event, and it requires a strategic, targeted and customized approach.

How does this all relate to your job search? Because when looking for your next job you should follow the same principles that lead to success in sales. There's a cliché that when you're searching for a new job you're actually "selling yourself". However, a better way to think of it is that you're offering your services, skills and experience to help a company fulfill their current needs and provide value to their business. The more committed you are to following a sound sales process, the more success you will have landing your next great position. With that in mind, put on your sales hat and consider the following when starting your career search:

* Develop a strategy. Any sales initiative should start with a sound assessment of the goals. Assess why you are looking for a new role — for career advancement, a higher income, or perhaps just a change of scenery. Once you've determined where you want to end up, you can start planning the steps you need to take to get there.

* Define target companies. First, determine what type of company you want to work for. What industry? Large or small? Start-up or well established? Second, do some research to determine which companies would benefit from your skill set and experiences. There's little value sending off your resume to any random company that's out there. Remember, you have to be a good fit with the company and the company has to be a good fit for you.

* Create a contact list. Identify those individuals in your personal and professional network and open up a channel of communication. These resources are very valuable and will help open the door to opportunities that may not have otherwise been available.

* Customize your materials. Just as a successful sales professional would not send out the same generic information to every potential client, make sure any resume or cover letter you send to a prospective employer is tailored specifically for them. Explain why you are a good fit with their company and how your qualifications can address their specific needs and add value to their business. Submitting generic information sends the wrong message to the employer — that you're not really interested in them in particular but are just out looking for "any job".

* Present well & follow-up. A job interview and a sales call have much in common. It's your opportunity to confirm for the prospective employer that you will be able to provide the services required to address their business needs. Provide specific examples that demonstrate the value you can offer, ask the right questions to show your interest in the company and to learn more, and ensure you leave the meeting with a clear understanding of next steps. Follow-up accordingly to express your serious interest in the position and to keep yourself on the employer's radar.

Treating your career search like a sales initiative will give you a competitive advantage over other job seekers. Sales is a long process, but if you follow sound sales fundamentals your efforts will be rewarded by a career opportunity that is mutually beneficial for you and the organization. At SalesForce Search we meet with hundreds of sales professionals each month and help guide them through the search process and "close the deal" on their next job. But you don't need to be a seasoned sales professional to conduct a successful job search. Whatever your profession, whether finance, accounting, technology, operations or general management, the beginning of your job search is a good time to start thinking like a sales person.


Matthew Cook is the President of SalesForce Search, a boutique executive recruitment firm that specializes in placing Canada's top performing Sales professionals. Learn more about Matthew and SalesForce Search by clicking here.


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