People with a background in sales understand basic sales principles and know how to build a sales funnel. They understand lead generation and aren't afraid of rejection because they know it's part of the process. Job seekers are sales professionals and should understand what the job duties are in their new role. The responsibilities of a sales professional closely mirror those of a job seeker, as a matter of fact, these ARE actual responsibilities taken from a sales job posting:
- Develop new and manage existing relationships by systematic outreach and follow up
- Perform prospecting on the phone and in person to build a pipeline of opportunities
- Strategically manage online and offline brand promotion
- Increase contact volume and enhance image in the community
- Plan and implement a marketing strategy/campaign
- Write strong technical and marketing materials
- Monitor activities and performance to ensure activities meet or exceed established plan
Develop relationships and build a pipeline. Just as sales professionals must identify the companies who need their product or service; you must identify companies who could use your services. Sales professionals develop a large pipeline of potential customers, not just those who have an immediate need. Their prospective customer includes anyone who could potentially use their product. The million dollar question is: How? Sales professionals target customers in different ways. One way is by identifying similar products they may use. In your case, look at companies who already employ people who do what you do. Search LinkedIn for job titles and see which companies have your job. Or you could look at what companies are doing. Are they growing? Did they win a new contract? You can identify companies that will have a future need for the problem your services solve. Once you have identified these targets, you would create a sales pitch for each individual company based on what they would gain by using your service.
Brand promotion. As you know, you have a personal brand or personal reputation. How are you strategically managing this and promoting it within the community? Sales professionals participate in trade shows, industry events, and local events. Likewise, you should seek opportunities to attend and perhaps even speak at events in your area of expertise. Get out of the house! And don't forget to build a reputation online by embracing LinkedIn groups and actively participate in discussions or by answering questions and helping others on other social networks.
Strong marketing communication skills. Every email, pitch, and proposal a salesperson sends and every conversation they have can determine whether they will get the sale or not. Learn how to write and speak clearly and concisely. Your message must be put in terms your prospective employer will value and appreciate. This means, be sure to talk about the benefits of hiring you, not just your features (skills and abilities).
Have a strategy and measure it. Having a strategy means more than applying to every job that looks interesting. Purposely focus on companies and people who you know could use your services. We call this target marketing and it happens in advance of a job posting. Don't overlook the power of connecting with recruiters, which means more than just sending them your resume. Now measure it.
How many people did you reach out to this week? How many new leads or contacts did you get? How many jobs did you apply to? How many interviews did you have? How many hours did it take you to do all this?
Have you ever seen a sales professional's weekly progress report? These are the kinds of metrics they are asked to track. You should too.
Other duties as assigned. No job description would be complete without this caveat. It is one of the most important job responsibilities. It requires you to be resilient, flexible, and adaptable. In today's rapidly changing world, you need this almost as much as you need sales skills.
Thick skin. The one attribute sales people possess, which more job seekers need to acquire, is the ability to deal with rejection. It is part of their job. Sales people realize that not every opportunity will convert into a sale. As a job seeker, not every lead or every interview will translate into a job offer. Be prepared for this. Learn how to cope with the fact you may never know the real reason you weren't called in for an interview or selected for a job. Just keep moving forward, adapting your strategies to favor those that are successful.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.