Monday, October 27, 2008

Work life balance as a sales person

Achieving a balance between your work life and your home life if you are a sales person can sometimes be difficult. We are expected to use the hours from 9 to 5 for customer face time and because we don’t really have fixed work hours, use the hours after 5 for proposal writing, social events etc. We often wonder how to fit it all in with family responsibilities and “me” time.

As a sales person we know that the harder we work, the bigger the paycheque as most often there is a variable portion to sales jobs. We have to be careful not to let the quest for cash rule over everything. A well balanced sales person has a better chance of coming back from a weekend refreshed and ready to do more battle than a sales person who spent their entire weekend working. Creativity and sales go hand in hand so resting your brain or changing the air can actually help you perform better on Monday morning.

We generally have the luxury of planning our own schedules. We should use this carefully. Is there a natural ebb and flow to your business? Are there quieter periods during every week, month or year? You can use those times to for administrative duties. Plan carefully for those times and schedule those things that we tend to put off.

It is important to do a variety of different things with your time. It will make you a more interesting sales person to your clients and others around you and a side benefit is a healthier mind. All of these things will help us in oour day job; selling.

Happy selling

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Do I need to make a great impression on the sales recruiter?

You’re just going to see a sales recruiter. No need to put on your best behaviour and best suit?? Not a great idea. Keep in mind that we are the gatekeepers to the client and will make recommendations to the customer as to who they should meet and interview. That is, after all, why they have hired us.

I am still amazed by candidates who arrive late and offer no explanation. Or better yet, don’t arrive appropriately dressed. I assume that you wear your best suit to the interview so it’s downhill after this. I say this sarcastically but there is some truth to this. I believe that I have said this in the past but you can never be over dressed for an interview but you sure can be underdressed.

Some customers are very friendly and try hard to get the candidate to relax. Some sales candidates rely on their charm and fall into the trap and become overly familiar too quickly. This also happens with the recruiter. In both instances, you need to be friendly but don’t invade someone’s space. This can give the recruiter the impression that this is how you sell.

As a sales recruiter, I often ask myself, “would I buy from this person”. The answer to this question might seal this candidate’s fate.

Finding the right balance between friendly and business-like is important to passing from the 1st step in the hiring process to the all important 2nd step; the meeting with the client. How you follow up is also important. Do you call several times without leaving a message? Remember we all have caller display. Leave a message. Professionals will always call you back.

Keep in mind that you are always selling something so be mindful of how you act, what you say and how you look. Most importantly, be yourself. You want to be hired for you.

Happy selling

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Non verbal communication and sales people

According to the scientist Mehrabian, what we say accounts for only 7% of how we are perceived. Tone of voice accounts for 38% and 55% is body language. The exact percentages can be debated but what remains true is that what we say is only part of the picture. Our credibility as sales people depends on all 3 of these factors working in harmony.

As a sales recruiter, I see many sales people who interview with me and believe it or not won’t make eye contact or cross their arms. These kinds of things tell me right away that something is wrong. During the sales interview how you explain difficult situations and how they were resolved is going to tell the interviewer about your credibility. If you were fired from a job, practice how you will explain the situation. I’m not saying make it up but run it by someone else to get their feedback. You need to be 100% honest or else it might come back to bit you.

The initial phone call is also important. If you are sleeping, let the phone go to voice. I can usually hear that in your voice. If you are job hunting, train your family members on how to answer the phone and what to say. I once called a candidate at 3 pm and his wife answered and told me that he was having a nap. This is not the best 1st impression.

Follow these simple rules:
 Smile
 Sit up straight
 Make eye contact but don’t stare
 Leaning forward slightly can show that you are interested in what your interviewer is saying
 Moderate the tomne of your voice according to the situation
 Notice others around you. How do you react their body language?

Happy selling

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Recession proofing your career

Can you recession proof your sales career? Of course you can. As sales people we know that we hold our destiny in our hands. In these uncertain times, we need to be concerned about the economy and our jobs. When your employer has to make job cuts, your role is the make sure that you don’t make the “cut”. Strong and consistent sales performance almost always guarantees that you get to keep your job. If however, you do get the axe with stellar performances, ensure that you get glowing letters of reference before you leave. Don’t take it personally and leave with your head high. It will surely not take you too long to find a new place to hang your hat because “sales” is the one role that all companies will still look for in an economy heading south.

Another way to recession-proof your career is to continue networking outside of your company. Get to know your customers, meet and continue relationships with other salespeople and attend seminars and self-improvement courses whether they are academic or not. These are great places to meet people in a non-formal setting.

Keep abreast of industry news. Monitor what your competitors are doing and most of all, know what is going on at your company. If your company is publically traded, read the quarterly reports, listen and read analysts comments about your company and engage your managers in conversations about the future of the company.

Either way it plays out, you have an opportunity to shine where you are now or better your lot in life. Look at the situation as the glass half full.

Cheers and happy selling

Friday, July 18, 2008


Everybody wants feedback but usually the good kind. I won’t dwell on the positive one; we all seem to be pretty good at receiving it. As a sales recruiter, I give feedback and receive it from both the client and candidate. This summer I got negative feedback from one of my clients about one of my candidates. I gave the feedback to the candidate so that he could correct it for further interviews. The candidate sought out the client on facebook and sent her a scathing email. This is so wrong on so many levels. As a candidate you do not always have to agree with me or with the client but as I always told my reps “perception is reality”. How others see you is as important as how you see yourself.

I know customers who will not hire a candidate if they do not try to close them for the job after the interview. It could be subtle or more direct. One of the ways is to ask for feedback on how you fare against other candidates or your performance in the interview.
I depend on candidates to give me feedback on their interview too. I want to know if what I have presented as the company and hiring manager is correct. I also want to know how they think they did.

As sales people, isn’t what we do, is give and receive feedback from customers? Doing a needs analysis and ultimately giving a product or service recommendation is feedback. We probe the customer and based on our understanding of his/her pain, we summarize what we learned then deliver a solution.

Look at feedback as a growing process. We should be used to getting it at least on an annual basis from our boss. Use it as a means of improving or changing the perception others have of you.

Happy selling

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Is there a need for a code of conduct or a code of ethics in the recruitment industry?

  1. Have you ever had a prospective employer get a copy of your resume although you never sent it to them?
  2. Ever had a sales recruiter send your resume to a client but you have never even met the recruiter?
  3. Ever have a recruiter “hard sell” you on a position even though you’ve told them no?
  4. Ever have a recruiter call you for a new job even though they placed you in your present position?

    If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then perhaps there is a need for a code of ethics. All of the situations above are questionable ethics at best. Sales recruiting is sales but it is dealing with someone’s career after all. These are methods to get you in a seat as quickly as possible but may not be the best positions or methods for you. It is your career after all.

    A good recruiter will take the time to do a face to face interview with you. Sending your resume without your permission or without having met you, is not good business; for you or for the client.

    It’s also not good business to call a candidate that the recruiter has placed.

    The recruiter works for the client but provides an essential service to the candidate. Find a good sales recruiter (or a few) then learn to work with them. Be honest with your recruiter, respect their time and be honest with your self about what you are looking for.

    Take your career seriously and deal with a sales recruiter who seeks a win, win, win situation; a win for the client, a win for the candidate and a win for themselves.
There is a need and some firms have taken the step to institute a code of conduct. Seek out those firms who can speak to their ethical work methods. In the long run, you'll probably be better served.

Happy Selling

Saturday, February 16, 2008

How do you know if telecommuting is for you?

I have seen more and more employers offering a home office setup. This even includes employers with an office in your city. Some sales people love this because, aren’t we supposed to be out of the office anyway?

Before you jump at the chance to telecommute, make sure it’s for. Some sales reps find that they lack the comradery that they previously had. Do not underestimate the feeling of loneliness. It could lead to feelings of isolation and affect your performance. In addition, some salespeople need the presence of other salespeople to get the adrenaline flowing and they like the friendly competition that daily contact provides.

If you are the type of salesperson that never needs to be reminded to hand in activity reports, forecasts and update your funnel, then telecommuting might be for you. If you are disciplined and generally work well alone, then this might be the path you take.

When working from home it is important that the salesperson know where to seek out resources and how to use them. Telecommuting does not mean that you are alone. Use emails and voice mails with your colleagues in other territories to stimulate that healthy competition.

A salesperson who has been successful working in this manner is probably someone disciplined and mature. Be sure to mention this small fact when interviewing with the employer or sales recruiter.

Happy Selling

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Managing your brand

You are your own brand and every choice you make, tells your audience a little about you.

I met a candidate about 1 year about who had been downsized after 18 years at a large multinational. His life had been all about corporation X. He never took the time to build his "brand". Faced with unemployment at the young age of 47, he had nowhere to turn. His social life and business life was filled with people from corporation X. He never took the time to build his brand. No matter how happy you are in your present position, take time to meet people outside of your company, network at lunches and cocktails. How about picking up a cause that his dear to you. Giving back is a responsibility. It is also a great place to meet like-minded people.

Get out of your comfort zone and go to an even alone. It will force you to meet new people.

What are you all about? Who do you associate with?

Take the time to build solid relationships. Pick up the phone and make time for people. And don't just do it to get something back in return. Do it because you are genuinely interested in meeting new people or learning more about someone.

How about learning a new skill or going back to school? Perfect a skill or go back to school to sharpen or deepen your knowledge. Invest in yourself.

Read more.

Find out what you're good at and teach it to someone else. This is also about giving back.

Don't wait until you need people to need people.

Your brand belongs to you,so master it. This will help you in your current position and future ones but don't wait until you need to build your brand to start. It should be an ongoing effort.

Happy Selling