The Most Important Skill You’ll Ever Need

Guest Post by Hannah Morgan

People with a background in sales understand the job search process and are almost always more successful in securing a job faster. If you understand how the sales process works and the fundamental theories of selling, it will help you get what you want in your career.

SALES. A Dirty Slimy Word

The reality is, you are selling yourself, each and every day- whether in job search or on the job. On the job, you have to pitch your ideas and prove you are adding to the company’s bottom line. In job search, you have to find and sell people on your potential value.

The Sales Funnel The logic behind the funnel analogy is that you will feed a lot of leads into the top of the funnel to filter out a smaller number of closed deals. This mirrors the job search process. On the job, it reflects how you may go about presenting ideas. These are the six basic steps to the sales process:

  • Prospecting/Initial contact (who will listen to me and my ideas)
  • Needs assessment (gather and understand requirements)
  • Presentation (present customized solution)
  • Meeting objections/Negotiating (address real barriers and provide win-win solutions)
  • Gaining commitment (getting to “yes”)
  • Follow-up (ensure expectations are being met)

Prospecting: Identify your target audience

Prospecting means you need to identify which companies need your services or who in the organization would value your ideas. Not everyone will be a target. Be purposeful and strategic about who you approach. Also realize that not all leads convert into sales. However, if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

Needs Assessment: Uncovering the pain

Once you have identified these targets, you will need to gather information about what each company is doing and how they are doing it. You want to understand where their problems and pain are. How might you gather that information? Speak with people who are currently working there. Read about them in publications and on their websites. You could even speak with people who used to work there In many instances, you already know some of their problems or why your service would benefit them. Once you have this information, create a sales pitch for each individual company based on what they would gain by using your services.

Presentation: Who to pitch to

You wouldn’t dream of trying to sell your product or service to someone who doesn’t control the budget. It would be a waste of your time. Instead, you would identify the Decision Maker for the department or company. Do they want to talk to you? Of course not. They are busy. And in many cases they don’t believe they have a problem that needs solving or fixing. However, the great sales person finds the magic words to get the meeting. It takes persistence. It takes confidence. So why do you keep sending resumes to HR? Do they control the budget?

Objections/Negotiations: What is the real reason?

Many times people give the easy, pat reason for not buying something- too expensive or not the right fit. But, those aren’t the real reasons. Ask clarifying questions to find out what the real concerns are. “If I could resolve this issue, are there any other issues standing in the way of our doing business?” “If I understand you, (you’re saying that…)” “Tell me more about that” Perhaps you haven’t clearly connected the dots for them. And remember, every deal is negotiable, from landing a job offer to presenting a solution to your manager. It isn’t just a yes or no. You can and should enter into negotiations to make the outcome a win-win for both parties involved.

Follow-Up: It isn’t over yet

Once you’ve been offered the job or the proposal has been accepted, don’t let your guard down. Reconnect and discuss how you have met their expectations. In a job, that means regularly sitting down with your supervisor/manager and talking about how you are doing and setting goals together. Hearing the bad and the good allows you to adjust your sails and set the right course as you navigate your career.

Hannah Morgan is a writer and speaker on topics to help new job seekers understand how to navigate the treacherous terrain of job search. You can read more about reputation management, job search strategies on her blog, Career Sherpa. Follow Hannah on Twitter too!