Whether you’re new to sales and looking to launch your career, or you’re interested in finding a better sales job, you need a sound strategy for how you’re going to find the sales job that best suits your skills and goals.
In sales, the average tenure is shorter than most other industries – between 14 and 30 months. But you have to think of every job as an important steppingstone. Every job you have from this point forward will set the stage for the career that lies ahead of you, so it’s essential to invest time into the process. Don’t rush it. Be intentional in your job search and the sales jobs you’re applying for. Mapping out your ideal career pathway can help you determine your next step.
Doing the right research ahead of time will help you find the perfect sales job for you and help you avoid making the wrong choice for your career.
Finding the right sales job
First, you have to know what you want. This starts with figuring out what kind of work environment, service, product, or industry excites you. If your interests aren’t aligned with the product or solution you plan to sell, or the company that’s selling it, it’s going to be difficult to hit your targets.
What are you looking for?
Ask yourself: Do you want to sell a product or a service? Do you like selling a physical, tangible item, or do you prefer selling intangible expertise? The process of sales and the techniques you’ll use can vary greatly between the two.
You’ll also want to ask yourself what industry attracts you, and if you prefer B2B or B2C sales. For example, a tech salesperson might be selling to IT buyers (CTOs and technical directors) or business buyers (CEOs, CFOs, sales and marketing leaders). Some people love interacting with these professionals; others don’t find that this industry aligns with their interests.
Know the difference between Inside and Outside sales.
If you pursue a B2B sales job, know whether you are interested in Inside or Outside sales. Inside Sales professionals mostly engage prospects remotely (by phone, email or video calls), rather than in person. Outside Sales professionals travel to meet with clients in person. Most sales professionals are better suited to one or the other. They like the personal interaction of the office, for example; or they love traveling and working on their own. They thrive with team collaboration; or they’re more self-motivated.
You’ll also want to look for sales jobs in the right places. Platforms like TitanHouse can help you find jobs that fit your interests and your resume, quickly.
Leverage your network.
You probably have more valuable connections in your network than you realize. Update your social media profiles and let people know you’re looking. Use direct connections to inquire about openings or get referrals. Make sure you follow prospective target companies on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook so that you are always up to speed and know what is top of mind for them. And remember that a vast number of sales jobs are filled through referrals. Build your network by attending industry events to position yourself as a top candidate for a current or future opening.
Research potential companies.
Once you’ve decided what type of sales you’re interested in, and you have identified some possible opportunities, do some research on the companies that align with your interests. Think about whether or not the company is the right fit. How big are they? What stage of growth are they in? Where are they located? What are their values? Resources like Glassdoor are a good place to start, as are the company’s career page and social media accounts.
Watch out for red flags.
Watch out for mentions of red flags like poor investment in proper sales training or sales tools, a low Gartner’s Magic Quadrant ranking and/or a low G2 Crowd rating. Do your own due diligence to make sure the company’s product is competitive in the marketplace. No matter how great a salesperson you are, if you aren’t selling a great product and you’re not getting enough company support, you won’t succeed.
Preparing your resume
Finding the right sales job starts with creating a resume that will land you your dream job. Don’t rush this process; your resume will be the first thing many employers see about you.
When you’re writing a sales resume, it’s critical to add hard numbers that showcase your results. For example, what was your quota and percentage of quota achievement? Where did you rank on your team? What was your average contract value? What was your average sales cycle? Keep your sales resume numbers up to date.
Think about what makes you stand out.
Other than numbers, you’ll also want to list what sales tools you are familiar with, what trainings you’ve had, any awards you’ve received, and what soft skills make you stand out.
Use a visually appealing format.
Avoid resume fillers that aren’t adding real value. Once you know what content you want to include, choose a format that is simple and easy to read. It should be visually appealing without being too text-heavy or too graphically unusual. There are a number of helpful resume templates and tools online, including TitanHouse’s free sales resume creation tool for registered users.
Post your resume in the right places.
Once you’ve created a winning resume, put it online in the right places where employers are looking, like LinkedIn or TitanHouse. If you are applying for a specific sales job, change your profile to reflect the specifics of that position. On some platforms, you may not be able to post a PDF but will be asked to input the content into different fields. Take the time to do this carefully; it will be worth it.
Applying to Win
When applying for a position, don’t just send in your resume and forget about it. Make sure you go above and beyond and show how eager you are to land this position. Learn about the company and your potential position, and show this knowledge in your application.
When you apply, don’t send a general application “to whom it may concern”! Instead, find out who you will be working for and who the recruiting manager is, and write to them. Send an introductory email, LinkedIn message, or cover letter explaining why you are interested in the position and how you will produce for the company.
If you don’t hear back, follow up – just like you would with a client. Be professional and considerate, but don’t stop following up until they give you a hard ‘no’. Even then, know that ‘no’ means ‘not right now’. If you really want to work for the company, keep following up occasionally and see if any new roles have opened up.
Nailing the interview
When you land a sales interview, the real work starts. Never go into any sales job interview blindly. The time you spend preparing for the interview will pay off in dividends by making you stand out from other interviewees.
Do your research.
Research the business or company you’re interviewing to work for. This doesn’t mean a cursory glance at their website; it means looking at all their social media accounts, media coverage, their competitors, their founder, their financial backers, and any information you can find about the product they’re selling and the specific industry. Also use Gartner, Forrester, and G2 as data sources.
Also, make sure you come prepared with your data memorized; know your sales numbers and what makes you the best candidate for the job. And bring your passion; know why you’re passionate about this sales job, and that will come through in the interview.
Sell your skills.
The interview is arguably more important in sales than any other career, because it’s essentially a “tryout” for the job of selling. In an interview, you’re selling yourself. Make sure you arrive early, dress well, and come prepared with a copy of your resume. Know your talking points ahead of time. Make eye contact. Speak articulately.
Hiring managers also look for coachability. They don’t want sales professionals who think they know it all; they want professionals who are confident and knowledgeable, but are also open to being trained and not stuck in old habits. It’s important to get this quality across in your interview.
It’s important to be honest about your background. If you’ve experienced any setbacks that show up on your resume, explain how you dealt with setbacks in those situations, and reasons for any shortstops or issues.
Always, always be prepared with at least one question.
Without fail, you will be asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview. Be prepared with at least one question, and preferably more, because some of these may be answered in the course of the interview.
Here are some examples:
- What training is offered? (Note: This is an important one. There are many questions you can ask to get more details on the types of training offered).
- How is the compensation plan structured?
- How are sales leads sourced?
- What tools, resources and support are available to the sales team?
The Job Offer
When you get a sales job offer, congratulate yourself! All of the hard work you put into applying and interviewing paid off. But before you sign, you have to evaluate the offer and make sure it’s the right fit for you.
Evaluating the offer.
Is the company really the right fit for you? It’s easy to think so before you get the offer, but now that it’s a reality, in what ways will this position advance your career? Will you enjoy working there? What is the company culture like?
Consider things like rep to manager ratio, SDR or SE interaction and support, and sales training offered. Does the company actually offer sales training or simply product training? Is there room for growth and development, or will you have leave in order to grow?
Also consider the company’s competitiveness, because your financial success depends strongly on how valuable its product or service is. Does the value proposition as much make sense today as it did at the product’s inception? What is the product’s TAM (Total Addressable Market)?
Negotiating the offer.
This is important: Sales leaders expect reps to negotiate their offer. Negotiation is part of your job, so it is expected that it will also be part of your offer process.
Common negotiation points on compensation include base salary, variable pay, bonus and equity (but understand that if you ask for more money, you should be prepared to take on a higher quota).
When you’re negotiating, make sure you’re negotiating with the decision maker, not the middleman. Start high, and clearly define your ask. Make sure you have the ability to earn more if you overperform.
When negotiating, be confident but respectful, the same way you would be with a client. And get everything in writing; you don’t have a real offer until you have an offer in writing.
Once you accept an offer, try not to let a lot of time pass before your state date. It’s best to get started ASAP. You want to demonstrate to the leadership team that they made the right decision, that you are eager to perform well, and that you are an ‘A’ player.
You probably did a lot of research on the company before your interview, but do some more to get up to speed. Read the company’s blog posts and any new industry research that has just come out. Ask if there are any company resources you can review ahead of time. Are there accounts you can get up to speed on before your first day on the job? Familiarize yourself with the sales stack, and make sure you have the right tools to get started quickly.
Always remember that no one is looking out for you but you. You may have found your dream sales job for today, but don’t abandon your network. Things can change quickly; leadership can change, markets can change, and your goals can change.
Maintain your network and always keep your options open. This doesn’t have to mean actively looking for new roles, but never stop entertaining new conversations. Your career in sales will be a dynamic one. You’ll grow through new opportunities and new challenges.