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How to Sell in a Downturn When the Product Is…You

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So, you’re looking for a sales job? Yes, it’s a tough market right now. And yes, a lot of other talented reps you know are also on the market. But hey, selling is what you do. You got this. Here’s how to adapt your sales skills to your job search, understand your place in the market, sell yourself in an interview, and close the deal on your candidacy.

Position yourself for success

Think of the hiring team as your prospect. They’re in-market and are signalling a readiness to buy (sharing a job description or call for applications). By those measures, you have a qualified prospect, even at the application stage. Use your research skills to find out what the prospect company’s pain points are and what they need in a new hire. Then use those to position yourself perfectly.

“Messaging consistency is just as important in interviewing as it is in sales. Be consistent. Everything from your initial application materials for a sales job through to the interviewer asking you to walk through your sales experience should use the same data points that prove your strong market position.”

Messaging consistency is just as important in interviewing as it is in sales. Be consistent. Everything from your initial application materials for a sales job through to the interviewer asking you to walk through your sales experience should use the same data points that prove your strong market position.

Keep an eye on the competitive landscape for each sales job

One of the core skills for any salesperson is to know their competitors. This is especially true now, when the economic situation has made it an employer’s market. There are likely a lot of people competing with you for whatever job you’re interviewing for. 

 

You of course can’t research other individual interviewees the way a salesperson can research their company’s competitors. But you can ask for feedback during the interview process – and, in cases when you don’t get the job, after it – that can give you a clearer sense of what you’re up against. What are some of the things that have impressed your interviewer about other candidates they’ve interviewed? Why did they choose the person they chose? What are they looking for in the role, when it comes to specific sales skills? These are all questions you can ask.

What’s your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)?

The hardest part of job hunting is also arguably the hardest part of sales: Standing out from the crowd. Just like you would when approaching a new product or service, it’s time to hone your unique value proposition for a sales job. What is it that you’re better at than anyone else and how can you put that to work for the hiring company?

 

You are unique. No one has your exact mix of experience, network, skill, and interest. Are you the life sciences tech sales champion of the lower 48? Got a win rate over 50 percent with Millennial prospects? Are your emails so beautifully crafted that prospects have been known to weep at their inboxes? Find your bright spots and let them shine.

“You are unique. No one has your exact mix of experience, network, skill, and interest.”

The interview process is a demo

Think about the first calls you made on a new product or service. Try to remember how you overcame your initial vulnerability and uncertainty. Is your strategy to bone up on your company’s offer, or cover it with enthusiasm and bluster? How to sell yourself in an interview comes down to applying the tactics that work best for you on a demo call.

 

Prepare well for the questions you know they’re going to ask:

How do you handle objections?

This is a favorite question for sales hiring teams because it gets to both technical knowledge and temperament. Demonstrating you know how to actively listen, repeat back, and use social proof will demonstrate you have good technique, but the way you talk about your targets also says a lot about how you treat people and what kind of churn you’re comfortable with.

What are your career goals?

Sometimes it’s hard to see the longview but important for the interviewer to see ambition and a return on their investment in you, and it’s also vital for your sake that your goals align with the company’s plans. Answering this question involves thinking about your positioning as a candidate and an employee.

How do you remain knowledgeable on trends impacting your sales targets?

If you’ve been looking for work for days or weeks, you may have an advantage over other candidates because you’ve likely brushed up on this more recently. Wow the interviewer by demonstrating your commitment to self-improvement.

Always be closing

The job interview process is not just one sales process. It’s a multitude of them. Each interview serves a different purpose and shows another set of facets of the product – which is you – and aims to establish intent and fit going both ways.

“The end of every sales call is the potential death of a deal. So is the end of every interview. Make sure you’re always pushing the prospect further in their customer journey.”

The end of every sales call is the potential death of a deal. So is the end of every interview. Make sure you’re always pushing the prospect further in their customer journey – or rather, pushing your candidacy further toward a successful close. Pre-empt questions about areas you might be weaker than other candidates, understand the pain points your prospects are solving for, and ask about objections.

 

Selling yourself may seem awkward but it’s worth pushing through in order to seize the opportunities you want. Think of yourself as the offer. Understand your market position. And sell your discerning customers on the best product for their needs: You.