So, you’ve been “restructured” out of the organization you’ve been working at for nine years! Your résumé is out of date. You are out of touch with your network. The company has provided you with a severance package aligned to your years of service and they have provided you with a “career transition program.” You head straight to the internet to find a job posting and there is a long list of potential opportunities that you think you will be well suited. It’s exciting but also daunting.
During the first few weeks, you meet with your career transition consultant, who helps you update your résumé and polish up your LinkedIn profile so that it truly reflects your brand. Basically, you’ve done the first polish on the product you are about to sell – you! Welcome to the world of sales, you have just got the job you said you never wanted to do!
Over the next month or two, you attend a workshop on networking, which you believe you already know what that’s about but don’t. You need to start getting out there into the job market. So, let’s assume that you’ve worked through a search strategy with your career transition coach. The strategic search approach might be by industry sector, geographical preference (my personal favorite), functional expertise, or combination of all three.
How many meetings do I need to get to generate a job offer? There are many factors that contribute to the answer to this question including:
- How strong is my personal network?
- How good am I at picking up the phone?
- How comfortable am I to ask for a referral?
- How confident am I in my expertise and potential value?
- How good are my communication skills?
You can stew around in those juices for quite some time but the net of it is you need to generate a lot of activity! For an example:
- 10 calls/emails/letters requesting a 20-minute networking meeting could result in
- Five face-to-face meetings which could lead to
- Two additional referrals for face to face networking meetings
- So now you’ve had 7 face-to-face networking meetings
That can take time to coordinate calendars, confirm appointments, and sometimes rebook those meetings – we’re talking weeks!
To make this happen, let’s reverse the process. Let’s say you want to have at least two meetings per day or 10 per week. In order to get those 10 meetings, you need to have contacted at least 20 potential contacts. Now let’s say that out of those 10 meetings you uncover one job opportunity. Realistically, you want to be looking for at least four or five viable opportunities. So, do the math: you’ll need to reach out to approximately 100 contacts/referrals to generate the activity you’ll need to find those four or five opportunities. For simplicity’s sake, you need to be doing way more activity than you are probably doing which takes a lot of focus and energy! Your career transition coach can help you to become an effective marketer of your brand to the market but at the end of the day you need to generate the activities.
Now that you are in sales, here are some things to consider that sales people “do best:”
- Maintain Discipline and Focus: Set daily goals. One sales person I know puts 10 peas in their left pocket every morning and then don’t go home until they have transferred each of those peas into their right pocket after they have contacted a potential “buyer.”
- Record: Keep accurate call records with meeting notes and action items, then follow up, follow up and follow up! “80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes!”
- Know the Product: The product is you; how well can you explain who you are and the potential value you bring to an organization in 30-60 seconds or less.
- Align Their Expertise with what the customer is looking for. For example, you are a skilled, certified, project manager which means the customer doesn’t need to invest in training for you which means you will be up and running quickly and therefore a contributing member of the team!
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Great sales people practice what they are going to say; record your opening statement and then listen to yourself. You may want to practice that again!
- Thank their contacts for their time they have spent. Look the person in the eye and shake hands like you mean it!
- Ask for the order – that could be:
- Asking for an introduction for someone in their network
- Asking what the next step in the interview process is
- Asking the interviewer if there is anything else they would like to know about you –
- Asking the interviewer if they see you as a “fit” for the position
- Asking the interviewer their decision-making process
- Handle Objections: Anticipate potential objections and have a practiced response (record it on a list).
- Summarize: Summarize the meeting in a few sentences, highlighting what you have learned about their organization, what you like about their organization, and the potential value you could bring to their organization.
- Write: Write a letter expressing your appreciation and reiterate why you want to work for their organization.
Looking for a job is a full-time job. It takes energy focused on the right activities. The reward is a great new job in a company you want to work for. Good luck and good selling!
Anne Kerrigan Miller is Vice President, Strategic Accounts with Feldman Daxon Partners.
- On September 27, 2017