I have run Glenborn now for 5 years and we have always concentrated on placing candidates in the sales function. Recruiting for sales folks is not an exact science but there is a distinct pattern in how people get successfully placed which candidates embarking on a search should take into account. If you reverse engineer the patterns behind the matches, you can better align yourself in your job search to making sure you get the opportunities you are pursuing or to make sure those opportunities find you! Here are the key patterns that recruiters (internal and external) look for to see if they want you to come into an interview….
- Functional match. (Duh!) Your function of sales needs to be abundantly clear and consistent across lots of different roles. Clever titles that mask the fact that you were in sales may lead to hiring firms turning a blind eye to you. There should be no doubt that, upon reading a resume, this person is in sales and has been consistently in that function.
- Industry orientation match. Companies want to hire people with expertise selling in their industry or in an adjacent industry that has similarities to what they are selling. Recruiters need to see a logical connection to their industry and are looking for those firms in similar or adjacent spaces. If you don’t work for a firm that is well known in those spaces make sure you describe what the firm does below the company name and mention more well-known competitors that will “Pop” for the recruiters.
- Vertical orientation / Rolodex match. Hiring firms want to hire sellers that know how to sell to their key verticals. If the firm is retail oriented they want to see retail clients listed on your linkedin profile and in your resume. Yes name dropping is OK and expected. Again, they are looking for that to “pop”. It is ok to cover the bases and identify a few verticals areas of strength. If you feel you are too much of a generalist to be that specific you should still categorize your clients into groups to placate the recruiter with specialist vertical needs.
- Performance requirement match. Having a history of W2 performance, quota (over)achievement, raw dollars closed, ability to bring on new marquis clients etc. and for managers: having a history of building up teams / rate of team growth and overall revenue growth. – all of these factors are massively important to firms hiring in the sales chain of command. Ultimately the hiring managers are looking for the confidence that you can make things happen while working for them. Highlight previous performance in your Linkedin profile and resume.
Here is the logic thus far:
# 1 is mandatory and you can get away with [(#2 OR #3)+#4] but [(#2 + #3)+ #4] is far better!
That is what you need to get your foot in the door. Once there, the following factor determines the result. (assuming of course that the title, scope of role is right and base / OTE comp are also within range)
- Soft factors. Cultural fit. In person presence. Eye contact. Body language. Presentation skills. Friendliness. Team dynamics. Follow up skills. Closing skills (on next steps and asking for the job).
So when you reverse engineer that approach to guide your next job search here are the key takeaways….
- Only apply for roles where there is a logical tie between industry orientation OR vertical orientation BUT preferably both. If neither match is there, don’t bother applying.
- Make sure your resume is clear on functional orientation and that both industry and vertical orientation POP! Clearly position your past employers into defined industry categories and name drop their competitors so recruiters can place your industry orientation. Group clients by vertical and name drop them.
- Clearly talk about previous performance. Use action oriented (not task oriented verbs) that tie to performance. Use percentages, $$ figures and rankings to get their attention.
- Don’t be reactive! You already know your industry and vertical orientation cold so proactively search along those lines – If you get the alignment right in your search at the start then your success rate at the end will be far greater. If you are in the Digital Media arena, try out www.jobelevation.com, our platform that takes this logic and applies it to your search.