Being a recruiter for four years now, primarily a sales recruiter, it’s astonishing to see well-qualified candidates get a thumbs-down during an interview process. “How is that possible?” I would ask myself from time to time. You may or may not believe the simple and easily fixable reasons candidates get turned down.
Let’s start from the beginning, you’re a candidate, a sales candidate, and you’re on the hunt for a new opportunity. You’ve applied and been called in for your first interview. You’ve dry-cleaned your suit, you’re 10-15 minutes early, you have your resumes and a brag book, and you’re ready to crush.
These are the three easy ways to win or lose a sales job.
Do Your Homework
Imagine, sitting on the other side of the table to your future manager and director of sales. Everyone has shaken hands and the small talk about traffic, weather, LeBron in the finals again, all of that has subsided and it’s time to get into the conversation.
The first question of the day, “Tell us what you know about our company, this position, and why you think you’d be a good fit.” Panic sets in, you’ve only looked up the name of the company and the address. You try to remember everything about the job posting you applied to, position responsibilities, title of the role, but unfortunately, the only thing that comes to mind is the juicy compensation package.
You have to do your homework. How can you be prepared for a test if you didn’t study? Having a quick look at the company’s website will tell you a lot. What type of products they sell, how many locations they’re in, sometimes even a brief history of the company. Check out the “about us” link, knowing those few paragraphs will go further than you think.
Imagine, you are scrolling your feed on LinkedIn through the news articles and random self-promotions of others. You aren’t typically the one to comment, like, or share anything. Just sort of browsing in the shadows with a default blank profile pic and your last update was from 2006 when you initially opened your account. As you’re scrolling along, the LinkedIn algorithm tosses a job posting into your line of sight. It’s a good-looking sales role at a company you’re very familiar with. The compensation is right, the timing is right, you hit the apply button. You’re qualified, your resume is filled with President’s Club awards, impressive sales metrics and leadership experience.
Fast forward two weeks into the future. You’re scrolling through your LinkedIn feed and wouldn’t you know it, one of your connections updated their profile with a “new position” … you guessed it, THAT position. How could this happen? You click on their profile and it’s beautiful. Fresh, updated headshot, a few articles they’ve written in the past about sales and leadership, there is a great summary of their sales goals, experiences and awards. There are even a few recommendations from previous clients and managers on their page as well.
As you read through, you begin to realize that LinkedIn is much more than a source of news, articles and latest professional trends. It’s a place to market yourself!
Update and fill out your entire LinkedIn page (here’s mine for reference). Your resume is only half the battle in today’s world. When you’re a sales rep, you’re client-facing 80 percent of the time or more. Make sure that your clients and prospects are able to see who they’re going to be speaking too, and have an idea of your background. Since the client doesn’t receive a resume, it’s very important to update your LinkedIn profile regularly.
Don’t laugh, but some candidates still do not write a thank-you note after their interview. If you learn nothing else from this article, learn this, write a thank-you note. The same day of the interview is great. I recommend the same day no matter what time the interview is conducted. The next day is acceptable as well.
Researching the importance of the thank-you note, I found “a recent survey conducted by TopResume confirmed that a job candidate’s thank-you note (or lack thereof) impacts that person’s chances of landing the job. When asked, “After interviewing a candidate, does receiving a thank-you email/note impact your decision-making process?” Sixty-eight percent of hiring managers and recruiters replied that yes, it matters. In fact, nearly one in five interviewers have completely dismissed a candidate because they didn’t receive a thank-you email or note after an interview.” Don’t overlook this simple, yet important part of the interview process.