When you’re applying for a sales role, hiring managers aren’t just looking for someone who matches a list of qualifications—they’re looking for someone who can walk in and show why they’re the right one for the job.
As the VP of Sales here at The Muse, I know what qualifications and attributes hiring managers are looking for. In the past year alone, I’ve hired more than 20 people for my team. (And looking for more—apply now!) The biggest secret I can tell you is that you need to approach this process like a sales call. After all, you’re selling the product you know best: Yourself!
How do you do that? By following these three steps:
1. Put Together a Brag Book
You need to show the interviewer you’re as prepared for this meeting as you would be for a sales call. So once you’ve prepped your elevator pitch and completed your research, it’s time to get your “brag book” together (also known as a “atta girl” or “atta boy” book).
For those of you who are thinking: “Um, what’s a brag book?” basically, it’s a visual compilation of your successes. Because it’s one thing to say you’ve been successful, but it’s another to show it. This may be old school, but it’s powerful.
When asked about your past accomplishments, pull this out and tell the interviewer you put it together to help illustrate what you’re about to talk about. If the conversation (somehow) never gets to this, simply bring it out when you’re asked if you have any questions.
Now, I bet you’re wondering what should be in there. Well, here’s a couple of ideas to start with:
- Reports showing where you rank versus peers in results
- Shoutouts from managers and peers that showcase your leadership skills and your ability to be a team player
- Notes from clients that speak to how much you’ve helped their businesses
- Business plans you created and executed, plus the results
- Any awards and recognition you’ve received
If you can effectively prove you can drive revenue through this compilation of your experience, you’ll very likely be the most prepared candidate the company’s interviewed so far.
2. Prove That You’re Not Only Interested in the Company, You Also Understand the Position
Here’s a scenerio: The hiring manager asks you to talk about a recent sale you’re proud of. Easy enough, right?
Well, in addition to answering it, you should also finish with a question that shows off your research.
“I was looking at your client list, and I was impressed to say the least. On a personal note, I’m a huge fan of Company X. Which sale are you most proud of and why?”
And no, it doesn’t just end there. Listen to his or her answer and then ask, “What was the sales process like? Was there anything unique or different about it that you think made it so successful?”
Overall, the goal here is to make sure the questions you’re asking are relevant enough to flow naturally, but also specific enough to show how interested you are in the ins and outs of the role.
3. Take Notes and Follow Up
After interviewing most candidates, the same question always comes to mind: “Why did you bring a folder or briefcase if you’re not going to take notes?” The amount of times this occurs during the process is really staggering.
Here at The Muse, the information I provide during the interview’s actually really important for you to succeed in the follow-up steps of the process—those who are more thorough stand out in later stages.
Think about how you can make an impression after you’ve left. You think a thank you email is good? Why not also create a 30-60-90 day plan of attack or an outline for a sales call based off the notes you took? If you don’t think you’re getting enough information to do this during the interview, ask questions that will deliver those pertinent follow-up details.
Such as: “What’s the next sales training you’re going to deliver to your team about?”
This question gives you an idea of how much of a learning and development focus the organization has, while also providing a great follow-up opportunity. Let’s say the next training is about the elevator pitch. In your email, you can create a training centered around the elevator pitch for the company you’re interviewing for.
I promise you that this, plus a thank you note, will impress.
Like any sales call, practice makes perfect. Selling yourself isn’t easy—and that’s why it’s important to continually work it. The more you do it, the more you’ll be able to make your product (you!) sound absolutely irresistable.