Looking to land a sales job you're excited about, but don't know where to start? Here's some tips.
Even if you haven't been working in sales long — or have no experience at all — you probably know that there are a lot of sales jobs out there. The sales function is critical to the success of any company; according to a LinkedIn survey of over 4,000 recruiting managers, sales roles were identified as the highest-priority positions to fill.
Yet, despite the number and variety of sales jobs, it can be a challenge to find the position that's the right fit for you and your sales style. When you do find what seems to be your dream job, you want to do everything you can to land it. Here are some tips and techniques to help you get the sales job you've always wanted.
Learn about the sales industry
Before you apply for jobs and start to interview for them, it's important that you become familiar with the sales industry itself. Take the time to explore various books, videos, online courses, and other resources so that you're knowledgeable and confident during your job hunt. Here are some resources to get you started:
According to a report by Jobvite, recruiters use LinkedIn to research job candidates more than any other social media site.
When you're new to sales and actively looking for a job, LinkedIn can be a useful tool for not only landing your ideal position, but also finding out about it in the first place. One research study estimates that 85 percent of all open jobs are filled via networking, which means that LinkedIn can be a useful vehicle for expanding your network and learning about new opportunities from your connections. This is particularly true if you're trying to get your foot in the door in the sales industry.
Some of the other ways you can use LinkedIn to find your dream sales job are:
Endorsements and recommendations: Don't be shy about asking clients, co-workers, or bosses to give you a LinkedIn recommendation, even if your previous roles were not related to sales. When recruiters are checking out your LinkedIn profile, they'll be impressed to see endorsements and recommendations on your strong work ethic and relationship-building skills.
A strong profile: You don't need years of sales experience to get noticed on LinkedIn. From having a professional photo to a well-written job history, you can develop a winning LinkedIn profile that stands out in comparison to other sales candidates.
Tailor your resume and cover letter
Updating your resume to target the specific job description you're applying for is also important. If you've worked in a different industry in the past but are ready for a job in sales, your resume must reflect that.
You will want to highlight positions and/or experiences in which you demonstrated strong communication skills, perseverance, and competitiveness — all of which are key to succeeding in sales.
Keep in mind that you'll also need to speak articulately about those work experiences in an interview. Make it clear that although you're new to sales, you have transferable knowledge and skills that make you a great candidate for the position.
Highlight transferable experience
Even if you've never worked in sales before, you may be more prepared to take the leap and enter the industry than you think. Chances are you have transferable skills that you've developed through your work experiences that will enable you to thrive in a sales role.
Throughout the application process, it's essential that you highlight your sales-related transferable skills. If you've worked in customer service, for example, conveying that you're attentive, goal-oriented, a good problem solver, and have the ability to read customers can help you secure a job in sales with no experience.
Deliver a strong pitch
When interviewing for a sales position, there is an expectation of strong verbal communication skills and interpersonal dexterity that demonstrates your ability to sell.
Successfully interviewing for a sales position involves more than having good answers to commonly-asked questions. It also requires having a thoughtful, well-practiced pitch that shows you've researched the company and its products, and that you're ready to hit the ground running if hired.
Whether you're interviewing with HR or the hiring manager, you should be ready to deliver a pitch that sounds something like the one that might be delivered by current members of the sales team.
Of course, it won't sound exactly the same, as you won't have had the benefit of sales materials or training, but your pitch should be convincing enough that the hiring manager can see your potential for success.
Negotiate your offer with finesse
You understandably want to land a job with a great compensation package. When you're close to accepting your dream sales job offer, it's important to determine if the compensation structure is one you can live with long term. If it isn't, you may need to negotiate the offer.
When you're negotiating a job offer, it's important to be professional and flexible. If you think the commission formula undervalues certain types of sales, then explain your views to the hiring manager or HR.
Politely ask if they will consider an alternate commission structure. Many companies have a compensation plan in place that is applied fairly to the whole sales team, so they may not be willing to change it.
However, there may be an opportunity to adjust your base salary or another component of the job offer instead. It may also take time for the company to consider your concerns so be patient.
The hiring process can be challenging and even stressful for companies and candidates alike. Yet, when you find the sales job of your dreams, there are things you can do to demonstrate that you're the candidate they've been looking for all along.
Not sure how to highlight your sales skills on your resume? Our professional resume writers know the trick.
This article was updated in November 2020. It was originally written by Melanie Haniph.