Have you ever been a salesperson?
If you’ve held a full-time or a part-time position that had “sales” in its job title or as its core activity, you’ve been a salesperson, of course. But there are many jobs in which “non-salespeople” engage in activities that essentially involve selling.
For example, most of us, at one time or another, have had to persuade someone of our position. That’s selling. Sometimes we must negotiate; that’s selling, too.
I bring up the issue of sales because if you are looking for a job – any job – you must employ successful sales techniques to convince a potential employer that you are the person to hire.
For those who feel they could never be a salesperson or who cringe at the thought of selling themselves, I say you have no choice. You must do it; you can do it; and the most effective selling techniques are those that involve the least “selling.” (In fact, you may be a great salesperson and not even recognize it.)
When you think of the quintessential salesperson, you probably conjure the image of a car salesman (new or used, take your pick) who is a hard-driving, relentless pest. He won’t let you leave the showroom until you buy, and he’ll use any tactic, including browbeating, to get you to sign on the dotted line.
I won’t deny there are plenty of salesmen like that in many industries. But there are tens of thousands of salespeople whom you’ve never heard of who make millions of dollars a year by delivering products and services wanted by their clients – who truly like dealing with the salesperson!
The key to these successful salespeople is that they listen intently. By asking the right questions and then shutting their mouths, the best salespeople elicit the problem their client or prospect is trying to solve. Most clients feel no need to buy an XYZ Widget, for example. But if a salesperson can show how an XYZ Widget can save the buyer money, make money, speed a process or in some way make the buyer’s life easier, a sale will be made.
It’s the same thing with a job seeker. Employers don’t exist to hire you and further your career. They hire you to solve a problem. That’s why, when you go on an interview, your main goal is to find out about the company, the particular area that’s doing the hiring, and what the specific problem is that the person hired will solve. Encourage the person doing the hiring to talk, then shut up and listen.
As your potential employer explains his or her needs, take mental notes. When it’s your turn to talk, explain how you’ve solved similar problems at other jobs or how your background and experience lends itself to the problems at hand.
If the chemistry is right (and chemistry is always subjective), if you listen intently, and if you offer a satisfactory solution to your prospective employer’s problems, you are very likely to get the job. That’s the kind of selling most of us can do.
(C) Copyright 2002 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by Paradigm News, Inc.