How To Job Search Like a Salesperson
The competition has never been fiercer
Millions of people are out of work. Every other post on LinkedIn is “I’m looking for a job” or “Can you help my friend find a job?”
If you’re in that category, you’re not alone (and that’s meant to be encouraging!) But how do you set yourself apart from everybody else trying to land an interview?
I was able to give a presentation about this to a group of graduates who were eager to find work. The idea was: instead of going at this like everybody else does, try a different tactic. Stand out. Be more effective. Treating the job search as if you’re a salesperson trying to land a deal puts more structure and planning around an otherwise random and flailing waste of energy.
Here’s what it looked like:
I know it’s tempting to glom onto the first company that’s willing to bring you in but continuing to do that will set you up for an unfulfilling career later on.
Instead, take the time to figure out what you know about yourself.
There’s this Japanese term called ikigai that clearly defines what this is all about. It’s a combination of 4 things.
It’s work that:
- You’re great at
- You love doing
- The world needs
- The world is willing to pay for
Whatever falls into all 4, that’s your ikigai. It’s your calling.
There’s nothing wrong with sticking to your strengths, so start by finding out what it is you rock socks at and that checks all the other boxes.
Setting up an outreach funnel
In sales, a “funnel” is a system that a salesperson brings someone through, to find the paying customers. In the case of job seeking, we have a different end goal in mind.
For sales, it might look something like this:
- Intro Call
- Discovery Call
- Contract Signed
There are a lot fewer people that actually make the purchase than who entered the funnel though. So a salesperson needs to do a lot of prospecting to find those buyers. But what if we applied a funnel to the job search? It would look something like this:
- Interested Party
- Phone Screen
- In Person Interview
- Job Accepted
Looks pretty similar!
Outreach is where a lot of folks fall down. Most job seekers will spray-and-pray their resume, and it doesn’t work.
However: any kind of “touch” in sales parlance counts as outreach. It could be an introduction from a colleague, or an email, or a phone call, or a networking meeting, or a postcard, or a funny meme–anything counts as that outreach touch. And the more kinds of touches you can do, the better the chance you’ll find an Interested Party.
Once you have your funnel in place, it’s time to figure out who you want to reach out to:
Refining your Target Market
Not every company is going to be a fit for your services. Think about who would be most likely to hire you for what you do.
What sector are they in? How big are they? What types of customers do they have? What kinds of challenges are they facing?
Answering all of these will help you figure out exactly who to reach out to. Instead of applying to every company that has a pulse, you can target specific ones–and you can be armed with the knowledge of how you can specifically help them.
When they decide to bring you in for that face to face interview, that’s where the real magic happens:
Once You’re Inside
In a face-to-face, you can read people easier, interact with them smoother, but most importantly, you can build rapport a lot faster.
And the fact is, of all the people who applied, only a small percentage get this far. So you’ve already distinguished yourself pretty well. Now to distinguish yourself further. This is the time to ask really deep questions about how well the company is doing. Every company, no matter how awesome they are, has what’s called Business Pain. Something’s not working right, or isn’t as efficient. So you can ask empathetic questions about exactly what’s bothering them, why the job was open, what keeps them up at night, what gives them heartburn and how their bottom is impacted.
Most applicants will ask questions that are what they think the interviewer wants them to ask. Or they’ll ask questions to position themselves as looking like the best person for the job.
But the actual best person? It’s the one that asks about the Business Pain, and who kinda knows how to solve that.
From there, be sure to get their contact info, for the final step:
Fam, the follow up is where a lot of actual salespeople fall down. They touch a few times and then nothing. But you? That’s not gonna happen, because I’m gonna tell you about how to follow up properly.
First: start by sending some kind of thank you for their time. Amazingly, people still don’t make a habit of that. Postcard, email, personalized video, whatever it is, put your touch on it and send it out.
Next, build yourself some kind of simple system to know when next to follow up. A really low tech way: an Excel spreadsheet. Soon after the meeting, you’ll want to follow up a little more frequently–every couple business days. After 3 follow ups, back it off to every 9 business days. After 3 follow ups there, back if off to every 21 business days.
What this does is keep you in regular touch with people so you can stay top of mind for months and years to come.
And early on, yes you may want to follow up about the progress of the position and to show interest, but when you get to that first back off stage, you can follow up with things like:
- helpful tips relative to their field (and their business pain)
- funny things
- industry related content
Following up like this will distinguish you from everybody else, to be sure. But what it also does is create opportunities for cross-pollenation.
What I mean by that is: someone at Company A that interviewed you might leave and go to Company B, who has the exact challenge you can help solve. Even if you weren’t a fit at Company A, that person will remember you (because you followed up!) and can either bring you on there, or introduce you to a new person they met since joining at Company B.
Hey I’m not a job coach, but I’ve been out in the working world for awhile. As a consultant and business owner in the IT space, I know there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye in every business. It’s deeper than the job req says.
When you can come in, provide awesome value, and communicate that in terms that make sense to the business AND keep in regular contact with them, you’re going to go places.
So don’t wait! Start now! Make the change to make the difference in your career and your life.
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