Many companies are flexible when it comes to hiring salespeople. Rather than expertise or fancy degrees, they’re looking for candidates who have the potential to do “consultative selling.”
Consultative selling isn’t that traditional sales-pitch and sign-on-the-dotted-line stuff. Nobody wants that any more. Consultative selling means researching a potential customer, understanding their needs and presenting a compelling solution.
Thus, unlike other jobs (where the interview process bears little relationship to the eventual job) interviewing for a sales job is more like an audition: the hiring firm will know if you can do the job depending on how well you interview.
This column explains the basics of landing a sales job at a top company. I’ve condensed/expanded it from an article that was published a few years ago on a site that has, alas, since disappeared from the Web. Enjoy!
1. Research the hiring firm
Examine the website of the company you want to join. Notice how they communicate about themselves, how they view their market, and whom they see as their primary customers.
Now use Wikipedia and other online resources to learn the basics and the background of the industry and market. Try to get a sense of how this company fits into the picture.
Then use LinkedIn and online news stories to learn about key individuals in the hiring firm, especially those working in sales and marketing. Those are the people you’ll want to contact in order to land an interview.
2. Write a flawless query letter.
If you’ve been following this column, I write a LOT about sales emails. There is almost no skill more in demand in sales organizations than the ability to write an email that sets ups a meeting.
So, you see, you’re auditioning from the very start. Review my previous columns on the subject. A great query letter will be short and to the point. It will explain in one or two sentences why the sales or marketing manager should interview you.