You’re Always Vying for Second Place

May 27, 2009 by QBS Research, Inc.  
Filed under job hunting tips

In my new book, Selling Yourself in Today’s Competitive Marketplace, I talk extensively about “Your Next Job Interview,” as it serves up the perfect metaphor for selling yourself. During a job interview, you are not only responsible for selling yourself, you are also the product that’s being sold.

That said, here’s a strange tip coming from a sales trainer. If you are pursuing an exciting new opportunity in the job market, then I would advise you to position for second place.

There’s usually no such thing as the perfect candidate. The “perfect” candidate would always have more experience and a better track record. They will have also had more training and better references. Add to that the fact they may have been the valedictorian in college, a former Miss America, or a decorated war veteran, and alas, you have the perfect candidate!

It’s actually fine to have weaknesses. More than likely you’re not competing against perfection, anyway. Rather, you’re competing against other candidates who have a resume full of strengths and weaknesses. You just need to make sure that the combined total of your strengths, minus any perceived weaknesses, is greater than whoever else is applying for the job.

I actually think it puts you in a strong position to verbally acknowledge the fact that you’re not perfect. The goal isn’t to sound negative or pessimistic. But, I can tell you that I would be quick to say to a hiring manager, “There probably is no such thing as the perfect candidate for this position. While my strengths include aaaaa, bbbbb, and ccccc, I would want to focus my energy on developing my skills in the areas of yyyyy and zzzzz in order to become productive as quickly as possible.

Most decision makers are realistic and are comforted by the fact that a candidate (or salesperson) is aware that there are some areas that need more attention than others. In fact, a willingness to acknowledge and focus on one’s weaknesses may just be one of your greatest strengths.

The moral to this story is simple. The perfect candidate for a job will always win hands down. Therefore, you are really vying for second place–which includes those times where there is no such person as ‘the perfect candidate.’ If you can elevate yourself to be perceived as the best out of those who do have strengths and weaknesses, then I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that you will win most of the time.

By the way, in a competitive marketplace, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” solution. Think about it!

Interviewing Advice for Candidates

March 22, 2009 by QBS Research, Inc.  
Filed under job hunting tips

One piece of advice I would offer with regard to the notion of selling yourself is to be prepared to discuss how you plan to succeed. Success rarely happens by accident, and if you were interviewing for a position within my company, the first thing I would want to know is, “Do you have a plan for being successful in this job?”

Successful people plan their work and they work their plans. They have a vision for what is required to be successful and the ability to communicate that vision to others. Even our best laid plans don’t always pan out as we had originally envisioned them, however, so the ability to make reasonable and intelligent adjustments along the way is critically important. Shooting from the hip is no longer a viable strategy in today’s business environment.

Potential employers are just like prospective customers in the sense that they want to know that you are confident in your abilities, and you have the foresight and fortitude necessary to make things happen in ways that will benefit them and you.

Even with a notable track record, we must recognize that in a competitive environment, you will rarely be the only candidate (or vendor) being considered. Other qualified candidates will also garner a serious look. Hence, the purpose of an employment interview is not just to review one’s honors and accolades from the past. The real purpose of these evaluations (job interviews or sales calls) is to give prospective customers a glimpse into the future so they can evaluate which alternative will provide the best fit in helping them achieve their goals.

In the final analysis, you must make the difference. To the extent you are able to communicate value and demonstrate that your skills are indeed aligned with the customer’s goals, you can expect a great deal of success going forward. On the other hand, if you sound just like everyone else, then you put your destiny in the hands of a coin flip at best. It’s that simple. Selling yourself during an interview or with regard to a product sale has everything to do with the customer’s perception of you.

Anyone Have a Degree in Sales?

February 16, 2009 by QBS Research, Inc.  
Filed under articles, job hunting tips

Sales continues to be the least taught profession in the world.

After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Finance, one of my options was to pursue a career in banking. I never really saw myself working in a bank, so I went into sales.capandgown

To get hired, I suppose it was necessary to have a decent personality, but you didn’t need any specific industry certifications. You just had to "want to" sell. By the time the first year passed, I had accumulated some on-the-job trial by fire experience, but the amount of official sales training I received was negligible. There was this unwritten feeling among managers that salespeople should already know how to sell.

I didn’t. I knew how to pick up the telephone and keep dialing until my fingers bled. I also knew that everyone was focused on results, and my manager told me that sales was simply a ‘numbers game.” For a neophyte like myself who was struggling to scratch out a living, selling was hardly a game.

[Read more]

Advice for Interview Candidates

February 3, 2009 by QBS Research, Inc.  
Filed under job hunting tips

Here’s a piece of advice I would offer anyone with regard to the notion of selling yourself. Make sure you have a viable plan for succeeding in whatever you aspire to do. Success rarely happens by accident, and if you were interviewing for a position within my company, the first thing I would want to know is, “Do you have a specific plan for being successful in this job?”

Successful people plan their work and they work their plans. Although our best laid plans don’t always pan out as we had originally envisioned them, having a vision is critical and shooting from the hip is no longer a viable option in today’s business environment.

Especially if you are competing for a sales position, I would want to know your philosophy on selling. More importantly, I would want to know that you had a specific sales philosophy. Which sales courses have you attended and what books have you read? Cite my books if you want. Of all the candidates who might be considered, make it your mission to be one who stands out, even to the point of creating a strategy binder and bringing a specific business plan to the interview. Present it like you were already in charge of the division. It’s perfectly acceptable to make assumptions that allow for flexibility during the implementation phases of your plan. In fact, be sure to let the hiring manager know that ongoing revisions are an integral part of your plan.

Potential employers are the same as prospective customers in the sense that they want to know that you are confident in your own abilities and you have the vision and fortitude necessary to make things happen in ways that will benefit them and you, both.

Even with a notable track record, we must recognize that in a competitive environment, you are rarely the only candidate (or vendor) being considered, as other qualified candidates will also garner serious consideration. Hence, the purpose of an employment interview is not just to review one’s laurels from the past. The real purpose of these evaluations (job interviews and sales calls) is to give prospective customers a glimpse into the future as a way to evaluate which alternative will provide the best fit in helping them achieve their goals. Customers are always forming impressions and how you choose to conduct yourself will ultimately be the single biggest factor that influences their decision.

In the final analysis, you must make the difference. To the extent you are able to communicate value and demonstrate that your skills are indeed aligned with the customer’s goals, you can expect a great deal of success going forward. On the other hand, if you sound just like everyone else, then you put your destiny in the hands of a coin flip at best. It’s that simple. Selling yourself during an interview or with regard to a product sale has everything to do with the customer’s perception of you.

Tales of a QBS Student

January 31, 2009 by QBS Research, Inc.  
Filed under job hunting tips

It’s always to nice to hear when former QBS students who put the QBS methodology into practice. . .

Tom,

Until last November I was a salesman in the Dallas office of a large deregulated energy provider. . I started my sales career January of 2006 (only 3 years ago) and have been through your material numerous times. In December I was selected, out of 60 people who applied for the position, to start a sales channel for Oracle Elevator.  Frankly, I was selected because of your training. In this economy, with the amount of people looking for work, that speaks volumes.

My current manager told me that many of the people he interviewed had 10+ years sales experience. My interview included role playing, I talked about diagnostic questioning, issues and implications, Gold Medals, German Shepherds, phone messages, e-mails. The next guy didn’t stand a chance.  With no experience at all in the elevator industry I closed 3 deals in my second week on the job.

If there is one important aspect…it’s that I’ve learned to separate myself from the noise. There’s a million people all running around trying to sell something and using Question Based Selling, I’ve been able to distinguish myself from the pack.

Thanks.

Adam B. Prescott, Business Development Manager
Oracle Elevator

Five Tips for Hiring Managers

January 15, 2009 by QBS Research, Inc.  
Filed under job hunting tips

If you are the person making the hiring decision, here are five ‘tells’ that will help you determine whether the candidate sitting in front of you would indeed be a good hire. Applicants should pay attention, because knowing what a hiring manager is looking for can provide useful insight with regard to how you choose to conduct yourself in your next job interview or in future sales situations.

  1. Was the candidate interested enough to ask questions, or did they simply response to what was being asked? If they were shy about asking, was it because they felt intimidated, overwhelmed, or just didn’t seem interested in the opportunity?
  2. How did the candidate demonstrate they were prepared and had put some thought into the specific opportunity?
  3. Was the candidate interested in your business and hiring objectives? To what extent did they raise and explore important issues and focus on helping you accomplish these goals?
  4. How much of the candidate’s pre-interview or follow up communication was person-to-person as opposed to hiding behind the electronic veil of email or the Internet?
  5. What did the candidate do to differentiate themselves from other candidates who were interested in the position?

Having a good-looking, professional resume is definitely a plus if you are seeking a new career opportunity. But, any good salesperson will tell you that just having a nice ‘product brochure’ is not enough to guarantee success when meeting with an actual client. The candidate must also have a certain confidence for how to conduct a meeting, and a vision for how they are going to be successful in the position.