My job is selling technology. Actually I'm more of a translator. I sell technology to other businesses and that's where things get weird. There is a bewildering array of tech out there and unfortunately many companies think technology sells itself and the value that the technology delivers should be obvious. Wrong. That's where I come in. I said I was a translator. My job is to translate techno babble into value that customers understand. This blog share my adventures with high tech sales. Selling high tech is fun so come join me on my sales journey!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Sales - getting the job

If you've followed me and read my book "Romancing The Sale" you'll be familiar with the idea that sales is a lot like dating and winning the heart of the prospect.   I'm always looking out for parallels that I can learn from.

This week it occurred to me that "getting a job" is a similar process.  You'll probably be thinking that getting a job is obviously "sales" and that I'm stating the obvious.  Getting a job is clearly where you are selling yourself, but there are some interesting observations to be learnt from this familiar sales activity and equally applying sales best practice back to getting a job.

Firstly in a job interview, there is a natural tendency to switch into "sales mode".  That means telling.  Sure the interviewer wants to learn about you and so your natural tendency is to  switch to a monologue. My sales rule is never speak for more than 30 seconds and to turn statements into questions where-ever possible.  These sales techniques should apply to job interviews. By asking questions in the interview process you can discover information: what their hot buttons are allowing you to optimise the information you supply.  It means your sales pitch is targeted.

I would guess many sales people switch into "interview mode" when they are selling. There is a "I want this deal/job" which means behaviours change to applicant rather than a meeting of equals and whether there is a mutual benefit.

The key thing that struck me about the job interview process is that the interviewer wants to discover what you have done in the past in order to see whether your prior experience can be applied to their situation in order to deliver value to the organisation.  In sales, never assume anything.  A common mistake is to assume that people can take a feature or function and extrapolate the benefit or value. I believe this happens less in an interview setting. People tend to say in an interview "I've done this which is similar to your situation". This happens in selling however having observed sales professional I am not sure it is something that is done consciously.  More emphasis needs to be put into understanding their situation, describing past experiences and situations and describing how that prior experience can be applied to solve their problem.

The interviewer is constantly considering the question "Can this person do the job".  The same is true of a purchaser.

Interestingly my recruitment approach is "Hire Attitude develop Aptitude" - I wonder how many companies secure sales for the same reason...

You may have come across the STAR technique for interviewing.  It stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.

The approach is to describe a Situation or Task (a previous sale), describe what needed to be done (customer requirements) and the Action which was taken to deliver the result.  This interview technique can be applied to sales too!