Any one that has talked with one of our Employment Specialists has probably heard our mantra: “You are a product, and you are the salesperson for that product”.
What does that really mean?
If you’ve ever worked in sales, you’ll know you must know your product. You’ll also know that every customer can be closed – maybe not today, but someday your customer will be willing to let you close them; it’s up to you to do the work though.
How do you do that?
You need to know your product, so you know what you are selling. Is it blue, is it green, is it cold, is it hot, is it durable or disposable – what is “IT”? Your audience wants to know that you know everything about it. They trust you to sell them the entire package- image, instructions, concept, everything. Think of when you are approached to purchase something. How frustrating is it when you end up having to sell the product for the salesperson? Just on principle they may lose the sale, even if you really want the product. Especially in this economy where your business is at a premium, a salesperson needs to do the work, not vice versa.
So how does this translate to the job market? Hiring managers are still meeting people that cannot express what “their product” is. Candidates do not know how to explain their work experiences in a way that makes sense to the employer. Candidates still cannot discuss the technical points of their profession. Candidates still cannot answer the question: “Why should I hire you?” (“Well I’m applying for your Engineering position and I’m an Engineer, so what else needs to be said besides what time do you want me to start?”) Candidates still approach an interview as if the employer should know why they fit and therefore they don’t have to explain anything. As candidates, we forget what it is like to shop for services – a pair of shoes, a plumber, a house. We have choices with what to do with our money; as customers, employers have choices too. And just like we expect the person looking for our business to prove themselves worthy of our relationship, we should go into the interview experience ready to prove ourselves worthy too.
Ironically, this challenge doesn’t seem to go away with the internal candidate. Internal candidates who don’t practice the interview, or review their current job tasks or even sit with a coach to talk through their experiences, will often flub an interview. The internal candidate can be like two types of salespeople. First is the overly comfortable salesperson who doesn’t think they need to re-pitch their long-standing customer. That salesperson neglects his customer by not refreshing their knowledge of the product or even helping that customer know how they and the product should continue to grow together. That salesperson is guilty of taking his customer for granted. The other salesperson is the one that is shocked when their old contact is no longer in the picture and they must now re-cultivate their relationship with the company and pitch a new lead. They hoped their long relationship with the customer would count for an immediate sale, but the new lead has their own ideas and must be won over. An ill-prepared salesperson in this situation will not “bone up” on the product info, the customer info, or even new industry info. Internal candidates can lose new job opportunities if they are not prepared or if they assume they are a shoo-in for a job.
Know your product! It is a great product, but no one will know this if you can’t become proficient in selling it. There are opportunities out there with our names on it. We just have to put our product in front of them and let it shine.
Tanya Taylor Dingle, JD
Chief Strategy Officer
M³ & Co. Global