Friday, August 20, 2010

Top Ten List: 10 Ways to NOT Get Hired

Today begins a series of blogs for all my Top Ten fans (sort of like Wayne's World).  Let's start out with the beginning of your sales career (or at least the beginning of most jobs) - the interview.  For whatever reason, you're looking for a new place to hang the old sales shingle.  After careful consideration (and hours staring at, you've hooked up with a company of interest, and it's time to go meet the Sales Manager.  Here's a guaranteed list of things that will likely cause a "NO-HIRE" stamp on your resume.  By the way, I use secret code on my resumes after I interview somebody that doesn't impress me.  If the initials "TBNT" are scribbled on the top right corner of your resume when I'm done - you're not getting hired.

10.   Wear anything other than your best, clean suit (with a tie, belt, black socks and a conservative tie).  I don't care what any book tells you.  I don't even care if the Sales Manager says it's "OK" to dress more casually.  Think about this:  If you were going on a multi-million dollar sales call, in which you could close the deal on that call, wouldn't you do everything you could to differentiate yourself from your competitors?  Dressing in a suit might be the "one thing" that makes a difference.  Dry clean your clothes.  Polish the scuffs on your shoes.  Wear a white or light blue shirt.  Suit color should be dark blue, brown, or grey.  Wear a tie your Mom would be proud of.  Conservative is always better.

9.  Don't bring anything to write with or on.  You would be shocked how many people I interview don't bring anything to write with or even a pad of paper.  I disqualify these people very early in the interview.  It screams, "I don't really care what you say."  So obvious, but yet, so forgotten.  (By the way, taking note on an iPhone or PDA doesn't count).

8.  Don't review the company's website and don't do any research on them.  This one always surprises me.  It's the same thing as going to visit a customer on your first appointment.  If you have to ask them what they do, you're screwed from the start.  Researching the company you're interviewing shows interest in them, initiative, and creativity.  Don't be stupid.

7.  Don't come prepared with any questions about the position.  A good Sales Manager will turn the interview over to you at some point.  Even better, you'll probably have a few chances during the meeting to take over the interview.  Don't get caught by being unprepared.  Come up with at least 12 questions.  Some of them should be difficult questions.  Some should be creative and unusual.  Asking different types of questions demonstrates preparedness and creativity.

6.  Don't bother finding out about exactly how the comp plan works.  Again, I am completely bowled-over when an Account Manager candidate fails to get a good grasp of the comp plan in the first interview.  I mean, after all, I'm considering this person to bring revenue to the company.  I'm hoping that they're interviewing me to understand how I'm going to bring revenue to THEM!  It's a sure sign of later failure if the candidate doesn't want to know as much as I'll give them on the comp plan.

5.  Don't prepare possible answers to difficult questions.  Just show-up.  Big Mistake here folks.  Your going to find a savvy Sales Manager who's going to give you a type of question called "Behavioral Interview Questions."  These are questions where the Sales Manager asks you to think back and describe situations which demonstrate specific behaviors or skills.  Google "Behavioral Interviewing" and prepare for the most common sales-oriented type questions.  You'll probably be asked to describe a difficult closing opportunity.  You might be asked to detail a situation in which you dealt with conflict.  A keen Behavioral Interviewer won't let you get away with simply describing how you might deal with these.  They're going to want you to tell them about a specific example. 

6.  Tune-out on a role play.  When I'm interviewing sales people, I almost always do a role play right in the middle of the interview.  It's going to be on cold-calling, handling an objection (usually price), describing their company/solution, etc.  If you're really good at this, you can even suggest a role play if the conversation and timing is right.  There's nothing more impressive than you totally killing a role play.

5.  Don't ask any questions about the Sales Manager.  There's lots of studies that show clear evidence that the number one factor that leads to job satisfaction is your immediate supervisor.  If it's that important, don't you want to know as much as you can about the guy or gal you're going to be glued to for many years to come?  Make sure you ask about their sales style, what they think the most important characteristics are for sales people, how they manage others, what they expect, how they deal with conflict, and more.  Make sure you Google the Sales Manager's name before you go.

4.  Think that you're better than them.  OK, I'm a bit reluctant to put this one on the list, but it deserves a spot.  All too often, good salespeople grow an ego that's too big to fit through the door.  If you think you're the best, demonstrate it by humility rather than arrogance.  Sales Managers usually have a big ego too, and there's no room in the interview for a battle of the egos.  Let him/her win.  Be honest, sincere, humble and professional.  Now's not the time to be cute or over-confident.

3.  The less creative, the better.  Have you read Jeffery Gitomer?  One of his big points is bringing creativity to the sale.  This interview is nothing more than a sales meeting.  Be creative.  Bring examples of your work.  Go the extra mile and create a biography or "suite" of excellence.  Talk creatively about your sales experience.  Tell a couple of well-placed sales stories.  When appropriate, have fun and be funny.  Sales Managers are looking for a differentiator.

2.  Talk negatively about your previous bosses and companies.  I hear this one all the time.  It usually starts with, "I don't want to speak negatively about ABC Company, but..."  As Pee-Wee Herman says, "Everybody's got a big butt."  Don't even touch this one.  If you have a gripe, keep it to yourself.  Speak positively about your previous employers.  It's OK to explain why you made a job transition, but you'll need to figure out a way to describe it in a positive way.  How about this:  "My success at ABC company was awesome, but I felt as if I could benefit from an organization with a better opportunity for me and my career goals."

AND...The Number One Reason you're going to tank the interview:

1.  Don't close the sale.  This is a sales meeting.  You have a sale to make.  Would you leave a customer meeting without moving to the next step in the sales process?  Wouldn't you ask who and what else they're evaluating?  Wouldn't you ask about a leader (if there is one), time frames, contingencies?  You better do this at the end of the interview because you're demonstrating exactly what you're going to do in a customer meeting.  I don't hire candidates who don't ask these important questions.  Make sure you do!

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