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The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 13, 2016 • Issue 16:06:01

Inspiration

Applying job interview know-how to sales

Have you ever likened a sales call to a job interview? The two have much in common. In both cases you're striving to make a stellar first impression; highlight the benefits of working with you; listen well and ask appropriate questions; demonstrate expertise in your field, as well as knowledge of your prospect's or potential employer's sphere; and close the deal.

Paul H. Green pointed out the importance of preparation for both sales calls and job interviews in Good Selling!TM: The Basics. "You wouldn't go into a job interview without preparation, right?" Green wrote. "Put the same preparation into your sales call. View the account as a position that you're applying for, and as such, it requires that you persuade the personnel representative (prospect) that your product is the best applicant in the hiring pool."

Four steps for thorough prep

Approaching a sales call as though it were a job interview can also give you a fresh framework when preparing for your next meeting with a prospect. To that end, Green offered a four-step process involving a series of questions, as follows:

  1. What's your objective? The obvious objective on a job interview is to get the job, but on our resumes we are more delicate, Green noted. We focus on how our objective will benefit our prospective employer. For example, resumes don't state the objective as "to get a job to pay my bills." Instead they say "to utilize and further enhance my selling skills." The sales call demands the same finesse. While your objective is to close the sale, that doesn't benefit your prospect. An objective focus on the prospect's needs, such as "to help you maximize your time, increase your sales, and reduce your risk" is more appropriate, Green added.
  2. Are you prepared? Any job applicant worth his or her salt researches the company before an interview, Green pointed out. Doing the same for a sales call shows the prospect that you're interested in his or her business. It also helps you determine the individual's business needs.
  3. Will there be any surprises? Before an interview, applicants can anticipate the standard interview questions and have thoughtful answers prepared. Do the same for your prospecting calls, Green advised. Some likely questions for which you should have answers at the ready include:
    • Why should I hire you? (Why should I purchase your product?)
    • What are your strengths? (What does your product do well?)
    • What are your weaknesses? (What don't people like about your service?)
  4. Did you get the job? Sometimes an applicant is offered the job on the spot; often the hiring decision takes more time. The smart applicant sends a follow-up thank you letter. Sales pros who do the same are telling their prospects that they are professionals who seriously want their business, Green said.

So before your next sales call, answer the questions provided here, and take all necessary action. And do more than you think you need to so you, your products and services will be heads above all other "applicants" in the pool. end of article

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