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personal branding roadmap template for job seekers

Personal Branding Roadmap Template For 2018 Sales Job Seekers

The importance of personal branding for career development is more vital now than ever for career salespeople thinking long-term. Your online reputation is now your resume and the key to future career growth.  

Having a personal brand gives you tremendous leverage when it comes to landing great career opportunities. For example, you might lack the job experience requirements for a role you really want, but having a strong personal brand may be able to compensate for that.

5-10 years ago, finding a new job worked heavily in the employers’ favor. Fast-forward 5-10 years later and digital transformation has shifted the advantage to the candidate. The MRI Network stated:

“86% of recruiters and 62% of employers felt the 2016 labor market was candidate-driven.”

Take a look at Tim Ferris or Gary Vaynerchuk as some key self-branding examples. Of course, they are at the extreme end of the spectrum, but they are the poster children for what you can achieve building a personal brand at scale.

tim ferris personal brand

Before diving into actionable personal branding techniques for job seekers (especially those in sales), it’s important to point out a hard reality. It isn’t going to be easy.

Building a personal brand is going to be a huge time commitment and will show little return in the short-term, but the long-term gains for the future of your career are limitless if you put in the blood, sweat, and tears in the beginning.

To get started you need to start asking yourself the questions below and write them down inside a google doc sheet or piece of paper.

Answer these questions to help you build out your personal branding roadmap in 2018:

  1. What is your “value” differentiator?
  1. Who is your target audience?
  1. What channels does your target audience live?
  1. What outcome are you trying to achieve short-term?
  1. What outcome are you trying to achieve long-term?
  1. What is your motive for building a personal brand?
  1. What keywords do you want to be found for?
  1. What is your content strategy?
  1. What KPIs are you going to commit to (daily/weekly)?

1 – What Is Your Value Differentiator?

The importance of personal branding for career development all starts with understanding your “value” differentiator.

This will sound like a daunting task in the beginning. The easiest way to understand this is by understanding your strengths and weaknesses.

What makes you standout amongst the noise as a candidate every employer would want to hire?

What makes you the expert in your field?

This is the key to getting started with your personal branding plan.

Determine Your Strengths/Weaknesses:

Take out a piece of paper and start writing down your strengths on one side of the page and weaknesses on the other. What wisdom do you have in your field that others don’t?  Where do you lack wisdom?

If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out to your co-workers and managers from your past and current jobs.

Really challenge yourself to understand your weaknesses because these will show you areas that need improvement.

You should consistently thrive to optimize your value differentiator.

strength vs weakness personal brand

2 – Who Is Your Target Audience?

To capture the right employer’s attention, it’s imperative that you understand your personal brand target persona. This is comparable to understanding personas in sales and marketing.

Make a list of all the influencers, employers, or decision makers you are trying to start conversation with or get attention from. This should help you build out your target audience.

Industry: Thinking long-term about your career what industry do you want to work in for the rest of your career? Narrow this down to your niche as much as possible.

Seniority Level: Do you speak to executives, mid-management, or practitioners?

Job Function: Do you speak to marketing, sales, IT, or accounting?

Industry Influencers: Who are the experts in your field?

3 – Which Channels Actually Matter To Your Target Audience?

This part should be easy. The importance of personal branding for career development starts with not only understanding who your audience is, but even more important, is where do they live?

For most B2B professionals, LinkedIn is the best place to build your personal brand

In most cases, your target audience will be engaged on multiple channels. Pick two channels (three at most), in the beginning, and really focus on those as you are getting started.

  1. LinkedIn
  1. Twitter
  1. Quora
  1. Reddit
  1. Facebook
  1. Pinterest
  1. Instagram
  1. Snapchat

4 – What Outcomes Are You Trying to Achieve Short-Term?

In the beginning, when building out your personal branding plan, it’s vital to understand what outcome you are trying to achieve.  

What are your short-term goals? These are outcomes you can achieve as little wins in a short-period of time. Most of these will be around audience growth and engagement metrics.

Some recommended short term goals to help you get started:

  1. Grow targeted following
  1. Create 1-1 conversations
  1. Content creation
  1. Content curation
  1. Profile views
  1. Connections

5 – What Outcomes Are You Trying to Achieve Long-Term?

Short-term wins over time will help you get to your long-term goals. Your goal here is to turn your short-term wins into habits that help you get to your long-term goals faster.

Long-term goals should incorporate building real expertise in your field that captures the attention from your employers based on association and wisdom.

Some recommended long term goals to help you get started:

  1. Inbound 1-1 conversations with target employers/recruiters
  1. Increase in number of qualified interviews
  1. More opportunity in higher positions
  1. More qualified connections with industry influencers
  1. Interviewed on top industry podcasts
  1. Guest posts on top industry blogs

Link to this podcast → https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKeolScvBdI

salesman podcast personal brand

6 – What’s Your Motivation For Building A Personal Brand In The First Place?

This one should be obvious, but it must be part of building out your plan, so you don’t lose track of why you are investing the time and energy.

For example, musicians build a personal brand so they can get booked for more shows and gain more fans.

For B2B professionals, you may be looking for thought leadership opportunities such as speaking at a conference.

This exercise might also help steer you AWAY from building a personal brand (and that’s okay).

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why am I building a personal brand?
  1. Who is going to benefit from my personal brand?
  1. Am I doing this to give more than I receive (or vice versa)?
  1. Will I be focused on building strong relationships?

If the answer to these questions seem to be more “me” focused than “we” focused, it might not be worth making the commitment.

7 – Which Keywords Do You Want To “Rank” For ?

Understanding keywords that you want to be found for will help drive the long-term success of your personal brand. Keywords play a major role when setting up and optimizing your social profiles (or website) to be found by employers in the short-term and long-term.  

Using the “skills” section inside your LinkedIn profile will help you determine which industry keywords employer’s and recruiters search the most. This should be a pretty simple process, but you can also search industry hashtags using hastagify.me to get more granular in your search.

featured skills linkedin personal brand

8 – What Is Your Content Strategy?

Want a little known secret to building your personal brand, FAST?

Content. Simple as that.

Content is the key driver when building a personal branding plan that captures attention at scale. The key here is to be super strategic with the content you curate, create, and share.

Aligning your “value” differentiator with your content is key to capture your target audience’s attention. Your keyword strategy will need to be integrated heavily into this strategy.

Focus on these two key areas:

Content Curation – Sharing other people’s content is vital (especially in the beginning) to driving more targeted connections, conversation, and attention. Who are the industry influencers in your space? Who are the key employers you are trying to get in touch with? Use their content to drive the conversation using a value vs ask approach.

Content Creation – Creating original content should be a priority. It’s the only way you will gain the reputation as the expert in your field. This should be a mix of video and blog content. Using LinkedIn publisher should be a key area of focus. This builds your credibility inside your profile and allows recruiters to understand your “value” differentiator. Eventually, building your own website will need to happen as well.

linked profile keywords personal brand

9 – Which KPIs Will You Commit To (daily/weekly/monthly)?

Consistency is the key to driving short-term and long-term success.

  • How many times a week are you going to curate content?  
  • How many times a week are you going to create content?
  • How many times are you going to post on dedicated channels daily?
  • How many times will you engage daily? Weekly? Monthly?

Build out a posting strategy that holds you accountable and turns your activity into a habit. Using social publishing tools like Sprout Social, Buffer, or Hootsuite will help you automate the process to become more efficient.

NOTE: In the beginning, stay away from automation as much as possible. Really focus on the 1-1 conversation to build relationships that matter.

Putting Your Personal Branding Roadmap into Motion

This all might sound like its going to be a lot of work (and it will be), but start focusing on taking baby steps in the process.

After you start seeing short-term wins it will help you pick up momentum.

Think about the next 10-20 years of your career.

Visualize the opportunities that will come your way if you put in the time now, so you can reap the career rewards later!

BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline

Sales Acronyms – BANT: What You Need To Know

The professional world of sales is filled with acronyms and terms that are used for the sake of brevity and efficiency. Each industry has their own unique set of acronyms that stand for different things. Sales is no different. Allow me to start with BANT.

What is BANT? 

BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. It was first developed at IBM some time ago and has since revolutionized the way that people sell, particularly in the software industry.

The reason it became so popular was that it was a simple framework by which anyone could quickly and fairly accurately qualify their sales opportunities. By ensuring that reps were able to pull the necessary information and identify 3 of the 4 items in this criterion, sales managers could be confident that the situation at hand was indeed a genuine opportunity with a strong likelihood of closing.

B – Budget

If a prospect was to inform you as a rep that they have already set aside a budget for the initiative at hand, it’s a strong indicator that the company is serious about making something happen. Whether that opportunity for business is brought to your company or not is an entirely different story but at the very least you know that target account has the necessary funds if all things align.

That said, you might start to think that the ideal sales situation is to always have a budget already identified. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Having a budget before engagement definitely means that there is serious consideration but there are external factors you also need to consider.

For example, having a budget set means the prospect has already put a price in their mind on how much they value your particular product or service. Furthermore, if they do already have a budget pre-determined it’s likely that it’s been set due to their engagement with another vendor. This is not at all a guarantee but it’s definitely a possibility.

A – Authority

Having authority in this process means that you as the rep have identified who the stakeholders, decision makers and financial signers are for this initiative within the account. The reason I separate these individuals is because oftentimes, and especially in a larger organization, these are different people.

For example, when a company is looking to bring on a new tool for their sales team, the stakeholders are the members of that sales team as they are going to be the ones using the tool day in and day out. If the tool that’s brought on board happens to be ineffective or have a horrible user experience, they are the ones that are going to have to suffer and as so understandably they have a huge stake in the evaluation.

Having a huge stake in the decision though does not make them the decision maker. There is always someone who needs to approve the decision; someone to give the final okay before everything is finalized and agreed upon. It’s possible that the decision maker ends up actually being a group of people but they are usually managers, directors or other executives in the organization.

A decision maker’s signature will definitely be necessary to complete the deal but more importantly, you’ll also need the signature of someone in charge of finances in order to finalize any paperwork. Depending on the organization the decision maker may also be the financial signer, that is they’ve been given authority over finances, but more often than not this is likely to be a different person who sits in the finance department.

N – Need

Now to move on to the need. Understanding the need of an organization is to understand their situation and challenges. In essence, this is the why behind the initiative. What is motivating them to pursue your product or services? Why are they choosing to engage with you now?

Are they just kicking the tires because it seems to be the new industry trend? Or is it perhaps in response to some incident that has recently occurred within their organization?

Whatever the motivating factor is, it’s very important for you as a sales rep to identify what it is. This can perhaps be considered to be one of the most important factors of this criterion as it will give you the most power in being a successfully persuasive sales professional. The stronger their motivation, the more power you have to sell without a discount or push for a quicker sale. Maybe even both.

T – Timeline

Having a timeline means that you have spoken with the prospect and they’ve mentioned there being a specific date by which they’d like to make a decision or finish implementation.

This is perhaps the second most powerful factor of this criterion as it’s another lever you can use to speed up your current sales cycle. If ever you feel as though the progress in the sales process is slowing down, you can kindly remind your prospect of their goal to have the solution or service implemented by a certain date.

From there you can work backwards to illustrate what groundwork needs to be laid out in order for you guys to meet their given timeline. The keyword here being their timeline. This is not a time frame that you as a rep are imposing on them but rather one that they’ve divulged to you for whatever reason.

Your power now comes in being a diligent consultant that’s working to help your prospects better achieve their goals.

Conclusion: BANT

Hopefully, this quick overview of the BANT qualification criteria has been useful in helping you understand how you can better qualify your opportunities. It’s highly likely that it’s something you are already using for your day-to-day work but perhaps this has given you some deeper insights as to why this method of qualification has become such an industry standard.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

Get high paying Account Executive sales jobs at Rainmakers!

how to get a tech sales job with no experience

How To Get A Tech Sales Job In 2018 (Even With No Experience)

So you want to get a job in tech sales? Good, because you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain how to go about getting a tech sales job, even if you lack experience. 

Step 1: Build A Tech Oriented Sales Resume

First things first. Just like any other job, you want to start with a solid resume. Think back to your past experiences and pull together a summary of the most relatable sales skills you can bring over into your new responsibilities as a sales representative in the tech industry.

Not sure what those relatable skills might be? No worries, we’re here to help you out.

For starters, if you have any sales experience at all from a previous job that’s absolutely a great place to start. Whether or not you’ve specifically sold technology, if you’ve gone about selling anything, much of the selling process remains the same.

You’ll still be uncovering as much information as you can about your prospective customer in order to learn what it is that they want or need and then tying the underlying reasons behind that desire back to your product or service.

What if you don’t have any previous sales experience?

Don’t worry, you can still find a way. At the end of the day, sales is simply the profession of persuasion. No matter what kind of work experience you have, you’ll almost certainly have had to do some kind of persuading.

Whether it was persuading your co-workers to jump on board with your new idea or even to go eat together at a particular restaurant, what you’ve been doing is persuading people. That said if you really can’t think of any situations where you’ve done some kind of persuading, well… perhaps you may want to reconsider a profession in sales.

Let’s move on. So now you’ve got your resume all built up and polished. What next? Getting interviews. 

Step 2: Begin Your Job Search Process

There are many ways you can go about this. You can go directly to a company’s website to look for open positions if you have a specific one in mind, but more often than not you’re going to need some help with even identifying what companies you’d like to work for.

This is where platforms and recruiters can come in handy. If you do some searching online there are plenty of them, even ones dedicated specifically to tech sales, that you can leverage. Of course, we can help you too. 

Step 3: Make Sure You Prepare For Your Interview FAR Ahead Of Time

There are a few things you’re going to want to do before you step foot into the room with your potential employer.  

  • Research about the company itself.
  • Learn when they were founded.
  • Learn their products and and unique value proposition.
  • Discover what differentiate them from the other players in the market.
  • Find any other details that seem important to be informed about.
  • Recent news about and announcements from the company are always a plus.

Step 4: Learn Your Target Company’s Sales Process (And Picture Yourself In It)

Above all, you’ll want to really familiarize yourself with their sales process. After all, you are applying for a position in sales.

Prospecting

You need to understand the following things intimately:

  • Who are your potential customers are and how will you find them?
  • What tools or services will you be using?
  • If you’re not sure, this can actually be a great question for you to ask during your interview.
  • What are the tools and services the company is using today?
  • Why did they choose to bring on those specific tools?

Engaging

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How are you going to reach out and get connected with your prospects?
  • What’s the reasoning behind your strategy?
  • Based on the company’s target industry, market and customer profiles – what methods do you think will be most effective? And why?

Discovery

Here’s what you should do:

  • Schedule a time to have a conversation with your prospect to learn more about them.
  • What is their current situation?
  • What problems are they dealing with?
  • Based on what you uncover, think of the ways you can best articulate the ways in which your company’s products or services can alleviate those pains.

Closing

In technology sales, the step that usually comes after the discovery is the demo.

This is where you as the sales rep have the floor and opportunity to clearly illustrate to your prospect how their lives will be improved through the use of your product or service.

You do this by relating the benefits your company provides to the problems they voiced to you during the discovery part phase.

There may be a bit of back and forth after that in terms of negotiation and the need to deal with a procurement team but soon after the demo the final step you’ll want to end with is closing the deal.

This is when your prospect and the involved stakeholders have made the decision to move forward in doing business with your company and are willing to put pen to paper, or so to say.

Step 5: Revisit and Master Stages of the Sales Funnel

A great way to think of this process from a high level is to think of it much like a funnel.

In fact, the concept of a sales funnel is very prevalent in the world of technology sales and is something you’ll likely want to familiarize yourself with as well.

You can easily do a search for this term online and get a quick understanding of what it is and how it would work for a business. As a quick summary though, it’s the idea of taking a large number of leads, which you then refine into prospects based on some target criteria, and ultimately convert into customers by putting them through the sales process.

Awesome. So you’ve done your research and taken the time to understand what the sales process is and how it works. All that’s left for you to do now is nail the interview.

Step 6: Nail The Interview

There’s a ton of advice out there around the best ways to approach an interview but here are a few pointers to help you get started.

Be on time. In fact, show up a bit early so you have some time to spare. Trust me, having that little extra time before the interview to level-set and get your head straight can only bode well for you.

Next, keep in mind that most hiring managers are likely looking for 3 primary qualities.

Those are competency, character and the ability to learn.

Competency is simply a measure of whether or not you can do the job at hand. If given the opportunity, would you be someone the company can rely on to get things done effectively?

Character is important because let’s face it, whether you like it or not, co-workers are people we end up spending a lot of time with. As such your potential boss is probably looking to see if you’re someone he/she can stand having around and, more importantly, if you’re someone he/she can trust.

The last quality you want to make sure to convey to the person at the other side of the table is the ability to learn.

As a bonus, you may want to think about emotional intelligence too. This will help you to become more empathetic as a sales professional, something that employers definitely care about.

Sure, it’s great and all if you’re a good person who’s capable of doing the job at hand but, that’s not all that’s important in the work place. Change is imminent in all aspects of life and business is no different. Your boss is going to want to know that, should it become necessary, you’ll be someone who’s open to new ideas and willing to adapt to the changing circumstances rather than someone who is always stuck in their old ways.

Again there’s a ton more information out there on additional things you can do to do well on an interview but keep these things in mind and you should land your dream job in tech sales in no time. Now go out there and make it rain!

emotional intelligence sales job 2018

The ONE Unwritten Trait You Must Possess To Get a Sales Job in 2018

Imagine walking into your office on Monday morning only to discover that after months of courting your top prospect has terminated their relationship with you. Would you throw a fit and blame your sales team? Or would you take a moment to compose yourself and then start figuring out what went wrong? While we’d all like to believe we would choose the third reaction, emotions can be a difficult beast to tame. And although equating intelligence with emotion may seem like an oxymoron, emotional intelligence now accounts for 80% of the qualities responsible for success in the workplace.

And if you happen to be in the market for a new sales gig, emotional intelligence is one the most underrated qualities you can possess as a sales candidate.

The challenge? You can’t easily claim that you’re an emotionally intelligent person during an interview because it’s not a numerically measurable KPI.

Emotional intelligence on a resume is like a deflected pass in basketball. You know it makes a difference, but it’s hard to prove the ROI. 

So, What Exactly is Emotional Intelligence?

In a nutshell, emotional intelligence involves a person’s ability to recognize and regulate their own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

A study of Fortune 500 companies found that salespeople with high emotional intelligence “outperformed those with medium to low EI by 50%“. With numbers like these, it’s no wonder an increasing number of sales professionals are investing in the development of their emotional intelligence to obtain the following qualities.

Self Awareness:

Those with high emotional intelligence are self-aware, which means they know their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to customer relations. This is important as it allows you to understand how you come across to potential clients and promotes a relationship based on understanding.

Self-Control:

Self-control is also a trait of the emotionally intelligent and is especially important in sales. Dealing with clients is unpredictable, to say the least, which means the ability to control your emotions could be the difference between a closed deal and a lost one.

Empathy:

Empathy is the ability to understand what others think or feel. In other words, it’s the ability to put yourself in your prospective clients’ shoes in order to understand them better.

Much like self-control, empathy can save a strained professional relationship. Rather than pushing your own agenda, empathy allows you to understand where your client is coming from and enables you to provide them with what they need in that moment.

Fortunately, while some individuals naturally exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence, it is also a skill set that can be improved upon with the following practices.

Key Takeaways For Improving Your Emotional IQ

1) Scheduled Self-Reflection:

Salespeople are notoriously busy. Between answering and sending out emails, managing client relationships, and putting out proverbial fires it can be difficult to carve out some downtime.

Although it may seem counterproductive to put your day on hold for self-reflection, it could be the secret weapon you need to increase your sales. It takes time to examine our behavior and set intentions for change, without it our desire to improve is a moot point.

Whether it’s riding the subway or waiting for your spin class to start, find the time to ask yourself some introspective questions such as:

What did I do well today, and how can I continue that behavior?

What caused me to react poorly today?

What can I do differently next time?

2) Practice Empathy:

Take a moment prior to your interactions to view things from the other side of the table. Sure, your prospects may have a need for what you’re selling, but they likely don’t have the time to understand everything that you offer. This means they need you to be their valued shortcut that helps them to make an informed decision without wasting precious time.

3) Practice Responding, Not Reacting:

Remember the scenario above about losing a top prospect? The first two scenarios are examples of reacting to an emotional trigger, while the last scenario is an example of responding.

In contrast to an unconscious emotional reaction, responding involves making a conscious choice about how you will act. So, the next time someone cuts in front of you in the Starbucks line or uses the last of the coffee creamer at work – practice your cool, calm, and collected response.

Nobody said being a salesperson was easy, but there are times when it’s undeniably worth it. While the challenges you face every day may never change, your reactions can — all it takes is a little practice.

common sales interview questions and best answers

Deconstructing The 4 Most Common Sales Interview Questions

In this article, we’ll fully breakdown the 4 most common sales interview questions, and give you the best possible answers!

Conduct Your Job Interview Like You Would The Sales Process

Whether you love it or hate it, interviews are a very important part of the hiring process. That’s why it’s so crucial that you are well prepared to properly handle any interview questions that come your way when you’re trying to get a job in tech sales.

Failure to do so will not bode well as your potential employer might worry about how you will handle objections while on the job. The way you handle the questions thrown at you during the interview could make or break your chances of getting an offer, so make sure to answer them with confidence.

Keep in mind that in a sense, the interview is very much like a sale, wherein you are the product and the company is the buyer.

Leverage this dynamic to your advantage and use the interview as a platform to showcase the various strategies and tactics you would use on the job. What better way to prove you’re the best candidate than to have the interviewer see you in action?

Below is a short list of 4 very common questions asked during many tech sales interviews. Let’s take a moment to dig deeper into each one and identify the best ways to approach them.

1. Why do you want to be in sales? 

This question is an absolute classic and one that is almost guaranteed to come up during your interview. In asking this question, the interviewer is trying to understand what your motivation is. What about sales excites you and makes you want to get out of bed every morning?

There is no one right answer to this question, but there is one thing you always need to do with your answer. Be clear and convincing.

Don’t stop with simple and vague statements like:

“I live and breathe sales” or “I’m just a natural-born salesperson”.

Provide examples that back up your claims. What have you done that demonstrates your excellent sales abilities?

Why have these events influenced your decision to pursue a career in sales? What about your character and skills make you a good fit for a career in sales as opposed to another field?

In order to ace this question, you need to leave the interviewer feeling that there will be no need to worry about your motivation should you get hired.

They need to have that sense of confidence that even if they’re not always around to see you, you’ll have the ability and the self-motivation to stay focused and continuing to perform.

2. What do you know about our company?

This question can be phrased in many different ways but ultimately the interviewer is trying to see how well prepared you are. Use this question as a springboard to demonstrate your research prowess since it’s an extremely valuable skill for any tech sales professional to have.

If the company is public you can read through their annual report or 10-K to find some golden nuggets of information like what their goals are for the year or what they foresee as being some of their biggest challenges.

If instead you’re interviewing for a private company or even a startup, there are still a wide range of resources at your disposal. Crunchbase is a great website to find information on companies, especially early tech startups. Owler is another great resource you can use to find recent news about any company.

And of course, checking the company website and doing a quick Google search for the company name is a great way to get a high-level understanding of their business. At the very least you want to have a good understanding of who their customers are and how they differ from the other competitors in the space.

Try your best to piece things you find in your research together in a way that shows off your analytical skills and ability to see the bigger picture. If you can prove you have a good understanding of the environment in which the company operates and what their current situation means from a business perspective, there will be no doubt in the interviewer’s mind that you can do the same for your prospects and have meaningful business conversations.

3. When was the last time you took a big risk that didn’t pan out?

Another one that would very similar to this would be the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question. Both of these questions require you to have a strong enough understanding of yourself to recognize what your limitations are. All of us are human and none of us are perfect but to recognize where your imperfections lie requires one to have a strong sense of self-awareness.

Being able to point out where you could improve also demonstrates your ability to be coached which is something many hiring managers like to see in their candidates. Someone who is completely stuck in their ways and unwilling to re-evaluate their approach can be extremely difficult to work with and therefore if you give the impression that you’re one of these types of candidates, the hiring manager may pass on you to save themselves from future frustrations down the line.

To prove that you are indeed someone that is coachable, think back to an experience that didn’t go as you had wanted and explain the lessons that you learned from that experience. Bonus points if you can even talk about how you continue to use those lessons to this day. By doing this you’re illustrating that you are someone who inherently focuses on self-improvement and embraces change for the better.

How this particular question differs from the ‘greatest weakness’ question is that it goes one step further by also gauging your risk tolerance and ability to take calculated risks. When listening to your experience the interviewer is trying to understand how you approach a risky situation, what you take into consideration and how you ultimately factor everything into your final decision.

Just like with question 1 on this list, there is no one right answer or approach to this question, and possibly even more so on this one because it depends greatly on the company’s and interviewer’s tolerance for risk. Whether they are risk loving or risk averse, you want to provide an example that falls as closely in line with their preferences.

Your research can sometimes provide you with a good sense of the company’s risk tolerance. Additionally, if you’re good at reading people, you can often tell by the interviewer’s body language how aggressive of a personality they have. The more aggressive they seem, the more likely they’ll have a higher tolerance for risk. If all else fails and you really just can’t get a sense of where they stand, err more on the side of higher risk. After all, you are trying to work in sales. Sales managers would rather hire someone who can take action on a well thought out scenario than the other way around, especially if the candidate has already proven that he or she is very coachable.

4. Do you have any questions for me?

Though seemingly innocuous, this question can actually be pretty loaded. The way a candidate answers this question can say a lot about their character.

A lot of the time there may be legitimate questions you have about the job that are left unanswered and this is absolutely the right time to ask those questions. However as a fair warning, it would be highly advisable to not make every question about the company’s benefits or what you stand to gain from the position. Though they may be important, try to sprinkle in some additional questions around anything that was unclear around how you’d actually do your job. In fact, you can probably get a lot of simple answers to your benefits questions by doing a little bit of research on the company’s Glassdoor profile.

That way you can ask other questions that are more relevant to the actual job at hand during the interview. What tools will you be using? What are common struggles they see with new hires coming on board? What have others before you done to succeed? Try to think more along these lines as this will convey to your interviewer that you are serious and excited about the work to be done.

This is almost always the last question asked during the interview so don’t squander the opportunity to make a great final impression. Utilize the peak-end rule to your advantage and go out with a bang to to ensure you have the highest chance of getting that job offer.

Lastly, also remember that just as much as the company is trying to evaluate your fit into their business and available role, you should also be evaluating the fit of the position to your personal preferences. Everyone is different and so if there are certain things about a job that are extremely important for you, make sure to touch on those as well. The last thing you’d want to do is hastily join an organization just for the sake of getting a new job only to find out soon after that you made the wrong decision and, even worse, may have to go through the whole job search process again because you joined the wrong company.

PS – Check out this guide for a more robust list of sales interview questions and answers.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

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a player in sales top performer

“A-Players” In Sales: 4 Secret Characteristics Of Top Performers

When it comes to running a sales organization, every manager knows that there are different kinds of players you can have on your team, and they usually come in 3 categories: you have the A-Players, the B-Players and the C-Players. For the most part, people seem to agree on what defines a C-player and a B-player. In this article, we’ll uncover what makes an A-Player in sales, and why they tend to get the best opportunities in sales.

C-Players

The C-players are the people that are usually a little lower in the ranks because, as we’d expect, they do the bare minimum to get by. They’re the ones who seem to get their work done just barely one time. They also tend to make excuses, and need more attention / coaching during 1 on 1’s and quarterly reviews than others to get their performance to up to a satisfactory level. As a manager, these are the players you want to avoid because they’ll be the ones that can turn into time sinks and even negatively impact your team’s culture and productivity. As an individual contributor, this is the category you obviously want to avoid falling into as it will destroy your chances at upward mobility and even more so if things happen to take a turn for the worst, you’ll likely be among the first on the chopping block.

B-Players

B-Players are consistent and reliable performers. When something needs to get done you can rely on them to get the job done correctly and in a timely fashion. They have a solid understanding of what is expected of them and do what it takes to deliver on that expectation. B-players are those who need little to no coaching but are still able to keep their productivity at the level it needs to be at. However, when something comes up that requires them to go above and beyond their job description or put in more hours than is necessary, there may be a little of push-back. Regardless, these are still people you want to keep on your team as they are very important for keeping a well run and organized business.

A-Players

It’s well accepted that these are the individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty. These are the “5 star recruits” that you want to attract and hold onto as long as you possibly can because they are the ones that can truly help move your business forward. The qualities of an A-player however are more widely debated because different characteristics are more important depending on the manager and industry that individual is working. That said, here’s a short list of qualities that would apply universally to an A player regardless of someone’s industry.

1. They reach for stretch goals and hold themselves to a higher standard.

Stretch goals are those objectives that are just beyond our reach and so many of us choose not to set them. Instead, we may opt for something more achievable so we can feel good about ourselves when we do meet our goals. A-players, however, do not share this same restraint. Instead, they put aside all fears and purposefully push themselves beyond their limits understanding that it’s only when they are forced out of their comfort zone that they are able to grow the most.

Another reason A players are so valuable is because of the higher standard that they hold for themselves. Unlike a B-player who may be influenced by the lack of motivation they see in a C-player colleague and ultimately have their productivity drop, the A player will just keep on chugging at their normal pace. They are completely undeterred by others and are motivated entirely by their own desire to succeed. Best of all, they have the complete opposite effect on the team’s culture and productivity that a C-player has. Where a C-player may negatively impact a B-player’s productiveness, an A-player can bring up the motivational energy in both the B-players and C-players.

2. They understand the importance of teamwork and communication.

It’s probably not uncommon for an A-player to prefer getting work done on their own as they usually see themselves as the most capable people for the job, but at the same time they’ll recognize when something is beyond their bandwidth and will effectively employ the help of their colleagues to get the job done. For example, in an organization that has a role for a Solutions Consultant (SC) or Solutions Engineer (SE), an A-player Sales Rep will recognize that they don’t need to invest all their time and effort to preparing for an upcoming demo. Instead, they’ll make more effective use of their time by focusing their efforts on managing the relationship with their prospect and effectively communicating the wants, needs and pains to their SC/SE so that they can be topics of focus during the presentation.

They’re also the ones that often take that extra effort to make sure everyone is on the same page.

When dealing with prospects, they ask questions like

“Am I understanding that correctly?” or “So you’re telling me x, y and z. Did I hear that right?”.

They understand that sometimes you need to slow things down to speed things up and so they put in the extra effort to make sure that they are as clear as possible in their communication as to avoid any confusion and issues down the line.

Jon Miller, Co-founder to both Marketo and Engagio, once said,

“The most successful reps are often the most paranoid. They are always on the lookout for what could go wrong and take proactive measures to prevent them.”

A-players are also the ones who understand that recognition for good work does not have to be a zero-sum game. When the team works towards a successful endeavor, they readily give credit where credit is due understanding that this builds trust and more effective collaboration amongst the team in the future. They truly embody what the definition of a “team player” is.

3. They are in tune with the company’s vision and take initiative.

A-players don’t need to be told what to do. At any given point they understand what the company’s goals and objectives are and take action towards these goals on their own accord. They don’t worry about the minimum metrics required of them by the company and instead keep their focus on results and the bigger picture. They understand that reaching their hundred dials or two hundred emails will ultimately amount to almost nothing if they’re not being sent to the right people with the right message and towards the right objectives.

Additionally, these are the people who aren’t afraid to act on their own and don’t feel the need to always ask for permission. The reason these individuals have the confidence to do so is because they have the capability to put themselves in management’s shoes and understand what the best courses of action are moving forward. This is particularly what makes them attractive to their managers in the future as candidates for promotions, and usually the reason why they’re even considered in the first place.

4. They’re able to put the good of the company before their own.

This doesn’t mean that A-players are people you can easily take advantage of. In fact, that’s a sure-fire way to ensure you lose these A-players. Since A-players are so capable, they’re usually very smart people with a strong level of intuition. Therefore, once they get a sense that they’re being treated or paid unfairly they’ll be quick to find another opportunity that better suits their standards. A-players may choose to focus on their careers over their personal lives but they won’t stand to have it imposed on them.

Rather, what this means is that A players are those who are able to take a look at a situation and play through in their heads what the repercussions of their decisions will be. For example, they may understand they could make a false promise to a potential customer to quickly make the sale and a quick buck. However, they’re able to foresee that in doing so they are setting the company and customer success team up for failure and therefore opt for the high road of doing right by the customer, even if it means offering a discount or foregoing the deal altogether if there truly isn’t a good fit.

They’re also the ones that aren’t afraid to lend a helping hand to those in need. If a teammate is struggling to fill their pipeline and actively voices a request for help, these are the guys that are willing to take a moment to provide some advice for how to get their colleagues back on the right track. I’ve seen many A-players take the time to help their colleagues practice their pitches and demos, even offering to join them on their next calls as a means of support, often times without expecting anything in return.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

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network

Networking for Salespeople – Part II

This blog post is actually a continuation of a previous blog post on how you can improve your networking abilities. If you haven’t already read the first part of this series, check it out here.

Now for those who are caught up or just want to get into the nitty gritty of ways you can use body language and tonality to further improve your networking game, read on!

 

 

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

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ai future of sales

What AI Means For The Future of Sales

It’s no secret that we’re currently on the brink of an unprecedented AI revolution. Over the past few decades, technology has quickly taken over the way we live. Many of us today use our computers to make a living and it’s now simply the cultural norm to rely on technology as your primary source of entertainment among many other things.  

With the vast efficiencies and capabilities that technology brings, it’s easy to understand why technology has become so omnipresent in our lives. What would have taken our ancestors weeks to write on a manuscript can now be drafted in a matter of days on any word processor. In the past the speed at which this process could be completed was limited by the speed at which you could type but now we can draft as quickly as we speak thanks to modern voice to text technology, granted edits will be necessary. However, in the near future there will come a time when our computers can not only transcribe our words but also revise it to a final draft for us. In fact, it will actually be capable of accomplishing a great deal more than that.

The driving force that will deliver us these amazing new capabilities is called natural language understanding which is a subtopic in the broader field of artificial intelligence. We’re not there yet but it’s only a matter of time before a computer is built that will have the ability to code changes into itself. Soon thereafter we’ll be dealing with what is called artificial-superintelligence which is AI that achieves a level of intelligence greater than all of humankind. It would be too lengthy to discuss this idea in its entirety as well as its ramifications for society but if you’re curious to learn more about it, this is actually a really good article that does an amazing job of providing a comprehensive overview of the current state of AI and where its headed.

Instead this article will focus on the impact that AI will have on the professional world of sales. Like many other sectors, salespeople will see their jobs being impacted in some way or another by artificial intelligence with many of them possibly even losing their jobs to it. NPR put out an interesting interactive that provides predictions of how likely your job is to be taken over by a machine if you’re curious to check that out. AI will indeed have an impact on blue-collar jobs but interestingly enough data shows that in fact there are many more use cases that threaten the security of white-collar jobs than blue-collar ones. We’ll touch more on what this means for the modern sales professional a little later in this article.

For the most part though we can expect that in most instances AI will augment rather than replace the work that we perform. We’re seeing the the start of this already with a myriad of AI business solutions like Einstein from Salesforce. Einstein currently offers things like predictive lead scoring,  lead insights, as well as predictions and alerts for high priority opportunities with a strong likelihood to close. That’s not to say though that Salesforce is the only player or the best vendor in the space.

There are a tremendous number of other businesses as well that are trying to leverage the benefits that AI offers for commercial success. These include companies like x.ai, Spiro, Clearbit Connect, LeadCrunch and Crystal, each of which provide some very interesting value propositions. X.ai is a virtual assistant who schedules meetings on your behalf by proposing free times and automatically sending calendar invites for agreed appointments. Spiro is another type of virtual assistant but one that’s focused on helping sales professionals stay focused on top prospects by sending reminders and notifications based on previous activity within a deal cycle. Clearbit Connect is a gmail plugin that’s leveraging AI to streamline the arduous process of prospecting by taking care of the search for emails and LinkedIn profiles for you. LeadCrunch is another notable business assisting in the prospecting realm and one that helps identify new potential customers based on your existing customer profiles. The final business on our list, Crystal is a service that’s looking to coach sales professionals on how best to reach out to their prospects by considering their personality and communication styles.

Understandably to some of you these products may seem gimmicky and to others it may simply be more money than you’re willing to pay for the benefits. However the underlying message here is not that these are all businesses or services we need to be taking advantage of right now. Rather, what should excite us is the fact that we’re seeing seedlings of what will soon be a technological revolution that will bring tremendous convenience to the everyday sales professional that has never been available before.

For the average salesperson this would mean they no longer have to deal with manual data entry and will instead have a future CRM that can automatically track and log all of their activities for them. Companies like Sudo are making the early inroads towards making this ethereal vision a reality through a virtual assistant chatbot. Though a chatbot isn’t the minimal user interface CRM that you may be imagining it’s again important to recognize that these are the initial steps towards a more convenient future.

Thanks to Moore’s law what is a chatbot today can quickly evolve into an intelligent personal assistant that’s possibly even more advanced than the ones we carry around in our smartphones today. Additionally, this same CRM could possibly even prospect and conduct outreach on our behalf while leveraging the benefits of increased insights better than any human ever could.

And as time continues, mergers and acquisitions as well as more efficient development cycles will lead to the merging of the many capabilities we’ve discussed so far which should be even more exciting news to the modern sales executive.

A future with artificial intelligence will likely mean a future where professional data is so abundant, connected and available that records can be updated in real time eliminating the whole notion of “dirty data” or outdated information.  Reports and summaries could be built in a matter of minutes upon verbal request to a computer and the costly process of finding and building target lists can be as easy as asking, “Computer, what is my addressable market?”.

What this means for the modern sales professional is that you’re life is going to get a lot easier over the next few decades but only if you have a sales job that isn’t likely to be automated by a machine. This technological revolution won’t take place tomorrow or next week but it’s important to understand that it is indeed a serious and imminent trend and one that needs to be taken into consideration when planning for your career. The best way to understand whether or not your job has a high likelihood of being automated is to look at your job description. The more your work is repetitive in nature and requires little to no cognitive judgement to complete the more likely your job is to be replaced by a machine because the financial and productivity incentives for businesses will be too strong to ignore. These would likely be roles in an administrative, business development or otherwise entry level function in a sales organization.

The next most likely group to feel pressure on their job security are those that are charged with maintaining a sales process or system. Reason being, at the moment these duties do require some level of human oversight but there will be a time when AI evolves from artificial narrow intelligence to artificial general intelligence and because a machine has no need for food, sleep, insurance or a raise, it’s inevitable for businesses to start replacing some of their workforce with these machines. This would probably apply to many folks working in a sales operation capacity.

The jobs least likely to be impacted and taken over the pending AI revolution are those that inherently requires some human element of thought or trust. Because humans are social creatures, no matter how efficient machines can become and how closely they can resemble our intelligence, there is a level of human trust that can’t be built up with a machine. As such there will always be some need for “human” reassurance in business. These roles will likely revolve around things like sales strategy, contract negotiations, training or coaching and the like.

If you want to learn more on how to slowly develop a career path towards these kinds of roles, check out the Rainmaker platform for sales professionals. There you can check out new opportunities are there for your in the next step of your sales career and also see how you stack up against your peers. It’s a great resource to get a better understanding of your professional competency and to make sure you’re not leaving any untapped opportunities on the table.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

Get approached by tech companies offering tech sales jobs.