finding a job in sales

Posted: April 21, 2014
By: Clay Cerny


Most of my clients in sales have two complaints. First, they have to try to meet unrealistic quotas or goals. Second, they work for managers who nit-pick about how sales representatives work with little concern about results. What can be done to avoid these problems? Ask good questions during an interview.

Almost every employer lets prospective employees ask questions at the end of an interview. That is a great time to gauge what it would be like to work at that company. It’s important to keep your questions positive or neutral in tone. Never say anything that makes it look like you would be difficult to work with or that you have a bad work ethic. Here are some questions to ask the hiring manager, the person who would be your boss in a sales position:

To gauge how quotas are used:

1. How is performance evaluated?

2. Describe the performance of your best sales representative.

3. What do you measure in evaluating performance?

It’s trickier to evaluate a person’s character. How do you know if a boss will be a micro-manager in how she treats you on a daily basis? Here are a few questions that might give you a clue about your prospective boss’s character:

1. How would we interact on a daily basis?

2. Describe a situation where I would be making a tough decisions and another where you would want me to get your approval before making a decision.

3. What two or three words best describe your managerial style?

These questions will help you assess what it would be like to work in sales for a company, but they do not guarantee a happy experience. Some interviewers, like job seekers, know how to answer questions in a way that makes everything sound positive. Some employers say one thing and do another. That said, there is no other way to evaluate a potential employer. If you don’t want a sales manager who only cares about numbers and controlling your daily activities, take the time to investigate your prospective employer’s managerial style. Do whatever you can to avoid working for a bad company or a tyrannical boss.

Posted: February 21, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

There are two ways to think about writing a sales resume: general and specific.  A general sales resume positions a job seeker to apply across industries.  At the same time, it doesn’t claim that the applicant can sell anything.  Some general resumes will emphasize inside or outside sales skills. Others will emphasize territory sales or account management.

A specific resume will focus on a type of product or technology.  For example, I recently worked with a client who sells IT systems to hospitals and large medical clinics.  In this type of resume, the job seeker chooses to limit her opportunities, but she does so for a strategic purpose.  By appealing to a specific type of industry or product, a job seeker is leveraging a special knowledge.  If there are enough employers in that area or if the job seeker has strong network connections, a specific sales resume can be a great tool in landing interviews and offers, often with higher earning potential.

Applicants seeking a position in sales need to think about how specific or general their resume should be.  They might also consider having two versions if they are going to seek jobs that fit a specific type of knowledge and general skills.  When it comes to sales resumes, there are few one size fits all solutions.  Think about what strategy fits you best.