One of the biggest challenges facing working people is wage cuts. For many sales people, most of their annual income is based on commissions. I met with a client today whom I’ve known for more than 10 years. He has always exceeded sales quota. In his current role he is both a manager and a sales representative. To save money, his employer is changing compensation. The current rate for commissions is 4.5% of sales. As of July that rate will be cut to 3.2%. When he took the job six years ago, the commission was 6.5%. This is not the first time his commissions have been cut.
When my client confronted his boss about the situation, the boss told him that the company was increasing his account base and that he could make as much or even more if he worked harder. These words were a deep insult to my client. In his time with the company, he has always exceeded sales goals and often has been ranked #1 in his region. Now he’s being asked to do more just to keep pace. Instead, he’s doing the smart thing: Looking for a new employer who will treat him fairly.
A client called about his performance review. At first, I thought he was just getting a raw deal from his boss, but it's much worse than that. This client is in sales. His employer changed the compensation model about six months ago and moved from a base salary to a salary draw, which means that an employee has to repay salary if she does not meet a certain performance target. I've heard of draws in the past, but never with the employer threatening to use it in this manner (claiming the employee owes all of the pay he has received). I want to research this topic more in the coming weeks and update this post. For now, my advice is to proceed very carefully before working with any company using this system of compensation.
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.