How to Sell Yourself in the Job Search: The Presentation
Like the approach, the presentation occurs during the "real-time" stage of applying the personal selling process in your job search. In fact, the presentation is part of the approach – more specifically, the job interview.
"The critical importance of the presentation lies in the fact it's your opportunity to demonstrate to the prospect how your solution can solve the identified, or perceived, problem or goal," said Greg Accardo, director of the Professional Sales Institute and marketing instructor with Louisiana State University's E.J. Ourso College of Business.
Accardo added that it behooves the salesperson or job candidate to make the most of this window of opportunity. "If someone grants you their limited and valuable time to make a presentation, be prepared and execute," he said.
Follow A Three-Point Plan
Jason Lavis, managing director, UK-based Out of the Box Innovations Ltd., pointed out that you should do three basic things in a sales presentation:
- Outline the problem
- Demonstrate that you understand the problem better than your customer
- Explain how your product or service can help overcome the problem
"Added to this will be any evidence, numbers, charts, testimonials and so on," Lavis continued. "It also makes sense to stick to these practical points, for the sake of clarity, time and the concentration span of your customer."
Lavis, whose specialty areas include marketing and recruitment in the energy industry, offered an example of how one can tailor the three steps above to an oil and gas job interview.
Here are links to additional articles in Rigzone's series on personal selling for the job search:
"In an oil and gas job-hunting context, you can explain the common challenges that are faced when carrying out the role, ones that often go unnoticed or tend to be improperly addressed," he said. "You can highlight times when you've been instrumental in identifying and solving these issues that others might not have. This way, you can cover some of the interviewers' questions and objections in advance, and create a level of confidence in your skills."
Lavis added that taking such a problem-solving bent into your interview rather than a more traditional focus can help you to stand out among other candidates.
"This is more effective than telling stories about your life, or job postings," Lavis explained. "Most of your competition will be able to talk generally about their work history. How many can relay situations where they were a linchpin or cornerstone of an operation?"
Show That You Understand The 'Buyer'
During the presentation, show that you know the company's goals, aspirations and culture, said Accardo. He added that prospective employers typically provide such information very conspicuously.
"They're looking for candidates who can assist their team in achieving outcomes," Accardo said. "I tell my students to study the company mission statement before the big interview, or presentation. The mission statement can tell you a lot about the company vision, goals and culture."
Aside from showing the interviewer that you understand the company's mission, let your presentation demonstrate that you've studied the job description, said John Holland, co-founder of the trademarked CustomerCentric Selling training workshops and co-author of a book by the same name.
"Before presenting their background and experience, interviews are likely to go better if candidates better understand the position and requirements," Holland said. "You can't fabricate items on your resume, but interviews should go better if you know what areas of your background and experience should be highlighted."
Holland also stressed the value of asking relevant questions.
"In my mind, it is vitally important for salespeople to understand buyer needs before starting to discuss their products/offerings," Holland said. "I despise the term 'product pitch' because it amounts to talking about offerings without understanding what parts are relevant to a buyer. Our suggestion for sellers is to diagnose before they prescribe. By that I mean ask questions to understand what parts of your product are likely to be of interest – and value – to buyers."
Holland also pointed out that having the right mindset can help the candidate to better understand the role.
"I think having an attitude that the interview is a two-way street in helping the interviewer know you and your background and you getting to understand the position will improve outcomes," Holland said.
Be Ready to Course-Correct
Steven Benson, CEO of Badger Maps, a sales route planner for field salespeople, said a job interview differs from typical sales situation involving a product or service in one key respect: the job candidate is less empowered than a salesperson to lead with key messages that he or she wants to convey. As a result, he pointed out the candidate should anticipate some degree of improvisation during the interview.
"I recommend building rapport on a personal level and letting the interviewer take the lead and set the tone," said Benson. "Some interviewers want to be casual and unstructured and some want to be very structured and formal. Take hints from then and then adjust the presentation on the fly."
Benson added that salespeople have found a way to prepare for such contingencies.
"A pro tip is to have clean answers that you have prepared on the tip of your tongue," Benson said. "Then you can present this material as they ask questions as if were spontaneous. It's important to not take too much control of an interview, since the other person holds the power in the relationship."
Moreover, Benson pointed out that your background research can simplify course-correcting.
"Take advantage of what you learned in the preapproach and shape your presentation to match what you believe they are looking for in an employee in the role that you are seeking," Benson said. "In this respect it's very similar to what you do in a sales call – mapping your product to the prospect's needs."
Benson added that what you don't say in your presentation matters, too.
"Don’t forget that listening is more important than talking," Benson said. "A lot of people over-talk and under-listen when they are interviewing. Sometimes the hiring manager will clearly describe what they are looking for, especially if you tease it out of them with great questions. Then you can map yourself to the role."
For the presentation, remember that selling is both an art and a science but one need not be an artist nor scientist to excel at it, Lavis advised.
"Study the proven science, and find out what works," Lavis concluded. "Then practice and prepare, be the person who has worked the hardest. Then the art comes all by itself."
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