BLOG: A Personal Selling Epilogue
Back in June, Rigzone embarked on a quest to highlight the personal selling process as it applies to searching for a job. I’m pleased to report that the resulting series of articles has been well-received, having performed well in terms of metrics such as pageviews and likes and shares on our social media channels.
When I wrote a blog piece introducing the series, I identified the seven steps in the personal selling process upon which the series would be based. Hopefully the articles discussing each personal selling dimension adequately answer a question I posed in that introductory blog posting: what do these terms mean, and how do they correspond to looking for a job? Based on the generous input from a cadre of seasoned sales professionals who I interviewed for the series, I can offer the following summaries of each step:
Prospecting and Qualifying
Sales professionals apply prospecting and qualifying to generate – and continually refine – a list of potential customers for their product or service. In a job search context, this initial personal selling stage demands that you determine which positions you’re interested in, which employers offer those opportunities and who you should contact to discuss relevant opportunities. Once you’ve completed this stage, you should have a good idea of the “target market” in your job search.
With your list of positions, companies and contacts in hand, you’re ready to dive into a more focused phase of background research in the preapproach. You learn more about the companies and industry in question. You cultivate your network and increase your exposure to associations that might help you to reach your professional goal. You generate a list of questions that you could pose to interviewers later in the personal selling/job search phase. You also spend some time soul-searching during this phase, asking yourself whether you’re ready to accept relocation and other factors that may come with the positions in question.
In this phase of personal selling, you start to put into action what you’ve learned in prospecting and qualifying as well as the preapproach. The approach begins when you start the actual job interview, and you and the interviewer(s) get the opportunity to begin “sizing up” each other.
During the presentation, also part of the “active” job interview phase of personal selling, you apply your background research. You articulate the vacancy as a problem the company wants to solve, show that you understand the problem and explain how you – by way of your relevant skills and background – are the solution. In this phase, focus on how you can help the company achieve a desired outcome(s).
Just as sales professionals often get pushback from potential customers, job candidates often encounter resistance from interviewers. Such occasions need not be the death knell for your chances of getting the job. In fact, with some foresight, self-control and evidence of solid background research, you can handle and overcome objections and even use them to your advantage.
Closing the Sale
Closing the sale marks the last phase of your job interview, but it typically isn’t the final part of applying the personal selling process to land a job. Instead, it offers you an opportunity to integrate perceptions gained earlier in the interview into your summary of why you think you’re the solution to the employer’s problem. You can make your final impression on the interviewer. Craft your close by integrating your background research as well as insights about the position and the company that you’ve gleaned during the interview. With the right amount of diplomacy, you can also find out the best way to communicate with the interviewer later on to keep your job candidacy alive.
During the close you’ve hopefully learned the best way to keep the lines of communication open with the interviewer. Following up – via hand-written note, email or phone call – enables you to stay informed (within reason) about the status of the hiring process. Moreover, it allows you to clear up any lingering questions on your part or that of the interviewer. Use the follow-up wisely.
It has been a pleasure interviewing the various sales pros for this series, and I’ve enjoyed writing the subsequent articles. For me, recalling the concept of personal selling that a former marketing professor of mine expounded upon, the experience has been educational. I hope that the series will serve as a useful resource if you’re pursuing the next chapter in your career. Good luck!
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