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December 10, 2009

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Sell Yourself!

Last night I attended a mixer for sales executives here in Boston.  I had a nice time, however, couldn’t help but notice the undercurrent. Although most did their best to “keep on a happy face”, it was clear that these are tough times.
I spoke with senior people, top sales producers; all feeling the pain, many were unemployed.
As these events go there is never enough time, nor quiet, to hold a meaningful discussion.  If its the case that you were one of those folks with whom I had the chance to chat, or simply find yourself reading this and know someone conducting a search during this holiday season, I’d like to pass along a few suggestions to help you sell yourself that came to me in the quiet of my late night commute:
  • Go Social: Whatever your reasons for not being on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter; put them aside right away and establish a social presence for yourself.  Reach out to new and old friends, don’t  be shy.
  • Polish Up Your Shiny Persona: If you already have a social presence then polish your on line persona. Have a professional appearance in you profile pic; no shots of your dog, or sail boat, or girlfriend.  Just a simple clean pic, and a smile is always great.  Along with your new image, review your summary and brush up your employment history.  Make sure your bio sells you, that it is current, hip, and uses language aimed at the industry which you target. If you are not a great writer seek help from pros who are.
  • Tweet & reTweet: Follow every company that you are targeting and master the art of reTweeting their posts.  Essentially, via retweets, pitch their product for them.  As these companies begin to follow you, and trust me if you do this they will, thank each one of them. Leverage this point of engagement to connect directly, if the opportunity presents itself, make them aware of your interest in their firm.
  • Join Groups & Seek Alumni: Join LinkedIn Groups. Speak with other sales pros about what groups they find helpful, sign up and actively engage in the give and take. Be smart and get noticed. Most importantly sign up for old company “alum” groups; you’ll be amazed at the career path of that former 23-year old telemarketer that once made cold calls for you.
  • Evangelize: Blog; if you don’t have a blog, create one.  Write about your own experience, subject matter which reflects your IP, and your philosophies. For example, if you have been selling database technologies for 10 years, discuss lessons learned, new innovation, sales best practices. You may not get 10,000 followers, that doesn’t matter, what does, is that when send your resume yours contains a link to your blog, and the other guys does not.
  • Proof of Concept: There are tons of companies today that need to hire Sales Professionals but budgets simply do not allow the expense that comes with the best of the best.  Find these companies, especially the small ones.  Get connected with the CEO or VP Sales and discuss their challenges. If there is a specific need that you can fill, offer to address it via contract, commission only, or if it has great potential, for free.
  • Join the Human League: Leverage all of the above, but ultimately you have to get out there.  Find events like the one I attended last night, sign up for user groups, go to trade shows.  Don’t solicit for jobs within the venue, but build some rapport, offer a lead or two from your executive network.  Making something happen for them first will go a long way!
-- Tom Scontras, VP Sales & Marketing

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