Coming up is the first new story from our new book: B2B Sales Mentors that we launched last week. Learn more: https://top1.fm/b2b/
The Sales Success Stories Book – 60 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals was published October 16, 2018. Learn more: http://top1.fm/book
In between the regular interview episodes, we’ll continue to release sample stories from the book like this one. You can either listen to the episode and hear Scott read his story, or read the full text below.
“How I Beat Out 300 Candidates for my Dream Sales Job“
By: Scott Barker
Beating out the competition to land a sales job is hard. Beating out 300 applicants for your dream job can seem nearly impossible. However, every amazing experience that I’ve had thus far in my career has been somewhere on that other side of impossible. In this story, I’m going to share with you how I was able to cross this seemingly impossible chasm and land my dream job. So backtrack a little bit. I loved my job. I was 24 years old, a business development manager at a fast-growing SAAS startup at hired a team full of my really close friends and we were all crashing it. I really had no intentions of going anywhere. But sometimes in life opportunities are put in front of you that are really too good to pass out. A company that I had been following for a long time. Sales Hacker was looking for a new head of partnerships and immediately when I read it, I knew I had to throw my hat in the ring, the network I would gain would act as a springboard for my career. So I got this tunnel vision and really went to work.
The only problem, 300 other sales professionals, we’re also gunning for this job, and many of them worked at what I would consider tier one tech companies like SalesForce, DocuSign, and Adobe possessing way more experience and education at fancy business schools like Duke or Stanford or Columbia. So how did I manage to tumble out the other side of the hiring process?
I want to share with you my step by step process for landing any sales job. Number one, Always be connected. The work starts before you even find your dream job. You have to be constantly networking as a sales professional so that you’re in the know of upcoming openings. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is crisp at all times. You never know who could be looking. In my particular case, the only announcement was actually a LinkedIn posts. So if I wasn’t part of the CEO’s network, I never would have even known about this opportunity. Number two, Follow a process. You need to reframe your mind to start looking at the hiring process as you would your sales process. In my case, I told the hiring manager straight away that I was going to do my best to go through this process as I would with one of their partners. If you’re not rock solid on this process, which is arguably the most important sales process you’ll ever run with them, then how can they expect you to rock it with their clients? For me, in order to apply, you had to complete this Google form that had eight questions and I made sure that I had thoughtful answers and bugged a friend to proofread it for me. Attention to details and speed of responsiveness matter. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you even begin. Number three, Engage multiple stakeholders. Now it’s time to engage other stakeholders and find yourself a champion. I reached out to the person currently in the role and then another person that was part of the C Suite tried to set up a zoom call video on ideally lead with curiosity and position it as you wanting to make sure that it’s a perfect fit for both parties. This is the perfect time to showcase that you’re a good culture fit and that you’re someone they’d want to work with every day because they will be. I was able to make a strong connection with the VP of marketing who would act as my champion had throat the process. shut out Gotenna Denali. Number four, Take an Omnichannel approach. I made sure that the hiring manager, in this case, it was the CEO Max Altschuler knew who I was. I went all in on email, LinkedIn, Twitter, even Instagram. Think you’re being too pushy. I’ll tell you right now, you’re not. Maybe if you were going for an engineering role or something along those lines, but this is sales. Persistence is good. Number five, Be passionate and be prepared. After all that, I was given the opportunity to jump on a phone interview. I was pretty nervous, so I tried to focus on those things I could control. In this case, I knew that even if I wasn’t the smoothest, I could certainly be the most passionate and prepared. I came to the interview with an agenda. I knew their total addressable market. I had a 30 60 90 plan. I knew they’re offering through and through had some suggestions and tweaks that they could possibly make. Had a list of answers or stories for common questions and of course had some intelligent questions of my own prepared. Make sure that you always get concrete next steps. Can’t overemphasize how important it is. Make sure that you always get concrete next steps. Number five, Send a video follow up as soon as the interview wraps up, make sure that you’re following up. That’s really table stakes, thanking them for their time and reiterating how excited you are about the opportunity. In my case, I sent a quick video instead of just a normal email to try to further separate myself from the pack. Number six, Stay busy. Now at this point, most people play the waiting game. However you must ask yourself just like a sales process, “Is there anything that I could be doing that would increase my chances of getting to the next round” for me who was staying active on their social channels with thoughtful comments and looping in with my champion to do a quick debrief on the interview. Number seven. I mentioned this briefly before, but it has to be said again, Always get next steps. Now for the real interview, I was on to the next round, which was your, you know, classic longer, more formal video interview. At this point, I actually started to let myself hope that there was a chance so I doubled down and made sure that I had my best success stories down path. At this point, my main goal was to explain exactly how I’d get us to where we need to be while showing how passionate I was about the organization. You need to show that you’re not just looking for a job, you’re looking for this job. Of course, tried to close the next steps and ask if there’s anything that they can see that would stop you from getting the job. Number eight, Go above and beyond. Personally, I’m over the critical of myself, so I left this final interview thinking that I didn’t hit on a number of points that I was hoping to bring up. Luckily, I was told the next day that I had made the shortlist. It was down to me and one other person. Truly don’t think I slept for about two days, but once again I asked myself, “Is there anything I could do right now to improve my chances?” I decided that there was, so I actually ended up hiring a graphic designer to help me build a sales deck on why I was perfect for the job. So I ended up hiring a graphic designer to help me build a sales deck on why I was perfect for the job. I even included quotes from all of my past bosses in there. Number nine, Do a hiring review. If you’re in sales, you do a lot of deal reviews. This is no different. The next day I got a phone call from the CEO saying that although it had been a ridiculously difficult decision, I got the job. He even let me know that he was leaning towards the other guy who had a lot more experience. Apparently, it came down to that video, that little extra effort, which he had happened to watch with his girlfriend, which put her on my side. The fact that I had an internal champion was huge as well and the fact they went above and beyond with the sales deck. Number ten, Focus on the 1%. Needless to say, I was pretty excited and looking back, it really wasn’t one thing that I did, but the accumulation of everything that turned the tide for me. Everything I did got me 1% closer to my goal and that’s exactly how you should be looking at your sales process or hiring process. So little did I know that the work was just getting started, but after a lot of late nights, it led to the best career year of my life and I was able to close $1 million in revenue in my first nine months on the job well above expectations. Also to top it all off. One of the partners that I signed, Outreach.io ended up acquiring our company less than a year later and now it feels like the sky is truly the limit. Now I hope this inspires you to go out there, put everything on the line and land your dream job. Lastly, I wanted to just reiterate some of the lessons that I learned from this process. Treat the hiring process as a sales process because it is you are selling yourself. It’s not just one thing that makes the difference. It’s the combination of doing all the little things right, be creative, pay attention to details and always do more. Another thing I learned is passion with a blend, trumps experience everyday of the week. If you can show that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, get to work and approach the role with unequaled passion, you can beat out experience. Then finally engage with everyone in your network as if you might work with or for them one day because you just might.
Want more from Scott Barker? He was the star of episode 53: Sales Hacker’s #1 and Only – Scott Barker