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So You Want to be a Sales Person


So You Want to be a Sales Person
January 1, 2015, 7:00:00 PM EST   By Shoa Appelman
Applying for a sales position

New Year, New Job

It's the New Year, and Resolution #1 on your list is to start moving on up. Upon careful review of different job positions, you realize that a position in sales may be a lucrative career option. You are correct. What's the next step?

What Hiring Managers Look for When Hiring a Sales Representative

Sales representatives are a major key to business success. People in this position are often the face of an organization, so it is critical they make a positive impression on customers and clients. A sales representative must always demonstrate an understanding of client concerns and be able to find solutions that help develop customer confidence and satisfaction with the organization. Sales representatives should be able to listen well, ask questions, and be able to learn new information quickly.

Whether it's through:
  • Face-to-face communication
  • Email messages
  • Proposal submissions
  • Phone calls, or
  • Social media interactions
A sales representative must effectively communicate with their team members and customers for success in the role.

Common Day-to-Day Tasks in a Sales Role

On a daily basis, a sales representative may complete any of the following tasks.

  • Negotiate prices or terms of sales or service agreements.
  • Prepare and submit sales contracts for orders.
  • Visit establishments to evaluate needs or to promote product or service sales.
  • Maintain customer records, using automated systems.
  • LAnswer customers' questions about products, prices, availability, or credit terms.
  • Quote prices, credit terms, or other bid specifications.
  • Contact new or existing customers to discuss how specific products or services can meet their needs.
  • Emphasize product features based on analyses of customers' needs and on technical knowledge of product capabilities and limitations.
  • Compute customer's installation or production costs and estimate savings from new services, products, or equipment.
  • Select or assist customers in selecting products based on customer needs, product specifications, and applicable regulations.
Source: O*Net:41-4011 Sales Representative

How to Stand Out When Applying for a Sales Position

Sales representative positions can be competitive. The best thing you can to do win the job is to pursue the role as you would pursue a sales client.

1. Do some research

Look up the company online. Understand their key messages and employer culture. Take a look at some of their competitors in the space and see how your prospective employer differentiates itself.

2. Pick up the phone

As a sales representative, you need to communicate with prospective customers. Demonstrate to your future manager that you know how to call people. Show them that in today's age of text messages and web forms, you know how to pick up the phone and reach out to a real person.

3. Ask about their needs

The job requirement posting should outline their requirements, but sometimes the hiring manager did not write that post. Make it clear you have read the job posting, and ask questions that the job posting did not adequately address. For example, job postings rarely list challenges the manager might be facing. Ask questions that will help you get a better sense of the person the hiring manager wants to hire. Answers to these questions will help you understand the hiring manager and help you determine when you would be a good fit for the role.

4. Listen

Always listen. If you are asking questions, you should be taking notes on the responses so that you can remember the information. And being a good listener isn't just helpful when applying for a sales position. Listen when talking with friends, when applying for jobs, when talking to a sales prospect. Listen to other people. It's an easy way to learn quickly.

5. Apply for the position

After you have done some research and talked to the manager, apply for the position via the process outlined on the posting or the process the manager might have explained to you. Demonstrate that you are willing to put in the effort it takes to apply for the job, because that helps prove you are willing to put in the effort it takes to succeed on the job.

6. Put your best food forward

If there is an employment test, try your best. Every stage of the application process, much like every stage of the sales process, matters. The tests are not designed to be tricky: if there is a writing sample requirement, spell check your work. If there is a math question and calculators are allowed, use a calculator. Use resources that would be available to you in a real work setting.

You're a savvy reader, so right now, you might be thinking, "Wait a minute. HR Avatar sells pre-employment sales tests. Why would you tell job candidates how to get a job?" I'm glad you're reading critically. Here's the thing: hiring managers want to hire good people. And our goal with HR Avatar employment tests is to match good employees with good managers. If you do research (re: read this piece) and apply that learning effectively, you are already demonstrating skills that are consistent with skills good employees have. Our tests, which are simulation based, will be just one additional way to demonstrate your prowess to prospective employers.

7. Send a follow-up note

If you have successfully identified the hiring manager, and the hiring manager took the time to speak with you, you should definitely send a follow-up note thanking them for the opportunity to apply. A note will be just one more opportunity to stand out from the crowd, improving your odds of being called in for an interview.

Sales Simulation Try Out

We've talked about what it takes to be a sales person, day-to-day tasks, and how to stand out during the application process. Are you curious about what it's like to be in a sales position? Well, you're in luck! HR Avatar offers virtual job simulations that let you try out tasks. Click the link below to try a Sales Simulation Task.

Sales job virtual tryout

A Note for Hiring Managers

If you're a hiring manager, thank you for reading! If you have tips for successful applicants, please include them in the comments section. And if you're interested in HR Avatar job simulation employment tests to evaluate an applicant (sample report available below), please contact us.

(Click to view the full detailed sample report.)


Shoa Appelman

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