How to Write a Great Sales Resume

I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the recruitment industry my entire professional career and have spent virtually all of that time helping clients hire sales, marketing and professional services staff at all levels, so I’ve read through a few sales resumes during that time.

I remember my first manager in recruitment telling me, “A resume is a tool to get to a first interview, nothing more.” While that was quite some time ago, I still completely agree. A resume should provide the reader with enough information to make an assessment as to whether or not it resumewould be worthwhile including you in the process (assuming you get it into the hands of a human being). It should answer the question “Is this person someone I should talk to?” This means that if you’re looking for a new job, you probably need to change elements of your resume for each position you apply for, just as you would a cover letter. It is widely suggested that a resume should be written in the first person and the writer should eliminate any unnecessary verbiage and make clean, declarative statements.

At the top of resumes, we see a lot of objectives– such as “Looking to join a forward-thinking company, where I can continue to develop my skills.” Sound familiar? Most of the objectives I read all sound pretty similar to one another and a little generic. Rather than call it an Objective, consider changing it to Career Summary.

The aim of the Career Summary is to provide a brief overview of what you do, what you have done and who you are – this summary needs to highlight why you may be the person who is the solution to the hiring company’s problem. You have a short window to attract the reader’s attention (current thinking is somewhere between 25-35 seconds!), so think about what content you could include which should generate the reaction you are looking for. For example:

“An accomplished sales professional with a track record of achieving revenue goals (from $1.3-$4m annually) through diligent territory management practices and high activity levels. During the last 10 years, has built commercial relationships with C-level executives across the retail industry, focusing on big box retailers.”

For a company that sells payroll services to the SME market, this summary might not work – sodata change it! One size does not fit all and you’ll need to review your resume for each application to ensure it presents you in the best way. Format your resume so it reads easily and grabs the reader’s attention (layout, font type, font size and bullet points make a huge difference).  One thing rings true – generic statements not backed up with data can kill your chances of getting an interview. For example:

  • Increased sales pipeline 200% during the first 6 months– 200% of what? How do you define pipeline? What percentage of the pipeline did you subsequently close?
  • Generated multiple opportunities in new named accounts – What does this actually tell me? Does an “opportunity” mean a sale?
  • Closed business with 3 companies in one month – Who were they? What was the value of these sales? If you’ve been there 12 months, what about the other 11? Is everyone else closing 10 deals per month?

Some simple tips to help your resume stand out include:

  • A hyperlink to every company you have worked for. Rather than highlighting the name of the company you worked for, make it easy for the reader to find out what that company did by hyperlinking the company name to the company website. If the company is out of business, a one sentence line such as “$25m provider of payroll services with 25 sales people’” will suffice. Listing your employer as J. L. Watts doesn’t help me as a resume reader. J.L. Watts ( does.
  • What do you do for that employer?
    • “Hired as part of a new team to help expand sales of new product into existing account base.”
    • “Tasked with generating new business revenue in the states of TX, OK, LA, and AK as part of a team of 12, reporting into a VP Sales.”
    • “Joined an inside sales team of 10, selling to clients over the phone, utilizing WebEx demonstrations.”
  • Provide some meaningful data and highlight accomplishments. Most sales people have goals. In some instances, companies do not set goals, so you should set some of your own:
Year Goal Achieved %
2014 $400,000 $360,000 90%
2013 $400,000 $418,000 105%
2012 $350,000 $372,000 106%

Talk about companies you have sold to (or markets they are in), how long a sales cycle tended to take, what kind of sales approach you adopted, your biggest order value and your average order value. Do this for each company. An example might be:

‘”Selling to automotive suppliers, I built long-term relationships with Procurement Directors and CFO’s. Sales cycles ranged from 2 – 8 months and I was successful in closing business with a range of companies including a tier one audio provider ($450k), a GPS manufacturer ($180k) and a linings manufacturer ($220k).”

You could then add a table, like the one above, to highlight annual performance. Highlight any training you have had on your resume – some companies like to see what sales training you have received. Challenger, SPIN, Miller Heiman, etc. and consider including your LinkedIn profile link on the resume (it will probably be viewed anyway). Just make sure it mirrors your resume!

Be brave with your resume, stand out, follow-up and focus on how you can use it to make sure you get that first interview.  Good luck!

Written by: Douglas FowlerDouglas

New to the Area?

         Moving to a new city is exciting! After all, you are starting from scratch with a new place to live and work. A new city brings sights to see, and of course, new people to meet! A new city opens up a diverse mix of people and cultures, including locals who have vastly different perspectives and experiences to yours, and will enrich and widen your outlook on life.

Navigating in Greenville can be especially challenging to someone like me, who is from the Midwest. That area of the country was planned by creating homesteads. So for the most part, everything is on a grid system; most roads are north/south or east/west. It took me a while to realize that in Greenville I couldn’t just turn on a road and expect that it was going to head in a certain direction! I also had to really think while I was traveling on I-85. I knew I wanted to go east or west, but the signs only say north or south!

How do you navigate when you are new to an area? How do you go about finding a doctor and other professionals? I found the best resource for most things was to reach out to my co-workers, most whom have lived in this area for the majority of their lives. Another great source for information has been our children’s school teachers some of whom are also new to this area and understand the struggle.

An additional resource is to volunteer at charities that are meaningful to you. The more you put yourself in places that fit your interests and lifestyle, the easier it will be to find people with whom you have things in common. Also, the more involved you are in the community in which you’re building a life, the easier it will be to feel at home.

I have also found that keeping in touch with friends from my previous “life” has helped a lot. It is so much easier to do in our constant communication world!  There is no better feeling than setting a goal for yourself and working each day to achieve it. Learning your way around a new city (not just physically) is a reward as you continue to see the progress that you are making!

Written by: Carol Tribby

Carol_Tribby_3177Carol Tribby joined the Godshall team in 2013 as the Director of Business Development. She was born in Wisconsin.  She lived there and in Iowa growing up. She attended Hope College in Holland, MI and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She lived in that area until she relocated to Greenville, SC in 2013. She and her husband have 6 year old twins and love to camp and hike in their spare time.

Does your communication style affect your career?

Well, you know, it’s like this, dude–I mean, hang on, no worries, its sweet, right? Many articles have been written about dressing for success, ie, dress for the position you aspire to, not the one you’re currently in. Makes sense! Now for the stuffy sounding advice: if you want to be considered as a future executive, speak like a CEO and write like a CEO.


When you ask a question, use a positive and even tone. For example, “Why are we doing it this way?” That sounds like a complaint, right? Replace with, “I’d like to talk with you about an idea I have to improve the process.” Big difference!


Your boss asks you how the client meeting turned out. You answer, “Oh man, it was brutal. We told him the price and it was wicked what he did next!” Do you give your leadership faith that you handled the situation well and that you are competent in your job? Replace with, “We explained our pricing structure, and our client still has questions. Would you be willing to work with me to close the sale?” Use language appropriate for work when at work. Clients and coworkers aren’t “sweetie” and bosses aren’t “dudes” except to their personal friends on the weekend (maybe not even then).


It’s worth mentioning that many studies have demonstrated that cursing is offensive in the workplace—even to those who might curse outside of the office. It is perceived by others as a weakness, an inability to control emotions. It can be a kiss of death for your career.


R U Serious?? Very uncool! Don’t know nothing about that–IDC! Even 10 years from now, when today’s teenagers become leaders, I don’t believe that the executive team will send memos to the shareholders in tech talk. Do u?

Written by: Julie Godshall Brown

Julie Godshall BrownJulie is the President and Owner of Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing. She has been with her family business full-time since 1995 and remained as President and Owner when her parents retired in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Clemson University and a Master of Personnel and Employee Relations from the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining her family’s business in 1995, she was a Technical Recruiter and HR Generalist with NCR (AT&T)  in Columbia and Liberty, SC. In addition to leading her firm and several industry related organizations, she is a very active community volunteer who has made an impact on the future of the Upstate.