I’m Not In Sales, Why Network?

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Have you ever heard that phrase before? This phrase can be looked at as both a positive and a negative.

My dad used to tell me this growing up and it was always used as an excuse when things would not turn out our way. Both of us being avid sports fans, my father used to tell me that is was hard to get the tickets to the big games even though we knew everything about our teams: the offenses they ran, the players, the history, etc. Years after hearing this constantly, I found myself sitting court side in Chapel Hill on fold out chairs behind Clemson’s bench watching my Tigers lose yet again to the Tar Heels in the Dean Dome. My guest at this event was my dad. Even though my dad knew a lot about the game, it was the student manager I knew from my days as the Clemson Tiger that got us the seats.

At Clemson, I was able to take my role as the mascot and build a network that has thrived for over 20 years. I have been able to take my boys on the field during Clemson football games and experience more due to the people who I have been able to help out and those that have helped me back. Because of my network, my experience of a Clemson event has vastly improved.

It takes only 5 minutes of your day to have a short conversation with someone, or respond to an e-mail. The next message you get in your inbox, may be a life-changer but you wouldn’t know this if you didn’t take the time to respond to this person.

I think back on the last two jobs that I’ve had and how I got them. I obtained the position of Director of HR through someone I had met six years prior to that. My current role at Godshall goes back to 1999 when the owner, Julie Godshall Brown, and I served on the same GSHRM committee and continued to stay in contact through the years. Eleven years later we connected and I am now in a role that I truly enjoy.  People may think that you have to be in sales to build a network, however I will tell you that your network is the most valuable resource you can have in work and in life.

I sat there on the 50 yard line in the board of trustee’s box watching Clemson play BC as Matt Ryan killed our hopes to go the ACC Championship game. We “tailgated” with people at Clemson who have buildings named after them. My dad sat there with me and I pointed to the upper deck where we sat for our first game. I reminded him of the phrase that he shared with me his whole life as we were living the ultimate Clemson experience… “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know…”

Written by: Michael BaysMichael Bays

Michael Bays has been with Godshall for 5 years as a Technical Recruiter and brings over 12 years of recruiting experience through prior employment.  Michael holds a Master of Human Resources Development Degree from Clemson along with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management.  One interesting fact about Michael is that he holds the career push-up record when he was the Tiger mascot at Clemson.

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 (www.jlwatts.com) 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