The Most Important Sales Call You Will Ever Make

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James T. Berger
Senior Marketing Writer

Published October 1, 2010

            The current economic environment has turned the tables on many heretofore established executives.  Many are being forced to do something that never thought they would ever do again  — look for job. 

            While an intimidating task for anybody, looking and interviewing for a job may be perhaps less fearsome if the position-seeking executive has had experience in personal selling because seeking a new position is, in reality, the ultimate sales call.  The product is the individual and not some tangible or intangible product produced by a third party.

            When one does an anatomy of the process, the job quest is remarkably similar to the sales call — in almost every respect.

            Personal selling begins with a process called prospecting.  Here the salesperson seeks out potential customers.  The job seeker compiles a list of companies of firms that might be interested in his/her services.

            Next comes the pre-approach, where the salesperson does the research and due diligence on the potential customer so he/she can prepare the right materials for the sales call.  The job hunter also should go through the process of researching the company.  If it is a publicly traded company there is a treasure trove of information available in the form of its required SEC 10K and 10Q filings, which are public documents.  The potential job seeker can literally be an expert on the company before he/she walks in the door.  If a closely held company, there are many other sources of information including LinkedIn or Facebook contacts that might have knowledge of the potential employer.

            The approach phase is identical for the sales call and the career interview.  The basic rules of eye contact, firm handshake, proper attire all apply to the two situations.  Remember, in the sales call or the job interview, one “never gets a second chance to make a first impression.”

            The sales person when presenting his products should focus on the FABs — features, advantages and benefits of the product or service he/she is selling.  The job seeker also must dissect his/her offering and present a compelling reason why he/she should be hired.  Benefits are of particular importance and are most often overlooked.  The job seeker will usually be eager to talk about past experience (features) or even some of the very positive attributes he/she has for doing the job (advantages).  The potential employer is going to get these features and advantages from everybody he/she interviews.  What is going to make the sale — or job offer — are the BENEFITS.  How will you presence result in greater sales and profits for the company?  Will you be able to bring new business into the firm?  And how will you do it?  How will your involvement with the company add value to the firm?

            With any sales call there will be questions or objections.  The smart sales person plans for them and welcomes them.  No sale has ever been made where there hasn’t been some question or objection.  The smart salesperson – or job seeker – will know what they are and not only be ready for them but might very well smoke them out.  The job seeker might say something like – “You might wonder why I am looking for something in an industry where I have never worked?”  or “Maybe you are thinking that you need a younger man (or woman) for this position?”  Take those objections and turn them into positive benefit statements.  “My experience in another industry will give me greater perspective to the challenges of your business,” or “my years of experience will enable me to get off to a running start and start making a positive contribution right away.”

            Finally, there is the close where you ask for the order.  Literally, the sale person can ask for the order, but the job seeker cannot.  What the job seeker can do is express his/her enthusiasm for the position and the eagerness and willingness to come aboard.  A good closing technique for the job seeker is to send out an e-mail after the interview summing up his/her salient features, advantages and benefits and reiterating the positive contributions that can come of the job-seeker’s involvement with the company.

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About The Author

James T. Berger headshot
James T. Berger, Senior Marketing Writer of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.