John landed his first sales job out of college almost two years ago. Yesterday, his boss brought him into his office and told him he was being let go. Panic immediately set in and John wasn’t sure what to do.
Many people have been in John’s situation. Knowing you’re not alone can provide a little comfort, but immediately turning this negative into a positive and taking action will ultimately get you back up on your feet.
Fortunately for John, the skills he built over the past two years at his first sales job are going to be exactly what will help him find his next job.
At this point, you know the drill – you’ve been through the job searching process, and you have learned invaluable skills as a salesperson. Now is the time to reflect on and learn from any mistakes that got you to this point, update your resume, check to make sure all your social profiles are up-to-date, and then take a new, vested interest in finding your next opportunity.
If you’ve been fired from your first sales you, following these familiar steps will help you get back into the game:
Build Your Prospect List
In your sales role, you were probably assigned goals and the first thing you had to do in order to meet those goals was build a prospective client list. When searching for your next job, follow the same process by immediately identifying your target companies and giving yourself a goal of applications to send out each week or month.
Going through this process, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Resources: Use all your resources to build your list. Niche job boards can be a good solution for job seekers, especially if you have a specific industry or role you’re looking for. These job boards have a strict focus, like medical or technology sales reps, so they are often a great resource.
- Networking: All good salespeople know that networking is among the best way to get new business and it’s no different in job searching – 64 percent of recruiters and hiring managers actually rate referrals as the highest-quality source of hires. So make sure you tap into your network to see who can help you connect with potential employers.
- Materials: You’ll need material to accompany the pitch, or application, so make sure your resume and cover letter are primed and ready to go. Sales is not taught as a one-size-fits-all template, and the same applies to finding a job. Make sure you are aligning your messaging with the companies you are reaching out to. Hiring managers are looking for someone that wants to work for them – not someone that is just looking to land a job.
- Expectations: When building your list, take some time to reflect on the mistakes you made in your first role in order to help you set realistic expectations for the upcoming interviewing process and the type of roles you should be setting your sights on.
Secure Your First On-Site Introduction Meeting
In your sales job, once you found an interested lead, you had to set the first in-person meeting and conduct extensive research to make sure you were fully prepared. Landing your first interview is no different, only you aren’t setting the meeting and the tools you use to prepare may vary.
You know that LinkedIn is a powerful tool not only in sales, but also in job searching. When preparing for your interview, LinkedIn will help you learn more about the company and the manager interviewing you: Where did they previously work, where did they go to school, how long have they been in the industry. If you’re super keen on the position, check to see if anyone you know is connected to the interviewer and see if they will talk to you about him or her.
Lastly, just as you prepared a presentation or informative packet to present at a sales meeting, you know that you must have a solid portfolio and a few extra copies of your resume handy for the interview. You should also bring a list of possible questions they could ask you with good responses in case you need to reference them. You’ll also want to bring a list of thoughtful questions for your interviewers.
Follow-Up And Meet Again
After your first on-site introduction meeting, you knew it was pertinent to follow-up immediately with action items from the meeting as well as a reason to meet again. This kept you top of mind, showed that you were listening to what the client needed, and ensured you’d see them again and get even closer to closing the deal.
In the case of interviewing, you know that your immediate follow-up should be an email or handwritten note (it’s up to you to determine which one you think is most appropriate) that clearly shows you were listening and learned a lot about the position and the company. Lay out solid points about why you would be a good fit and what you could bring to the organization based on what you learned in the interview. Make it clear why they should hire you – this is a sales position, after all.
You can also use this opportunity to connect with the person or people you interviewed with online. Send them a custom invitation on LinkedIn to connect – it is important you don’t use the standard messaging LinkedIn provides. This will make you look lazy and won’t reflect positively on how much you want the job.
Overcome Objections And Close The Deal
At this point, you know you’ve made a good impression and the client is interested – now is time to overcome their objections or concerns and get the second meeting. In the interview process, this is the point where you either get the good news or bad news, or get a call-back to interview again, likely with someone else higher up in the organization.
The end is in sight at this point, but if you have another interview, you need to make sure you keep your head in the game. You know that you should have clear goals put together for the second interview, and identify all potential objections or difficult interview questions that could come up.
It’s no secret that overcoming objections is an important skill for salespeople to have, so make sure you are able to confidently demonstrate this skill. If you feel you haven’t gotten enough practice with this, find someone that has been in the sales industry and can go through some mock objections with you. A good objection to address is why you were let go from your last job. Turn this negative into a positive by briefly acknowledging what happened, and then focusing the discussion on how you were able to learn from it to become a better salesperson as a result.
You may also refer to the job posting to determine what the most important skills are to the sales manager. By carefully examining each part of the job description and defining your strengths in each, you can use this to back up any objections that may come up about your ability to get the job done.
As a salesperson, thinking about the job searching process as just another sales process can help it seem less daunting. And remember: You got the first job, you can get the next one. And whatever happened at your first job to result in this situation should be reflected upon, learned from and then pushed aside. You’ll need your confidence and the sales skills you learned to go out there and find your next great opportunity. There is no doubt that you will bounce back even stronger and possibly find a job that is even better than the last one that didn’t work out.
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