This article was written by Steven Steinfeld, a career and job search coach to students, recent grads, and professionals, on behalf of the Happy Grad Project. Although understanding how to conduct an effective and efficient job search is the one thing that every new grad needs to know, I have come across very few new grads with that knowledge. The purpose of this article is provide a quick and general understanding of the job search process by putting it into the familiar context of dating. Related: 2 Reasons Why Your Resume Is Like A First Date To start with, just as if you probably not enter a dating site such as OkCupid without a relatively clear vision of your ideal date, you should not enter the job search process without a relatively clear vision of your next job and employer. If you don’t have such a vision, you may waste precious time pursuing jobs or organizations that are not realistic or a good match with your personality, interests, strengths, and values. On the other hand, if you have a clear vision, not only will you be much more likely to bring focus, energy and confidence into your job search efforts, you will be a much stronger interview candidate by virtue of having genuine enthusiasm for the jobs and organizations you are targeting. It’s a good idea to take another look at comparing potential dates, even if you think you have identified the right one. Similarly, you should spend some time reviewing your career options even if you are relatively comfortable with your plans. There are over 400 broad professional job classifications and over 800 detailed professional job classifications, many of which you have probably not considered. There are also millions of employers in the U.S., including over 18,000 with more than 500 employees — each with a somewhat unique culture. Doing this research may help you save valuable time by determining which industries, jobs, and organizations to target, and may help you to avoid investing in additional education, training, or certifications that may be of little value. Once you have identified your best target(s), you can move on to the first key step in both dating and job search — networking. When you enter the dating process, you will want to give some thought in advance about how you want to be perceived. What are you going to say about yourself that it compelling to the point that she will want to know more about you (your “elevator pitch” or value statement). If there is interest, she will want to know about your background, including your school and work history (your resume), and you will want to add some compelling information that may not be obvious (your cover letter). If it goes well, she will encourage a first date (initial interview). She will likely investigate you on Facebook and LinkedIn (for your brand), and maybe do a Google search on your name prior to the date. On the date, additional basic and behavioral questions will be asked. The more experience you have had with dating (interviewing), the more likely that you will have developed effective answers. At the end of the date, you will want to get some indication of whether there will be a second date (next steps). You will probably text her to express how much you enjoyed the date and are looking forward to the next one (thank you note). You will introduce her to some of your friends (for recommendations), and she will introduce you to some of her friends (for reinforcement). You both think about whether marriage (full-time position) might work, and compare each other to exes or other singles you know (the decision process). Finally, after you discuss children and where to live (negotiation), you decide to ask her to get married (job offer). Of course, if you were too eager to get married, you might have overlooked some negatives in the situation, and the marriage may end in a painful separation before its time. This is why it is critical to only seek Ms. Right (the right job) and the Right family (the right organization) from the start.
January 28, 2022
Recently, a long-time colleague, the chief sales officer for a $21M technology company, reached out to catch up and asked for help to get to market in the primary vertical where I focus. He went on to share that his company made an initial go-to-market attempt by assigning a sales rep because of their familiarity with the product. He then admitted a modest return on their investment and a residual lack of knowledge of the industry, few connections, little brand recognition, or sales results. Fast-forwarding to today, he expressed urgency to relaunch with a short game to start generating revenue quickly and a long-term plan to establish themselves in the space.
For everyone who needs to crush a go-to-market with a new brand, a product line extension, or a new vertical, you need speed to market, the right audience, and well-placed efforts to avoid wasting precious time and resources. Here are (5) of the essential steps that I think of as stops along the road to an effective plan to entrench your brand, incite change, and deliver measurable sales results while catering to a new buyer consciousness and decision-by-committee buying process.
We’ll assume of course that the product and business have been vetted with a well-substantiated business plan to address market opportunity, competition, trends, risks, contingencies, buyer profile, pricing model, financials, and infrastructure to produce and support the product, process, and customer.
Stop #1 – Build Mind Shifting Insights
We all think our product is great, but a survey of chief marketing officers found that only 13% believed they could pass an ultimate differentiator test by taking the names and logos off of their commercial content, hand it over to a competitor to present to the customer, and expect that customer to find their way back to buy from them for their specific solution, outcome, or benefit.
A further challenge to profitable, sizeable sales opportunities in the present-day multiple stakeholder buying journey is the 38% of sales cycles that end with the buying group deciding not to decide. Research reveals the following about the modern buying cycle*:
- Average buying group - 11 diverse, cross-functional people
- Average buying cycle - 4-5 months to investigate, gather info, evaluate, issue RFPs, demo, re-demo, and deliberate
- Typical staff hours per buying cycle - 85-90 hours or more
- Frequency of solution purchase attempts that end in choosing not to choose - 38%
Translating this to the back of a napkin assuming a sales executive works on 60 sales opportunities in a year:
- 15 Opportunities/Qtr x 38% = 20 Opportunities/Yr x an Average of 10 Hours = 1 Month/Yr.
The numbers are devastating if we’re losing 4 out of 10 times to the status quo, independent of being commoditized and losing to a competitor. So how do we beat these odds and gain back lost and unproductive time and resources?
- Teach our buyers something new that they wouldn’t have discovered on their own
- Challenge the way they see their business
- Give them a compelling reason to take action and press into change rather than commoditize our product and their decision down to the lowest cost or risk or choose to do nothing
How? We shape our brand, message, targets, tools, and strategy by mining for understanding. Understanding our customer's business, industry, business environment, and the distinguishing value of our product to form the customer’s journey as we offer deep commercial insights, create change, and differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
Stop #2 – Discriminate When Picking Targets
No really, this kind of discrimination is ok. Just as it is hard to strip the complex down to the simple, it is counter-intuitive to throw out a smaller net to catch more fish. Two litmus tests will put us over our target to selectively invest precious resources and time on opportunities with the greatest likelihood to convert.
1. The last two years have shaken up the organizations, industries, and regions that are thriving or surviving. This means a previously good prospect may not be in a position to make decisions or spend today. The imperative is to research and segment to avoid opportunities that are going nowhere. Going back to the data subsequent COVID-19, companies seem to fall into three categories:
- 10% - In a growth mode (i.e. consumer products, video conferencing, PPP, ventilation systems)
- 30% - Business as usual with some cost reduction measures
- 60% - In slow motion, struggling to operate with heavy scrutiny on spending
Do the research. Where does your potential customer base fall? Rather than potentially writing off the 60% and miss meeting your numbers, dig in to uncover the hidden gems that have healthy sectors for their business or are doing a good job of pivoting their strategies to grow with a new market or product.
2. Evaluate companies to find where you can create the greatest demand and generate urgency with your insights about their business. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What is their status quo and behaviors that I want to change?
- What are the incorrect assumptions that they have about their business?
- What don’t they know but should about their business?
- What is the level of pain they are in by staying the same vs. adopting change? Quantify “how much” better will you make their business to substantiate that a new way is their only viable way forward.
If you can’t make a compelling case for yourself, they aren’t a good prospect.
Stop #3 – Nurture A Tribe
In a cultural shift, buyers now link their decision to their perception of your brand and experience as they interact with your company and product. This new consciousness looks for an easier and more enjoyable journey, shared concern for values and causes, access to a tribe to affiliate with other users as they interact with your product and brand, and they expect reciprocal loyalty with escalating rewards for their ongoing participation with your brand.
Stop #4 – Automate Touch Points
Smaller teams and fewer resources necessitate we plan our go-to-market and ongoing support of our community with automated touchpoints in tandem with personal touch. Creating rhythms with campaigns, multi-purposed content, and using a handful of innovative tools to support our communications with automation is essential to supplement personal interactions with our network, social media engagements, speaking events, and conferences.
Stop #5 – Rock Your Social Media
In a few short years, our ability to virtually network in the absence of travel and in-person events, convey volumes of information, and create seismic impact has exploded with social media. Out-of-touch, one-dimensional blog posts, reposting lackluster content produced by an uninformed marketing department, or depending on “thought leadership” as the primary strategy to stand out from competitors has no statistically measurable impact on changing buying behavior. Instead, adding to in-person opportunities with face-to-face video content, articles, and active engagements with your executives and sales leaders who teach new and compelling insights will drive credibility and motivate change. These are essential for relevance, influence, and dominance. Miss the boat and fall behind.
*Research taken from CEB Advisory Group analysis and 2012 CEB Commercial Insights Assessment
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