How to succeed in sales by trying (just a little bit)

It's a sales-oriented world and you want your piece of it. Dr. Mark Goulston shares how to sell yourself to a future employer and find a product which you can believe in.
This is a photo of Mark Goulston, M.D.
Mark Goulston, M.D.

Have you ever been a salesperson for a company and tried to sell a service or product that you knew was not what the customer needed or wanted, was defective and where you were trained to be deceptive in order to close the deal?

Is it possible that the above characterization is what causes most people to cringe at the thought of “sales?”

On the other hand, have you ever been a salesperson for a company where the services and products you sold almost always exceeded and even delighted customers twenty-four hours, one week and one month after they purchased them?

It’s like night and day.

In the latter case, you and your customer don’t feel as if you’re a salesperson at all, but that you are truly being of service to them and even exceeding their expectations. In the former case, you and your customer both think of you as that slimy salesperson that fits all the negative characteristics associated with the word.

What does this have to do with seeking out a sales job?

Simply stated, you can use the above observations to land a sales job that you will be successful at, be happy with and it will help you be bold when going for an interview.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Identify an industry whose services and products you like and you use.
  2. Identity those companies with the best Yelp (I know, Yelp reviews are not the Bible, but they still can give you some useful input) and Glassdoor reviews (which may also be loaded more towards the complainers) that are looking for salespeople.
  3. Take the time to clean up your LinkedIn profile and résumé so that when a company checks you out, they are impressed with how you made both of those relevant to what they’re looking for.
  4. Seek out contacts on LinkedIn who work for those companies who might advise you how to apply for a sales job and have something to give to that person (perhaps a gift or a dinner at a restaurant in their city) as an expression of appreciation.
  5. When you get your interview, do more listening than talking. The more the hiring manager talks, the more interested they are in you.
  6. When hiring managers ask if you have any questions say, “I’d appreciate your being as candid with me about the services/products I’d be selling for your company. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 = highly disappointed and even angry and 10 = exceeding expectations and delighted, how would a typical and reasonable customer rate your services/products twenty-four hours, one week, one month after buying them from you. I’m asking because if their response would be close to a 10, 10, 10, I’ll be able to sell the heck out of them. If on the other hand, their response would be closer to a 1,1,1, I don’t think I’d be very successful.” Asking this question is bold but respectful and demonstrates your wanting to set yourself up to succeed for them and you.

You may think to yourself, “I couldn’t be that brazen especially when I’m the one looking for a job.”

If you’re thinking that, you’re mistaken, all companies are looking for top-notch salespeople who can sell with passion and if you know you’re selling something that exceeds and delights customers, it will be easy for you to summon that passion.

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Dr. Mark Goulston is an award-winning business psychiatrist, a consultant for Fortune 500 companies and the best-selling author of seven books. His latest book, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with Irrational and Irresponsible People in your Life can be found on Amazon. Catch up on Dr. Goulston’s previous articles here.

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