Posts Tagged ‘Sales jobs’
Do you have a “One size fits all” CV?
Writing a CV with a specific job in mind, is relatively easy because it can be targeted. Getting your CV ready for online is quite another story.
The fact is that using your standard CV for all purposes is not the best way to get found by recruitment agencies or employers online. And the entire jobs market is online, if you see what I mean!
There is a specific reason for this. Registering your CV with an online jobs board, or sending your CV to an employer or recruitment consultancy has one particular element in common: A database.
1. How does it work?
An electronic database is an effective way of managing and storing vast amounts of data, in this case thousands of CV’s. Think of it as a huge storage facility into which all the electronic data is poured en masse, identified only by little tags of data that will help the database administrator dig the information out again when it’s needed. These little tags are key words or phrases.
When a recruiter wants to find a list of potentially suitable CV’s for a job, the databases are searched through using key words or phrases that will pull out suitable CV’s from the huge numbers stored in the database.
This isn’t dissimilar to a Google search: The jobs boards will categorise search results in order of suitability that is usually based on the numbers of times the key words appear in the CV. The more frequently the word appears, the higher up it is rated in the search criteria.
Of course, other search criteria also apply: Geographic location, salary range, qualifications, temporary or permanent, etc. but key words, in my view, is the most important way to find well-matched candidates. There are usually boxes to tick for these general search areas and this is automatically searchable.
When you apply to an agency directly, the likelihood your CV being stored on yet another database is very high and even though it might be additionally coded in this way, the agency will still need to know what your background is. You don’t always get the opportunity to discuss this first.
For this reason, writing a personalised CV for a database is not appropriate. There is in fact very little human interface until your CV is read AFTER it has been found on the database.
Obviously, if you are looking for a job it is important for your CV to rate very highly in database searches. The more “hits” you get, the better your chance of being successfully matched to a job and proceeding through the recruitment process.
2. Think like a Recruiter
As a recruiter it is to my advantage to find the best possible candidates for the job I am trying to fill through searching the databases. But without some really creative thinking on my part it is often very difficult to dig them out. I am always surprised how few candidates actually mention obvious information like the industries they work in, or the products they work with, on their CV’s.
With the databases jammed full of CV’s of any kind, getting your own to the top of the pile is really important. Sometimes stating what you might think is the obvious, makes the difference between being overlooked or not.
Recruiters get thousands of CV’s in every search. Improve your chances of being spotted by imagining you are explaining what you do to someone who has no idea of what you do. Write all the descriptive words down, and use them in your CV. Remember, a non-intelligent electronic system is going to be matching on these words. Then, they will be cross-examined with human intelligence. When I look at hundreds of CV’s, it is much easier if its obvious that the CV represents a basic fit, rather than having to dig too deep too quickly.
Most recruiters will use the first trawl to draw up a long list to investigate deeper the second time around. This is usually done quickly, perhaps by a quick scan only. You might be excluded during this scan, even if you do match the job, if your CV makes it difficult to find and process the information.
3. Optimise key words and phrases
Using the above ideas, you should have a good idea of what to include, but the following words MUST appear in your CV:
- The industry you work in. Don’t just tick the box on the registration screen, mention the words in your CV. Be specific and if there is more than one descriptive word, use them all.
- The products you work with. Do you design engines? Do you sell guitars? Do you service front end loaders? These are all key search criteria – The words that must appear in your CV.
- Jargon, acronyms and technical words. This is particularly important for technical jobs, or jobs in industries like Automotive, Aerospace or IT / Telecoms where acronyms abound. In automotive, words like JIT, QMS, FEAD, etc have become part of the vernacular and that is what recruiters might use to search.
- Job titles. Especially if there is more than one descriptor for what you do, make sure you cover the bases. For example Sales can encompass Business Development, Key Account Management, Telesales, etc. that all describe a variation on the same theme. Make sure these appear in your CV in such a way that they describe very specifically what you do or want to do.
- Specialist areas. For the same reasons as above, the more your specialist areas appear in your CV the better your chances of standing out from the crowd.
- Brief company details. In a very short paragraph, describe the industry, product, methods and systems to optimise key words whilst also explaining to someone who is not familiar with the company exactly what the organisation did, and in turn cast light on where you fit into the context.
- Systems and processes, especially if they are widely used or have specific names. For example, a system like SAP is very widely used and this might be a search word. If it’s not mentioned, the assumption would be that you don’t have the experience.
4. Less is not more
Sometimes it is not possible to squash all your skills and experience into the confines of 2 pages. Especially if you are a specialist or senior manager, I believe that making a CV too short might be to your disadvantage if it is stored on a database.
Write what you have to, but use bullet points to shorten the text and make it easy to find the information. Put your best attributes at the top of your CV, where it can be read first. Use figures and data to prove your abilities rather than just statements. Numbers in a CV is attractive, especially in commercial or sales jobs, as it provides a measure for your efficiency.
However, no Recruiter wants to read War and Peace so if the CV is too long, its likely not to achieve your objectives for you.
5. It must still make sense
Never forget that sooner or later, your CV will be read by a human being again. Optimising the search words is a means to this end, and the electronic search is the hurdle you have to cross in order to achieve this objective.
Don’t just list the key words. Use them to describe, concisely and intelligently, what you did and how you did it.
These tips should help you write a CV that is online friendly. Good luck!
Recently, I have followed a lengthy discussion on LinkedIn about whether it is really worthwhile entrusting your livelihood to a Recruitment Consultant when you are looking for a new job. Dare I say, the overall consensus was rather negative. The overriding opinion is that Recruiters are sales people first, and this means that job applicants are simply a means to an end. There is a lot of disgruntlement about service levels, and how applicants are treated.
Of course, this perspective might be different from the recruiting client’s side. They pay the bill so naturally, that is where the recruiter’s affinities will lie. But no doubt, even here it is not that difficult to uncover a real dissatisfaction in service levels, delivery of expectations and value for money.
There is a real drive for volume in the recruitment industry - KPI’s relate to sales calls, number of new vacancies, number of CV submissions, etc. This relates directly to turnover through the traditional sales funnel effect: High numbers put in at the top result in more results coming out at the bottom. The larger the business, the higher the overheads, leading to needing even more CV’s and vacancies to keep the funnel sufficiently full.
The economics that apply are no different to a manufacturing company selling boxes for example. The more turnover they need, the more units have to be produced, the more raw material is required, the higher the production costs, the more units must be sold. It’s an ongoing cycle. The difference is that boxes don’t have feelings, families, and futures like human job seekers.
The credit crunch of 2009 has dramatically changed the face of recruitment in the UK, with the high levels of unemployment and fewer jobs available protracting the industry and creating more competition. That has not really changed now, in 2014. In addition, an approach in larger corporates to drive costs down by commoditising recruitment through purchasing has somewhat removed the human aspect from the their recruitment processes. At the same time, many recruitment SME’s have established themselves in the market, with experienced consultants either being made redundant due to the downturn, or simply getting fed up of the treadmill and seeking a better work / life balance.
I think (hope!) that this will have a knock on effect on service levels. Independent recruiters work for themselves, so ownership of service delivery and relationships will be crucial to their success. This is in stark contrast to commoditised, dehumanised recruitment processes.
There will be, by default, a far more personalised approach in the business relationship, the fees are likely to be a lot more flexible and delivery probably of a higher standard. Of course there will still be the ones who sell very hard to simply get “bums on seats” in return for fees. But in my experience, there is a far higher degree of business consultancy and commitment in an SME because to the self-employed recruiter, every opportunity is a luxury not to be wasted.
There is still the perception, especially in larger corporate companies, that the larger recruitment brands represent stability and best practice. I would challenge this paradigm.
Giving a recruitment SME an opportunity to prove it’s worth keeps the economy moving and creates diversity in a market that is in danger of getting bogged down by corporate giants. The potential benefits to gain totally exceed the risk factors.
And it will find more spaces on shelves for “boxes” at better fees!
There is nothing quite like a new beginning!
I am delighted to announce the relaunch of Cathy Richardson Associates during January 2014.
With a new strapline of Resource, Recruit, Retain we will take steps beyond what is normally expected from Recruiters.
Resource: Away with Just-in-Time recruitment! Instead of waiting for recruitment needs to arise within our client companies before we react, we will pre-empt hiring needs. We will work with our clients to understand growth plans, recruitment strategies, medium and long-term business challenges, and any other elements that may impact on how our clients’ people strategies may change. We will build talent networks, generate market maps and identify key talent in our core markets so that we can advise pro-actively on market dynamics. We will help build employer branding and assist our employers of choice to develop the most attractive candidate attraction and recruitment strategies to maximise opportunities in the skills short jobs market.
Recruit: Away with outdated tactics! We will actively work with our clients to generate efficient, targeted recruitment campaigns based on a range of social and conventional methodologies to make sure we find the best possible candidate shortlists. We will engage actively with our candidates to make sure they enter into only the best-fit recruitment processes. We will manage these processes for and with our clients, using state-of-the-art psychometric and assessment centre technology to make sure that objective hiring decisions are made. We will work with all parties to make sure that the most positive contractual negotiations are achieved, and that referencing and due diligence takes place in all directions to ensure positive outcomes.
Retain: Away with one hit wonder recruitment! We want the candidates we place to stay with our clients. We want their jobs to turn into careers. We want our clients to build loyal, stable workforces where people are valued and developed. That is why we will work with our clients and their workforces to help with coaching, mentoring, honest broking, advising and ensuring that communication is outstanding. We will actively work with our clients to retain their people. This will help us build employer brands for returning to the resourcing cycle.
Core markets: We have built a reputation for recruiting successfully into the Sales, Service and Commercial arenas. As in the past, we will continue to focus on the manufacturing and techno-commercial distribution markets. This includes Manufacturing, Automotive and Distribution. We will work with Sales, Marketing and Commercial teams to bring the best possible teams of people together to ensure commercial success. This ranges from graduate or entry-level, through regional management and culminates in recruiting at MD, Director or Senior level.
Certainly, new beginnings are full of risk but as the economy continues to improve and the skills shortage bites even more, we look forward to wonderful things!
At the start of every new year, we all make resolutions of those things we would like to do or change during the next year. It’s a bit like spring cleaning: Sweeping out the tired old year to allow the new year to bring in a fresh outlook, new challenges, and renewed energies.
Often, finding a new job is at the top of our list.
But is it wise to simply just cast yourself into the job market, without being aware of what exactly it is you want to change?
Without actually understanding and being clear on why you are looking to leave your current job, you may not recognise what it is what you are looking for in a new employer.
Does money matter?
Better compensation is very rarely the true reason for people to leave jobs. In most cases, it is only a symptom of a more complex issue. We need to work in a place that is fair, trustworthy, and deserving of an individual’s best efforts in order to feel valued, respected and secure. Through the recession, your employer may not have been able to provide the pay increases you were able to achieve in the past.But often, people will stay employed in jobs that are underpaid because the other elements are provided for sufficiently for money not to be an overwhelming issue.
Where is the crunch?
Before you decide to leave, consider the following statements about your job and employer:
- I am able to grow and develop my skills on the job and through training.
- I have opportunities for advancement or career progress leading to higher earnings.
- My job makes good use of my talents and is challenging.
- I receive the necessary training to do my job capably.
- I can see the end results of my work.
- I receive regular feedback on my performance.
- Competition is constructive, and colleagues are not pitted against each other to perform.
- The communication channels are clear and open. I know how to address problems, and I’m confident that they will be addressed fairly and objectively.
- I’m confident that if I work hard, do my best, demonstrate commitment, and make meaningful contributions, I will be recognized and rewarded accordingly.
Yes or no?
The above details the most common reasons, through research by Forbes magazine, of why people leave their jobs. They should give you a pretty good idea of where your niggles lie. If you can’t argue with any of them, make sure you have a clear reason for moving. Possibly, your issue might be sorted out without taking that serious final step.
However, if you do find areas that you are not comfortable with, then make sure you research any potential new employer to make sure you don’t walk into exactly the same situation again.
Happy new year!
Once you have cleared this with yourself, and you understand your own expectations, good luck! The jobs market is dynamic at the moment, and hiring in 2014 is set to be competitive, especially for candidates in scarce skill areas. Find a good Recruitment Consultant who can give you industry and career advice, and who will support your endeavour.
Everyone deserves to be fulfilled in their working life. Go for it!
At Christmas, I sometimes get a bit philosophical. Maybe it has to do with most of my family spending their Christmas on a hot beach in South Africa. Maybe it has to do with my own children growing up. This means that our Christmas is changing to accommodate different geographic locations, evolving relationships and generally, life and its changes. Maybe it has to do with all the yoga I do so regularly – Perhaps I am turning into a philosopher through head stands! All that blood in one’s head must have some eventual impact!
Whatever the reason for my philosophical turn: This year, I feel immensely grateful about Christmas. I am grateful for health, for people who love and care for me, and for finding out that life can be totally brilliant when you least expect it. I am grateful for so much that listing them here will be impossible.
Sometimes, we forget about the little things. Christmas can be so “BIG” that we overlook the really important little things while we try to live up to expectations. Those expectations are totally imposed on ourselves by ourselves. And then, when everything is over and the wrapping paper disposed of, we are left empty and disappointed because nothing can ever live up to those unrealistic expectations.
This year, I am taking Christmas easily. I am enjoying the twinkling of lights and the off-key sound of the choir at the carol concert. I am loving my Christmas jumper. I am enjoying the reactions of my loved ones to gifts that are, for a change, thougthful and useful, rather than expensive and impressive. I am taking time to taste the mulled wine, to feel “Jingle Bell Rock” tickling my toes, to enjoy every bite of rich celebration food. I will worry about the thousands of extra calories next year!
For this, I am most deeply grateful: Discovering that being mindful of the little things, make the big things so much easier.
And this is my Christmas wish for everyone I know: That you may be blessed with the time to enjoy, to be jolly, and to make the best of this festive season without judging or false expectations. Just have a simply wonderful, blessed and joyful Christmas!
It appears in most of the “Worst interview questions” lists. But simplistic, general and non-specific as it is, its is also a clever question used by the astute interviewer to assess a myriad of selection criteria. Especially when attention to detail, getting to the point quickly and focussing on what is important, appear high on the selection agenda.
This question is usually asked at the start of the interview. With this in mind, there are ways to prepare for it properly, so that you can get into the more detailed parts of the interview. Answering it well will make a good impression early on, but waffling and getting it wrong might shoot you in the foot totally, or set you back apace.
Getting an Elevator Pitch is a good way to approach this. Wikipedia defines an elevator pitch as a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. So you have now become your own product, with features and benefits relevant to the job specification!
There is also a strong likelihood that the follow-on questions will be based on the way you answer this question. So delivering a strong answer through your Elevator Pitch will certainly assist you in directing part of the interview, or at least give you a chance to introduce yourself fully and mention some working strengths early on in the interview.
1. DO start with you:
Obviously! But keep it short. Don’t start way back when, just give very broad brush strokes about the personal stuff because this is a job interview, so you should focus on your working background. But it is good to give a warm introduction to yourself, to personalise the meeting and to display your well-rounded background.
2. Do talk about your education:
Where you studied, what, and why you chose those subjects in particular. Especially if you are an Engineer or if you are being interviewed for a technical job, this is highly relevant. Again, broad strokes are better than finite detail, just give them a flavour so that they can probe it later on.
3. Do mention your experience:
This is where you can direct the interview, to a point. This is really the detail that the interviewer is after and they might interject with questions. Invite questions by talking about your relevant skills or experience. Allow the first question to develop into the rest of the interview as it follow a natural conversational course.
What not to do:
1. Don’t talk about salary at this point. Wait for the question to be asked.
2. Don’t go into unnecessary detail. Value your interviewer’s time.
3. Don’t waffle on. Use your elevator pitch and allow the interviewer to drive the conversation
I am often surprised by how the prospect of a Competency Based Interview can rattle even the most seasoned of sales professionals looking to change jobs. In fact, it seems that some would prefer to do a presentation, rather than this style of interview. However, it really should not be a daunting prospect at all – Nothing at all like doing a presentation!
They are simply a way for you to demonstrate that you are capable, competent and suited to the job by giving real-life, situational examples from your professional or personal experience.
In most recruitment processes, the expected competencies required to be successful in the role will be defined when the job description is written. Candidates are usually selected for interview about how strongly their CVs represent their skills against the competencies. So it is common sense that, especially at second interview stage, these competencies are explored to make sure you can actually do what they think you can, based on your CV and the outcome of the first interview.
So a Competency Based Interview will most likely consist of a series of situational questions based on the competencies. As the expectation is that your past performance is likely to predict how you will perform in future, the questions will probably explore your past experience by asking you to give examples of past experiences, what you did, and what the outcome of your actions were.
You may not have any experience in a particular industry, but this doesn’t mean that you cannot demonstrate your transferable skills earned in the industry you are familiar with.
Always ensure that you are using the most relevant example for this competency, for example, if you are asked about a time that you have worked under pressure give an example of when you were under pressure but continued to succeed in your work. Remember; an interview is your chance to shine.
How to prepare
Although you do not know what the questions will be beforehand, it is possible to prepare for an interview like this by looking at the competencies required on the job spec. Think about potential scenarios, both positive and negative, in which you found yourself in the past that might reflect on your performance in each area. This will help you refresh your memory so that, even if you are asked a totally left of centre question, you will have some ideas to draw on to help you formulate a concise and constructive answer.
Never use the same example for more than one competency. This is your chance to show the breadth and depth of your experience.
- Listen carefully before you answer. The questions are likely to be complex, multi-part affairs. Ask for clarification if you are unsure, and make notes of the question if neccesary
- Be honest. If you are asked about a time when you have failed to achieve a goal, explain why you did not achieve your goal and what you would do differently in the future. A little humility can be a good thing, if it is prompted.
- Take your time and structure your answers. Explain what happened, why it happened, what you did about it and what the outcome was. If your answers are easy to follow then the interviewer will come away with a lot more knowledge of your capabilities.
- Ensure you use real-life answers. It will be blatantly obvious if you are making it up.
- Use ‘I’ and not ‘we’. The interviewer is interested in what you have done, not your colleagues.
Believe in yourself
Don’t forget to close to interview. We often spend so much time worrying about the interview itself that we don’t plan how to close it. Think about some questions that you would like to ask, but don’t ask them for the sake of it. If the interviewer has answered all of your questions before you have the chance to ask them explain this to them. Leave positively – express your interest in the role. Show that you are grateful for their time by thanking them for seeing you.
Interviews are a chance for you to gain experience, demonstrate your competence and potentially get the job of your dreams. Go in to an interview with a positive attitude and you are far more likely to succeed. Believe in yourself and be prepared, and don’t forget you wouldn’t have got to interview stage if there wasn’t something on your CV that made you stand out in the first place.
Whether you are an employer wanting to employ a new senior manager, or an experienced senior manager looking for your next career move, how do you decide on which Recruitment Consultant will be able to deliver on your expectations?
How long have they been active in your specific business area? Do they have references from similar clients or candidates? How did they perform in the past?
This should not relate to the organisation you are dealing with, but the individual consultant. It doesn’t mean that, because the recruitment company has been recognised with accolades, the consultant you are dealing with is automatically qualified or successful. Winning business awards often depends on putting forward a business case. Getting personal recognition depends on service levels and delivery. These will only be meted out on request and is a real indication of the efficiency and ability of your consultant, and therefore their ability to provide you with a successful outcome.
Realism and objectivity are two key requirements for success in recruitment. A recruiter who makes upfront assumptions is prone not to listen and will therefore get a subjective understanding of the brief or candidate expectation. I have often seen this tendency in consultants who previously worked in industry. Sure, a past track record in a particular market gives a recruiter a real insight but it also creates a hypothetical, internal understanding that they should know all the answers. Each employer and each candidate is different, even if they work with exactly the same services or products in exact markets. A consultant who lacks objectivity, or views himself to be in the decision making position (How often have we heard about the “perfect candidate” or the “dream job”?) is unlikely to deliver efficient solutions.
A recruiter who asks questions, listens, processes information and asks again to measure his understanding will be far more likely to succeed for both employer and candidate.
3. Market knowledge – Generalist vs Specialist
This speaks for itself. A recruiter who works in a vertical market in a specific sector is most likely to have a finger on its pulse, and can therefore be more consultative. This makes for a more proactive approach. A generalist is likely to have broader knowledge and therefore able to give wider advice rather than specific factual solutions.
4. Commitment – Retained vs Contingency
There is a lot to be said for a fee paid up front. This is contentious, especially in middle management level positions where there is competition from a lot of candidates and many agencies might have potentially suitable candidates. The current employer market is highly risk averse and paying a consultancy fee in advance seems to be a very risky move. The reality is that it actually reduces risk in the recruitment process.
A consultant who is confident enough of his own abilities to take a proportion of the fee in advance in return for increased service levels and a guaranteed result is in fact sharing the risk with the client. This in turn, benefits the candidate. Consultants can only work on small number of retained assignments at once, so there is a higher degree of quality in their output. Candidates are assured of an exclusive, managed process where they are fully informed all the time, and the trust relationships developed in this business context for all 3 parties are more open and communicative.
If these 4 elements are in place, it brings the likelihood of success in any recruitment assignment because it manages risk.
Unfortunately, the UK Recruitment market operates on a predominant no win, no fee basis that totally shifts the risk onto the employer and candidate, with the consultant purely acting as a facilitator. This business model works very well in lower level positions where volumes of candidates are required in order to find the necessary combination of skills, experience and potential. In mid to senior level management recruitment, it makes for dissatisfaction amongst specialist candidates and employers expecting certain levels of service for the increased fees.
It makes sense that the CONTENT of your CV is what gets you the interview, not the STYLE of it. Obviously, the person who reads your CV wants to see what you did, how did it, how long for and what you achieved in each role. Anything that detracts from that, detracts from your chances of being considered.
When you apply for a job, you would want your CV to cause the least bit of disruption to internal systems, so that it can get through to be seen by the decision maker. Formatting and trying to be overly creative with the appearance of your CV can shoot you in the foot.
In this case, less is definitely more! The best advice on formatting is always to go for a simple Word based CV, with ordinary spacing and using bold typeface to highlight important bits.
1. Ordering of dates
Always start with the most recent first. Reverse chronology of dates means the reader has to scroll all the way down to the bottom of your CV to get to your relevant experience. They may get bored and decide to look at another CV instead!
2. CVs saved as PDF
Your CV is likely to be stored on a database if you approach an agency. They would probably want to reformat it to suit their particular style. If your CV is saved as PDF, it is not possible to effect quick changes. Some databases don’t accept PDF at all as a document format. At best, it will need to be reformatted either by the database itself, or by an administrator, which means you will lose all the clever formatting anyway. At worst, your CV might just be discarded.
Using complex tables in your CV might look good and help you to sort the information, but often emailing or storing tables disrupt the formatting. And if your CV has to be reformatted to suit a recruiting client’s expectations, it can cause administrative headaches with tables that overrun pages, or tables that don’t fit into the set format. As for PDF’s, save yourself the risk of exclusion by going for simple and straightforward instead.
Believe it or not, I see many CVs that are written entirely in capitals. It is difficult to read, hugely challenging to reformat and simply not good English. Always make sure the capitalisation is correct. It reflects attention to detail, a good grasp of the written language and good presentation skills.
5. Multiple Colours
Recently, I saw a CV with all the text in red. It was amazingly difficult to read! Using too many colours, or even a single block colour, on your CV does not create the right impression. Go for simple black text on a white background – It creates the best professional impression.
6. Including logos and photographs
Don’t put the logos of past employers on your CV. You are selling your own skills, and that is what you should be focussing on.
As for photos: Just don’t do it! Unless you are in a performance related field such as acting, the way you look has nothing to do with the job you do. It distracts the reader from what is really important.
A large amount of text presented in a single block is very difficult to read. Space things out so that the reader is lead naturally through your experience. Use Bold type to separate different sections. For example: Place an employers name, dates and job title in Bold, and then follow that with a bulleted list of responsibilities and achievements in that particular role
8. Keep it standard
Finish off as you start. Make sure your CV has a uniform appearance, present information consistently in the same way (Spacing, typeface, etc) throughout to create a professional appearance. Anything different creates a haphazard appearance.
My own recent experience just made me realise, again, how important the personal brand of the sales person is to the customer and the buying relationship.
In this case, I was the customer who bought some advertising. The sales rep arrived in typical flush fashion, all high heels and big hair to signify her role in the media industry, and with lots to say about what would be best for me and my business. I listened, asked for advice, listened and asked for advice. This particular advertising medium was out of my frame of reference so I needed all the help I could get.
I placed the order, and in due course I had an email with my proof. I made a few little changes, assuming that what was delivered was right and appropriate given the detailed brief I gave, and also implementing the trust on my part that my request for advice was heeded.
Now I know that advertising can be hit and miss, so my expectations were pretty well-managed.
The first issue developed when the campaign started without me being advised of the date, so my back office systems were not quite ready yet. I complained, they apologised.
Off we went again, and 4 weeks into the 8 weeks campaign I had a call to see how it was going, and also to offer me some more advertising in a different medium. It wasn’t going great so I wasn’t going to buy any more advertising! But she did offer to make some changes to the current ad to hopefully improve the response rates. I emailed my new information, left messages and even emailed the rep to talk to her. I was ignored for over a week!
When she did eventually call, it was full of excuses about how her iPhone had let her down. Frankly, I didn’t want excuses. I was mortified that this sort of stuff still happens in modern-day sales! Especially when the solution she offered involved paying a lot more to keep the same ineffective ad running.
Eventually, I got to speak to the Sales Manager who was very quick to defend their business principles, but also pointed out that the ad was grossly inappropriate for the medium. I respected how well she defended both her team and her employer. But I was also surprised that, as the Sales Manager claimed to be a recruitment expert, and given my repeated requests for advice, I didn’t get to speak to her at all in the process? I felt even worse when she said another recruitment agency had taken the same package deal and had a fabulous response. Really? Why were they given different advice to me then, if we were obviously paying exactly the same price for exactly the same deal?
In the end, I am getting some of my money back. But the damage this has done to my perception of this organisation is huge. I will be very dubious to trust anything they say, ever again, regardless of the Sales Manager’s claim that they are an ethical business.
I believe that this is all down to communication within their business internally, and the lack of the Sales Rep’s ability to establish credibility after she had promised the earth but failed to deliver. As sales people, we operate hugely on a basis of trust with our clients. The client buys both the wider branding of the seller, and the personal brand of the sales rep. If the two brands do not line up, there is a real likelihood of a disgruntled result at the end. To the client, that person sitting in front of him making the promises represents the company and this is were buying decisions are made and later, regretted.
The true mettle of any sales person is tested when things go wrong. It is easy to manage affairs when it’s all hunky dory. However, a real professional sales person will put his own pride in his pocket to make sure the customer gets what he pays for. And this includes pro-actively ensuring that the customer gets the best pre-sales service as possible, to try and avoid mishaps in the first place.
Communication, at each step of the process, is vital to make sure the customer knows what the challenges are so he can make an objective decision, When things go wrong, emotions come into play and it is far harder to recover damaged relationships than to manage problems when they are still small.
But most of all, don’t ever make promises that you can’t keep. Forewarn the client of potential issues. And if you can see that they are making a mistake, compare the commission you may lose on the deal with the respect you will earn from being honest. The latter will get you referrals and probably even more business deals. Only going for the sale, at any cost, will end in tears in the long run.
Or have I missed something, somewhere, in this wonderful commercial world we live in?