Rainmakers there has never been a better time to land your dream job with a company you respect – On your terms!
This is the tightest job market I’ve seen in my 35 years as a headhunter. The competition for Rainmakers of every ilk, in every industry, is truly staggering.
The top sales professionals every employer wants is already on another team, in another company, or otherwise busy being awesome – but that won’t stop serious headhunters! Want to get on the best headhunters radar? Then set yourself apart with an accommodating attitude. Make it known that you’ll not only look at stronger opportunities but embrace the recruiter for the Value Add they can bring to the table.
- Be Hunted. Like Google, if you don’t rank among the first 3 people a recruiter thinks of when they’re starting a project… you won’t get “clicked” for the opportunity. Increase your visibility and expand your network by presenting at conferences, seminars – even usergroups. Ask to be your company’s designated speaker. You can have someone else write the material if need be. Public speaking is an effective job-hunting technique. Recruiters will beat a path to your door.
- Become the Guru. Write and publish short articles and opinion pieces for your industry’s journals and web sites. Learn how to be an articulate spokesperson for your company [at least in your local market] and make certain journalists have your cell number and can count on you for a quick quote. Ensure press releases from corporate carry your contact numbers for the local media.
- Networking is about who knows you – so be visible and cultivate a powerful public image. Make sure your promotions and major sales wins are noted in the trade press and visible through LinkedIn and ZoomInfo. People judge you by the company you keep … that’s especially helpful for you when it’s a high-profile coveted account.
- Rainmakers them proof! Keep an up-to-date deal sheet – instead of a resume – on your PC at work which you can share with recruiters when they call. Your IT department won’t accidentally find it and automatically assume you’re looking for a new job. Employers care 1st about who you’ve sold – 2nd how much you’ve sold – and 3rd is your rolodex useful to them. While you may not want to have a resume in circulation with contingency recruiters, a deal sheet can only help you.
- Sex sells. Does your resume excite and motivated people like lingerie from Victoria’s Secrets or dampen the mood like flannel? Excite them. Make it easy for employers to see what they’re after. Boring black and white resumes are like flannel nighties…. Instead, prepare a 1 page extreme guerrilla resume and dress it up with the names and logos of the major clients you’ve sold. Employers want to know about your wins first not your responsibilities.
- Rainmaker, want to be paid like basketball MVP Steve Nash? Then act like an MVP. The more you appear to be instrumental to a company’s success [with out the mind numbing ego part] the more bargaining power you have. Be forth coming with the details of your success which are relevant to the potential employer. Remain calm when they drill you for the details. Credit your team where warranted – it makes you look twice as good.
- Free Agents have all the fun and make the most money. When you ask for a lower base and higher commission you look 10 times more valuable. Most sales people are viewed by management as overhead and risk averse. Thus, the lower the base you’re looking for in the interview, the more in command of the deal you are because you appear more confident in your success. Be cautious when an employer tries to lock you into a high base AND high commission so you can’t be a free agent so easily … nice problem to have mind you.
- Know who you’re negotiating with. Ever drive a great deal on a car only to find the salesman couldn’t approve it? Knowing where they are in the hiring process gives you the power. What’s their time frame for a hiring decision? How long has the position being open? What kind of deal can you get with their competitor? Have then made any offers yet? Lastly, do your homework and understand what’s in the deal for the interviewer. Can they afford to walk away?
- Rainmakers leverage reward for risk. If you believe you’re an overachiever and you can convince them – then ask for less base up front. Negotiate extreme bonuses based on milestones that are meaningful to them: their first OEM deal, 1st multiple site sale, 1st Fortune 1000 client etc. Use your imagination and change the nature of the relationship from salesperson to rainmaker AND set the rewards appropriately.
- Over prepare. An interview IS the ultimate sales call. YOU’RE the product! You not only need to understand your product, but you must also understand the Buyer’s needs. Prepare a T-account on yourself and the opportunity AND then overlay it on the company’s competitors as well as the industry. Position yourself relative to the industry not just the company you are interviewing with.
- Use the tools of the trade. Ever use PowerPoint to make a presentation? Try it at your next interview. Personalize your presentation for each company. Show them what you know about their industry and then show them how you’re going to grow sales, increase market share and kill their competitors. Bring in testimonials and pepper your presentation with war stories that bolster your case.
- Qualify your prospects. Before you start interviewing you need to know what a qualified prospect for YOU looks like.
1st, choose the selling cycle that suits you best.
2nd, ascertain where you can best leverage your Rolodex.
3rd, match your style to the market.
Are you a Hunter, Farmer or Commando? Line up all three elements successfully in one job and you’ll triple your income.
- Question based selling works. The more pertinent the questions you ask in an interview, the better positioned you are to close. Disregard the weather, show them your time is valuable by asking meaningful questions straight off: competitive differentiators, product life cycle, time to market for new features, pricing etc. Asking important questions will elevate your status and hasten the offer.
- Rainmakers, Talk Less- Listen More and Take Notes. Taking notes forces you to listen without interruption and forces the interviewer to TALK. It shows you’re truly interested. More importantly, it resets the dynamics and the interview morphs into a business discussion – of equals — just because you’re writing down what they’re saying. They feel important and appreciated. Most job hunters just want to “pitch” themselves. Try the Socratic approach instead.
- Talk about money. If they don’t bring it up – you should – and early in the game. The rules for sales interviews are different. Why? Because a salesman who’s uncomfortable talking about money is also uncomfortable closing deals and no good to the employer. Now, how you bring it up is the cagey part. 1st, ask about product margins, 2nd quotas, and 3rd You want to appear to be obsessively focused on overachieving. This changes the salary dynamic and gives you a good sense of whether they have room to pay more base salary when they make the offer –and they will. Employers know they get the behaviors they reward.
- Negotiate and define your territory very carefully. There’s nothing worse than having management bring in “another guy” to work your territory when THEY decide it’s too lucrative for one person [just how is that possible anyway?] Get it in writing that when your territory explodes – because of your super human efforts – and YOU need more feet on the street, that the new hires report to you and you get an override on their production. It’s a good idea to probe about this in the first interview… it sets the tone of “super star in waiting” for them.
- House accounts are death traps. Before you sign ensure you clearly have the employer detail any and all house accounts even if they’re not in your territory. Get this in writing. Also read the corporate policy for creating new ones. Nothing like landing a $20M deal to find out it’s too large to pay commission on… how ludicrous – but it’s happened.
- Your mission is the commission. Does the company cap commissions or earnings? You better know. Digital Equipment Corp. had their best year ever and then everyone quit. Why? Because some anal retentive bookkeeper capped commissions the following year. The sales force whole heartedly revolted. The rest is history. Bookkeepers’ live off sales people not the other way around. Don’t let their slight of hand tricks ruin your income.
- Rainmaker: Sell YOUR sizzle… Sell your results not your methodology. Bring out your war stories. Get animated. Make the interviewer re-live your greatest deals. Your passion and enthusiasm is what will stick in their minds long after the interview is over. If they want more details on how you did it – AND THEY WILL – then take them through the planning and execution stages on their whiteboard – like a Field General at dawn.
- Sales Stars are zealots, not order takers. Believe in who you are. Believe in what you’re selling now — belief demonstrates commitment. Rationalize your reason for a seeking out a new opportunity around your current company’s deficiencies: like: heavy/light travel requirements, delayed product, confusing marketing, indecisive product marketing, buggy software, poor QA, deceptive pricing, caped earnings, etc. Encourage the interviewer to assure you “we don’t do that here” and you’ve got em. Make them beg to hire you.
- Bring out the big guns early in the interview. Selling is not about going through the motions. It’s about telling – with emotion. Let them know you believe in their product/industry/market because it saves/improves lives/the environment and promotes fiscal/moral Tie your reason for being interviewed to their mission. Wrap yourself in their flag!
- Stalkers get more offers. Most salespeople don’t follow-up after an interview. Unbelievable but true — begging the question: “What the heck kind of salesperson are you?” An interview is your most important sales call. Most people don’t recognize that the silence after a sales interview is done on PURPOSE. List en and learn now, follow up with a note, a relevant article and then a telephone call – spaced out over 15 calendar days.
Bottom-line: headhunters who are truly worth their salt are going to choose who they work with carefully – and making their choice easier by understanding your place in a deal makes all the difference when it comes to those recruiters who can help you stand out from the crowd.
Landing the kind of role that can change your life for the good – forever – doesn’t come from playing by the old rules. I teach companies not only how to recruit the right executives (and keep them) but also candidates, on how to make business decisions that will shape their careers.
Nicknamed the “Rogue Recruiter” by The Wall Street Journal, I cater to the high-tech, construction and real estate development fields, incorporating a novel approach to executive recruiting and headhunting which have been documented in “Hiring Greatness: How to Recruit Your Dream Team and Crush the Competition” (WILEY) and “Executive Recruiting for Dummies” (DUMMIES PRESS)and “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters” with Jay Conrad Levinson.
I live in Ottawa Canada with my business partner/rockstar wife, Anita Martel. We recruit on 5 continents, creating high-performance teams and millionaires.