These days, interviewing is simply a fact of life. At least once or twice (or many more times than that) during your sales career, you’re going to have to interview. I’m going through the Sales Roundup podcasts chronologically to catch up, and I’m on Episode 53, “Trader Up, What Managers Look for in a Candidate”. Mike & Joe make some really good points, and I’d encourage you whether you’re looking for a new opportunity, or looking for the right candidates, to go take a listen.

One of the best highlights I found on this particular podcast is to “Close the Interviewer”. This is a CRITICAL step in the interview process. When you think about it, your job interview is the most important sales pitch you’ll EVER deliver. Your resume isn’t what gets you the dream position, it’s the opportunity you have to give a consultative sales presentation to the sales manager/director. This includes ALL the steps in a sales process:

Ask the right questions (qualify the opportunity)

Uncover their business pain (why are they looking for the position)

What is their decision making process?

Who are the stakeholders?

Then, you simply present the right solution (YOU) in a way that makes it compelling to hire you. (Make sure, however, that you DO have the right solution, ie, that you are the right candidate for the position.)

When the interview process is done, close the interviewer. Here’s a sample conversation (thanks again to the guys over at SalesRoundup.com:

Candidate, “Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you. So how did I do?”

Interviewer, “You did ok”

Candidate, “So if you had to make a decision today, would you hire me?”

At this point, the interviewer can either say yes, no, or try to put off the question. If they say “yes”, then simply offer them your hand, and say, “Thank you, and I look forward to working with you”. Your initial sales process is done. You can leave, confident that this step in the process is complete.

If the answer is no, don’t leave it at that, don’t just walk away, ask them, “Well, why not?”

Whatever the reason, you now have an opportunity to handle their objections the way you would TYPICALLY handle objections. I’ve done a lot of interviewing of sales people, and this part of the process is REALLY telling. When you think about it, this is when the hiring manager really has the opportunity to see the candidate’s selling skills in action. Once again, the most important sales call of your life!

One more thing. You simply will NOT get hired (into a great sales opportunity) if you do not follow up. It’s ok for you to be a bulldog about this too, as long as you don’t turn into a stalker. Remember, this is ALSO a way for them to gauge your sales/follow up skills. Follow up and post selling a sale are two key commitments that, frankly, not every sales person possesses. One other thing? If you set the expectation for what they should expect by way of follow up from you, meet or exceed their expectations.

One of my key business mentors consistently says, “Promise a Neon, deliver a Porsche”. I must have heard that a hundred times, but it still rings true.

Some follow up ideas:

  1. Send a thank you note. Email is ok, but if you REALLY like the position, I’d either drop off or mail a paper thank you card.
  2. Follow up with a call – ask if they have any questions
  3. Follow up again. I like to send either
    1. A comprehensive email that outlines why you match the criteria you discussed
    2. A sample territory plan
    3. Creative ideas for how you might make their process better
  4. Call them again. Find out when they’re making their decision, make sure you understand the process for that decision

If you ARE looking for that next right position? Good luck! The best way to get that new position? Network your way in. Find out who you know. The best place to start is your friends and business contacts. I recommend that EVERYONE join LinkedIn as well. It’s pretty amazing to see who your contacts have contacts within.

Here are some great technology recruiters that I’ve worked with either as a hiring manager or as a candidate:

Robert Delridge, rdelridge@lucasgroup.com

Archie Gelb, archie@gelbassoc.com

Bruce Sundquist, bwsundquist@tx.rr.com

Paul Golitz, ptgolitz@bigdogsllc.com

Howard Longstaff, howard@hubrc.co.uk

Barry Silber, security@infosecgroup.com

Carolyne Connor, connor@matchstar.com

Tell ’em Dave Glenn sent you.

If you know of other good ones, please feel free to leave their contact information as a comment here.

PS. Have a great April.

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