Goal Planning for 2017 Made Easy (Webinar: Dec 8)

It’s that time of the year again – goal planning for the New Year!

If that task seems intimidating to you, or, if you didn’t make any of your goals this year because they were either too ambitious or hard to follow, then I’ve got great news for you.

Nest Thursday, my colleague, Laura Posey, is going to give my readers a free Webinar entitled: “Goal Planning for 2017 on One Sheet of Paper.”

Now who wouldn’t want to do that?

I’ve been using Laura’s method for years and it’s fantastic! Hey, goal setting doesn’t have to be difficult if you just get focused on what’s going to get you into the Top 20% of earners at your company.

Sign Up Here

The Webinar is next Thursday, December 8th, 2016, at 3 PM Eastern. Don’t miss it.

Laura is a master of cutting through the crap and getting to the most productive, result-producing impact in the fastest time possible.

And she makes it so easy to do the things she teaches.

In this webinar, you will discover:

*  How to work less and increase your sales
*  Why goal setting is killing your results… and what to do instead
*  How to cut through the chaos and become laser-focused on the most profitable actions you can take to increase sales in 2017
*  How to tap into your “hidden creativity” to solve your biggest problems, quickly and effectively
*  How to get your entire team working at their highest levels of productivity – without micromanaging or stress
*  And much, much more

If you plan on goal setting for 2017, then you need to Join Us on Thursday, December 8th, at 3 PM Eastern.

A little bit about Laura Posey:

Laura is Chief Instigator at Simple Success Plans. She works with entrepreneurial companies to get them focused, aligned and driving higher profits with less stress.

Laura is a sought after international speaker and facilitator. She strategic planning clients range from a $27 billion multi-national IT distributor to a small, local mold testing lab and everything in between. In addition to her strategic planning work, she is called on to improve sales and marketing results for companies throughout the US and Canada.

Laura has over 20 years of experience in driving results for her clients but she has also “done the work in the trenches”. From making over 30,000 cold calls at dinnertime to sell insurance to maxing out her credit cards to launch her first business, Laura has the real-life experience to know what it takes to succeed.

She has done the work so she can show you the shortcuts.

So join us next Thursday.

You’ll be glad you did!

Mike Brooks

Two Questions to Close a Sale

I was having breakfast with a client in Denver before a training program I was giving, and we were talking about the importance of asking questions and listening. He told me that a few years ago he was working for a company selling an IT solution, and that while dealing with the Director of IT, he suddenly had an opportunity to meet the new CFO. This was unexpected and he had to think fast!

Here’s what happened:

As he was leaving, and right after meeting with the IT Director, he asked him how he could get in front of the new CFO (knowing that the CFO was the ultimate decision maker). Just as he asked this question, an executive was walking down the hall toward them. The Director said, “That’s the new CFO right there. Let me introduce you to him.”

As he was introduced, my client asked the CFO, “I’d love to spend a few minutes with you and wondered when we could get some time on your calendar to do that?” To his surprise, the CFO said, “I have about 10 minutes right now, come on into my office.”

He followed the CFO into his office, sat down across the desk and the CFO said, “So, what’s on your mind?” My client’s mind went blank, and he just sat there for a moment. He hadn’t expected to be here at this time and found himself unprepared.

Luckily, that didn’t last too long and before he knew it he said, “I have just two questions for you. First, when a client of yours leaves you and buys from someone else, what is the main reason for that? And second, what is the main reason a new client goes with you rather than your competition?”

After that, my client opened his notebook, pen in hand, and waited.

And waited. And waited…

After nearly five full minutes (a nerve racking five minutes to be sure), the CFO finally began to speak. “That’s a great question, and I’m going to have to think carefully about that. In fact, no one has ever asked me that before…”

The CFO then went on to give his thoughts about this, and, after he was done, he thanked him and promised to follow up with more information – which he did. After a few weeks, the CFO then followed up again and made a purchase from my client and his company.

He said of the interaction: “The two questions you asked me were the best two questions I’ve ever been asked. They forced me to evaluate the only two things that really matter – what means the most to our clients.”

My client was obviously pleased with how this turned out, but he told me that the real lesson he learned from the interaction is just how long some prospects take to think about questions they are asked.

He told me, “Since I was there when I asked the question, I could see he was carefully thinking about my questions. Since I could see that, I didn’t interrupt him – instead I just shut up and let him think.

He continued: “This situation revealed the real challenge we face as inside sales reps. When we ask questions over the phone and don’t get an immediate response, we tend to keep talking. This is the worst thing we can do. We absolutely have to train ourselves to ask questions and then remain quiet and listen.”

When I asked him the best way to teach reps to do this, he said that using the mute button was the easiest and best way.

If you have read any of my articles or books, then you know my favorite four words are, “Shut up and listen.” You also know that I think the mute button is the most important button on your phone.

To prove this to yourself, make a commitment today to asking questions and using the mute button to let your prospect answer you. You’ll be surprised by what your prospects will reveal and how much easier it is to close sales.

How to Negotiate for Higher Pay (Part Five of Five)

Welcome to Part Five of our five part series entitled: “How to Apply for and Get a Better Paying Job.” If you have been following along, then by now you have learned some crucial steps you can take to virtually guarantee you get called back by the hiring manager of the job you really want.

Now that you have taken some time to write out sample cover letters, and have invested the time to customize your resume to the job(s) you want, you have no doubt landed interviews with the kinds of companies that can further your career. If you have interviewed well – in other words, if you carefully listened to each question the hiring manager asked, and then responded succinctly and on point (without over talking), and you were upbeat and confident – then you probably have several offers from competing companies. What a nice position to be in!

If so, then the final piece to landing the job of your dreams is to learn how to ask for – and get – the kind of salary or compensation package you really deserve. And what we’re talking about here is learning how to negotiate how you are compensated. What is so interesting about this phase of the interview process is that most people don’t even know (or attempt) to negotiate their comp plans. Instead, they think that what they are offered is what they have to accept. And that is not always the case.

The reason for this is because it is very hard for companies to find good people to hire. Just think about how many resumes the hiring manager receives (hundreds for a sales position), and think about how many of those are no good (for one or many reasons). Again, 80 – 90% of the resumes a company receives are not qualified for the position.

Next, think about all the interviews a hiring manager has to deal with. First, anywhere between 20 to 30% of interviews don’t even show up! No calls of explanation – just a no-show. Next, of the people that do show up, many of them are disqualified in person for one reason or another.

And then think about how excited the hiring manager is to finally meet you. First, your cover letter and resume put you at the top of the list. In fact – and take it from me, again, I’ve interviewed thousands of job applicants over the years – once a hiring manager has seen the kind of resume you have put together, they are chomping at the bit to meet you. Unless you show up in a ripped jeans and a tank top, or if you can’t string two words together, OR if you can’t shut up after answering a question, then just plan on being offered the position.

I’ll tell you now, the hiring manager is praying that you are even half as good as your resume, and if you are, then you are going to get an offer. And after you do, the hiring manager will be praying again that you accept it. This will save her/him all the time of searching through and screening unqualified applicants again.

So once the hiring manager has met with you, and you aced the interview, this is your best chance to begin negotiating for either a higher salary, a better comp plan, or both – or more! There are several areas you can negotiate and they are listed below. Be confident, recognize that you hold all the cards here and that all they can say is no. In fact, in many cases, they will make you a counter offer which means you still win!

#1: As for a sign-on bonus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, more than two-thirds of companies have trouble recruiting full time talent. And because companies have trouble finding qualified candidates, once they find one, they will often go out of their way to land them. In fact, according to WorldatWork, 76% of all companies now offer sign-on bonuses. And they are not just for CEO’s or other executives either.

The way to ask for a sign-on bonus is pretty straight forward. After the hiring manager has laid out the compensation package, if no sign-on bonus is offered, you simply ask (in an assumptive way):

“And what type of sign-on bonus do you offer?” And then sit quietly and let them talk.

As you noticed, I said to ask for it in an assumptive way, not ask: “Do you offer a sign-on bonus?” This is important. Asking in an assumptive way tells them this is something you expect or perhaps might have been offered from other companies.

If they say there isn’t a sign-on bonus, then you can calmly come back with,

“I see. Well there are other opportunities I’m meeting with (or have met with), and if all things are equal, one of the deciding factors for me will be a sign on bonus. So let me get back with you after I’ve completed my interviews.”

If they still aren’t willing to at least see if there is a bonus, then just leave cheerfully and tell them you will be in touch with them. Believe me, if you made as good of an impression as your resume and cover letter did, then that hiring manger is going to go to the powers that be and talk about what they can offer you as a sign-on bonus.

If you decide – even if they don’t offer you a bonus – to take a job with that company, then you will have set them up for the next discussion which is to receive more pay.

#2: Ask for regular salary adjustments. This is an area where that sales reps (and other employees) seldom think about, but it can make a huge difference in your overall earning ability. For example, a salary adjustment (or raise) of just $10,000 a year by the time you are 45 years old, can mean an additional $232,000 in life time earnings. That’s big and can count a lot towards your retirement egg.

There are two ways to go about this. One is to ask for an annual salary review and the other is to ask for a salary increase based on performance – good for sales compensation packages such as commission sales. Let’s take them one at a time:

Asking for a salary adjustment can be based on either how you are compensated in proportion to others who have similar positons in similar companies, or a salary adjustment can be tied to an annual performance review. Either way, you should be prepared for the review by knowing what other positions are currently paying or/and by having a documented list of achievements or contributions you have made throughout the year.

During these annual reviews (or you can negotiate a semi-annual review), make sure you are able to justify why you deserve a salary adjustment, and help them realize your value. Be prepared to quantify your contributions and show how you performed in a department or on a project, in terms of time line, budget and overall effectiveness. Also, see if you can show how your contribution impacted the bottom line.

If you are in sales (and confident in your sales ability), then tie your salary adjustment to an increase in monthly commission payout. Make this a tiered increase so that the more you sell, the more you are compensated. One tip here is to always make your next level payouts retro-active on your total sales for the month. An example would be if you earn 10% on sales volume up to $100,000, then ask for 13% (or more!) once you hit $101,000. But make it so that you earn that 13% on the entire sales volume, not just the amount over.

By the way, if you are asking for an increase in sales commission based on performance, you can also request a salary adjustment as well. The two are not mutually exclusive!

#3: The other way to earn more money when you sign on with a new company is to ask for a more senior position. This is something people rarely do, but this is a great way to instantly elevate your career. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people tell me they went for a job as a member of a sales team and ended up in a supervisory role. I’ve also heard people go in for a marketing support role and were hired on as the marketing manager.

The reason for this is the same as before: Good help is hard to find! If you think hiring a sales rep is hard, you should hear how hard it is for companies to find good managers. And if you’ve been in sales a while (or any other field), then you probably have been managed and know a lot about the job description already. Also if you’ve been helping out in your department as you should be, then you probably already have some of the skills an employer is looking for.

You now have three different ways of earning more money with a company than you are probably used to getting. Don’t be shy about asking for it; remember: nothing ventured, nothing gained. If they say no, you haven’t lost anything, but if they say yes, you’ll have gained a lot!

This completes this series on “How to Apply for and Get a Better Paying Job.” You’ve learned some proven strategies that can and will get you better paying jobs that can mean a tremendous amount to you in terms of job satisfaction and lifetime compensation. I know that if you just take some time to apply what you’ve learned, then you and your family will be better off for it.

In the meantime, I wish you all the success in finding and landing your dream job!

Selling to Influencers (New Webinar: Nov 17th, 3pm EST)

These days, there can be a lot of people standing between you and the ultimate decision maker. There are assistants, office managers, purchasing agents, other C level managers, and in the case of B to C, even spouses and other family members. In some cases, you may be speaking with part of the decision making team, but that person may then have to present to a committee or other body of decision makers. With all the potential people standing between you and the “real decision maker,” how can you effectively move the sale forward?

In the phone calls I listen to each week, I hear many reps struggle with this exact scenario. Unfortunately, what I hear isn’t encouraging. To start with, what I find is that half the time reps don’t even know they are dealing with an influencer and so make the mistake of assuming they are the final decision maker. These closing calls often end with an objection I am sure you are familiar with: “I’ll have to run it by X.”

And you know how frustrating that is.

[Sign Up Here to learn how to “Deal More Effectively and Even Close the Influencer” during our new Webinar this Thursday, November 17th, at 3pm Eastern, Noon Pacific]

Next, on those closing calls when the rep does know they are speaking with an influencer, I find they often give up at the end of the close. They seem resigned to the fact that the prospect isn’t going to make a decision, and so they end their closing calls with something like, “So when will you speak with X?”

Not very empowering either.

The good news is that there are proven scripts and techniques you can use to both identify who you are speaking with, what their level of influence is, and even move towards closing them during your demo or presentation.

If you would like to know how to do that, then join me this Thursday, and I’ll give you all the tools and techniques you will need to both qualify the influencer during your prospecting call, and set them up to make a decision during your close.

Register Here If you deal with influencers, then this is one Webinar you and your team won’t want to miss!

How to Write a Killer Resume (Part Four)

Now that we know what to avoid when putting your resume together, let’s look at some essential elements that will ensure that your resume not only stands out, but that it creates an urgency on the part of the hiring manager to call you. As you will see, by following just a few rules you will be able to craft a compelling resume that instantly sets you up as the perfect candidate for any job you choose to apply for. Moreover, by taking just a little bit of time to customize your resume to the specific company you are applying to (it’s easy once you know how), you will make the hiring manager feel like your resume was written just for him/her. And that’s why you will be one of the first candidates they reach out to for an interview.

Number One: So, let’s start at the beginning. The first thing you want to put at the top of your resume is your complete contact information. This consists of four things:

• Your full name
• Your mailing address
• Your phone number
• Your email address

While this information may seem like a no-brainer, you will once again be surprised by how many people leave out either their phone number or email address or both! Leaving out this information makes a bad impression on the hiring manager, as you can imagine. Including it at the top saves the hiring manager from searching through your resume hoping to locate it, and it also makes it easy for him/her to reach out to you.

Number Two: Keep the formatting simple. This point could easily have been under the “What to avoid when writing your resume,” but I wanted to put it here as you actually get ready to write it. In a nutshell: Keep it plain and simple. Avoid the following:

Make sure you use text only:

• No shading or lines or borders
• No graphics, logos or fields
• No templates or PDF’s
• No headers or footers or page numbers
• No underlining or special characters

The reason for this is that whenever you submit your email electronically, there is a big chance that your formatting will get improperly transmitted or delivered, and this can easily lead to instantly disqualifying you. It has been estimated that as many as 75% of all resumes never even get seen because of improper formatting!

So KEEP IT SIMPLE

On the other hand, it is O.K., to use ALL CAPS (where appropriate), and to use Bold, or Italics. Use these sparingly, though, and only to make a special point.

Number Three: Think keywords. The content of your resume – your headings, summary of experience, previous job descriptions – should reflect the specific position and job posting you are applying for. Yes, this means that you will want to take a bit of time to tailor your resume for each specific job you are applying for, but it will pay off BIG TIME. Here are a couple of examples:

Summary Section: At the top of your resume, you should include a brief (and I’m talking two or three sentences) “Summary Section” where you list the specific skills and experience you have that match up to the position/job you are applying for. While writing a summary section is often neglected by job applicants, it acts as an easy and quick way for a hiring manager to quickly scan your resume and make a judgement on whether they want to read your resume or not. This is easy (and highly effective) if you just take a few minutes to do it right.

What you do is look at each specific job description you are applying for and pick out the specific skills, duties and responsibilities the job is looking for. So if the job description is looking for “An aggressive prospector/hunter who is used to making outbound calls,” your summary section should list something like this:

I AM AN AGGRESSIVE PROSPECTOR WHO IS USED TO HUNTING FOR ACCOUNTS.

EXCELS WITH EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE AT MAKING OUTBOUND CALLS TO GENERATE BOTH APPOINTMENTS AND LEADS.

As you can see, this matches up perfectly to what the hiring manager is specifically looking for, and as a result your resume will stand out among the hundreds of others that haven’t taken the time to do this. Remember, keywords like these (“aggressive,” “hunting,” “outbound calls,” are the specific things this hiring manager is looking for, and by making it obvious in your summary section that you possess them, you are in essence saying, “I’m the perfect candidate for you.” Believe me, they will keep reading through your resume.

Previous Experience: Next, you will want to keep listing these keywords throughout your previous job experience at the companies where it is appropriate. At each position where you did outbound calling, make sure and use those same keywords. Something like:

“At Safeco International, I excelled by making an aggressive number of outbound prospecting calls. In this hunter position, I was able to secure as many as five new appointments each day.”

Once again, you will see that as you list these keywords in your previous job experience, the hiring manager will keep nodding his or her head as they think, “This is the kind of person and experience I am looking for.” You should do this with each of the previous jobs you had (again, where it is appropriate), and it’s easy if you keep a copy of the job description in front of you as you tailor your resume.

Here is an example of how to turn a boring description (the kind your competition is submitting) into something that will not only make you stand out, but will make your resume outstanding!

Boring copy:

“At Safeco, my job responsibilities involved sourcing leads through internet research to discover appropriate companies matching our profile. I was then tasked with making outbound calls to secure appointments. Once appointments were set, I then called back to present our solution via a ClearSlide presentation. In addition, I have experience with Sales Force as well as other CRM systems.”

Are you yawning yet? The hiring manager sure is! Here is how to turn this around:

“At Safeco International – a leader in the cloud computing space – I was an upper tier producer out of an inside sales team of fifteen reps. Besides independently sourcing my own, high value leads, I aggressively hunted new accounts by cold calling and setting as many as three new appointments per day. After thoroughly qualifying these prospects, I then delivered targeted closing presentations and often had the highest closing percentage in the office. Through my consultative, yet focused closing approach, I was consistently among the top three closers in the office. I am adept at most CRM systems, including Sales Force, and am a fast learner and can easily adapt to other systems. At Safeco I learned to develop and hone a comprehensive approach to sourcing, developing and closing a steady pipeline of leads and look forward to applying my skills and experience in my next position.”

Now which one of these resumes would you want to call? Don’t dismiss this as extra work. Again, it’s easy to do and it makes a HUGE difference to the person reading and evaluating your resume. It can often make the difference between discarding your resume or calling to set an interview with you.

Number Four: Sell Yourself! Your resume is your personal advertisement and yet it’s amazing how many people fail to treat it this way. Think about how an ad copy professional would write your resume if it were their job to sell you to a hiring manager. Instead of listing your previous job title as, “Account Representative,” they might write “Outstanding Account Representative who prides himself on providing detailed customer service and timely responses for a complete customer experience.” See the difference?

Be creative and concentrate on developing a compelling image of yourself. Again, your job in putting together your resume is to sell yourself to whomever is looking at it. You want to stand head and shoulders above all the other blah resumes they receive. And with a little bit of effort, you can do just that. Here are some other examples for you:

“AWARD WINNING INSIDE SALES REPRESENTATIVE WITH A HISTORY OF GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND WHAT IS EXPECTED. AGGRESSIVE OUTBOUND CALLING STAR WHO PRIDES HIMSELF ON HIS HUNTER MENTALITY AND IS COMMITTED TO NOT ONLY MEETING BUT TO EXCEEDING SALES QUOTAS.”

“INSIDE SALES PROFESSIONAL WITH A WINNER MENTALITY WHO DOES WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THE JOB DONE. A PROVEN PRODUCER WITH A CAN-DO ATTITUDE WHO IS A WELCOME ADDITION TO ANY INSIDE SALES TEAM.”

“A PROVEN PRODUCER AND FAST ADOPTER OF NEW SALES SYSTEMS AND SELLING METHODOLOGIES, I AM COMMITTED TO PUTTING IN THE TIME AND EFFORT TO SUCCEED.”

You can use these types of descriptions in either your beginning summary or at the end of your work experience section. They also make great conclusions to the end of your resume. The point is – as I’m sure you are beginning to see – to make a strong impression with the hiring manager. The time you take to rewrite your resume in the ways you are learning here, and the time you take to adapt and customize your resume to the specific positon you are applying to, will give you an undisputed advantage over your “so-called” competition.

Number Five: Extra Credit. While avoiding the mistakes in the previous section, and combining the best practices above will help you create a killer resume, if you want to put the “frosting on the cake,” so to speak, then think about adding either a testimonial or any achievement awards – or both!

Testimonials: Include any testimonials from specific jobs at the end of your experience section with that job. Keep these short, and as a bonus ask your referrer to mention that you would be welcomed back for rehire. Here is an example:

“HIGH ENERGY PRODUCER AND AGGRESSIVE PROSPECTOR. FREQUENTLY LED THE TEAM IN BOTH PRODUCTION AND ATTITUDE. WOULD DEFINITELY BE OPEN FOR REHIRE IF APPLIED HERE AGAIN. Michelle Keller, V.P. of Sales Safeco INC.”

Awards for achievement or bonuses earned: Always keep a record of any awards or bonuses you receive. These could be certificates or names on a top producer plate in the office, or any trophies, or special mentions in emails or in the company newsletter. In addition, if you won any trips or were paid bonuses, either daily or weekly, make sure and mention these as well. The best place to mention these is at the end of your resume in the “Conclusion,” or “In Summary” section. An example might be:

“FREQUENT WINNER OF THE WEEKLY CASH BONUS (AWARDED EACH FRIDAY FOR TOP PRODUCER OF THE WEEK) AT SAFECO INTERNATIONAL, I WAS ALSO AWARDED A SPOT ON THE CLOSER OF THE MONTH TROPHY THREE OUT OF TWELVE MONTHS.”

Or

“WINNER OF THE 2015 PRESIDENT’S CLUB AND RECIPIENT OF THE ‘WEEKEND AWAY’ AWARD TRIP.”

Any and all of the special awards or acknowledgements you have previously received will help you to not only stand out, but they will paint the picture of you as being someone who has not only succeeded in the past, but will likely succeed at their company as well.

Conclusion

Most hiring managers are looking for your resume to assure them that you are more than likely to be a success. Because hiring a new employee is a time consuming and costly endeavor, they are looking for candidates that will be a “low risk” hire and hopefully as close to a “sure thing” as they can find. By taking the time to customize your resume to their specific job requirements, and then by creatively and enthusiastically selling yourself to them on how the skills and experience you have match up perfectly with what they are looking for you, you will convince them of this.

And by then listing your accomplishments, testimonials and awards, they will further feel not only comfortable with you, but even anxious to grab you off the market while you’re still available.

And that’s the kind of impact you want your resume to create, isn’t it?

The Four Errors to Avoid when Putting Together Your Resume (Part Three)

How many resumes do you think an HR Director or hiring manager receives for each job posting they advertise for? Would you guess twenty? Thirty? I hate to break it to you, but if it is a sales position you had better revise your estimate way up. Try over seventy or eighty – and that is just in the first couple of days of posting the job!

Now ask yourself how hiring managers decide who to put in the “to call” pile or folder, and who to disqualify and delete. If you think that appropriate skills and experience are the most important parts of a resume, think again.

As you will see, there are many other factors that affect what qualifies a resume for a call back versus the delete button. Before we get into the best way to write and organize your resume, let us first start with the common problems you want to avoid – problems that can automatically get your resume disqualified regardless of your experience or appropriateness for the job.

Because of the volume of resumes a hiring manager receives, the first thing they tend to do is quickly review all the resumes in an attempt to separate out the bad ones from the good ones. You obviously don’t want your resume to get disqualified out in the very beginning, so here are four errors to avoid so you can keep in the running.

Error Number One: Obvious spelling errors or out of date resumes. While this may go without saying, the first thing you want to do is thoroughly spell check your resume. Even one misspelled word can flag your resume – and you as a job applicant – as not being detailed enough or well prepared enough to be taken seriously. At the very least it can move your resume to the bottom of the stack.

Your resume is your written representation of yourself, and if you submit one with obvious spelling (or grammatical) errors, it raises the red flag that you may not be organized, detailed, or careful in your job either. Obviously, this is not the impression you want to give a hiring manager.

It is easy to avoid these errors, and you begin by using your spelling and grammar check. If you are unsure of any errors, then take the time to research them on Google, and then choose the best words and tenses that you can. In addition, always have someone else read and comment on your resume before you submit it. Another pair of eyes on a document that you have labored over is crucial to uncover errors that you may not see anymore.

Error Number Two: It is important that you list the dates on your various jobs properly. Two things to be careful of here: The first is that none of your dates overlap; the second is that there is no time lapse between jobs is longer than two months.

The first is easy to do. If you worked at the xyz company from March of 2009 to July of 2013, then your next job should begin on August of 2013. Don’t make the sloppy mistake of putting down that your new job started on July of 2013. This is a red flag that gets the hiring manager to wonder how you worked at two different jobs at the same time. If you happened to begin the new job sooner, or if you worked at both jobs during the same month, then just stagger the start dates so it appears contiguous.

So the jobs should read:

ABC Company September 2013 — Present
XYZ Company March, 2009 – August, 2013

The point here is to show that after you left one job you were immediately employed (and thereby employable) by another. There are no questions here and so no red flags. You want to make your employment history clear to your potential employer.

There may be some situations where there was a three or four month gap between jobs. This isn’t bad per se, but unexplained time gaps on resumes are red flags that put suspicions and doubts into a hiring manager’s mind. What you need to do here is put in a brief description of the time lapse (and I mean brief – a sentence or two).

To explain the lapse of time make sure and choose the right way to describe it. For example, if you spent the summer with your folks at the lake house in Minnesota, don’t write: “Summer 2013: Spent three glorious months at our family’s lake house.”

Instead, write: “Summer 2013: Took a brief vacation break then resumed job search and found the right opportunity. Began ABC Company November 2013.”

If the gap is longer than three months (sometimes job searches can last for six months to a year or more), then you can phrase the gap like this (or something else just as appropriate):
“During the break between employments, I attended ongoing educational classes to better prepare for my next job opportunity. Began ABC Company February 2014”

The point here is to explain any large gaps in your employment history – you don’t want the hiring manager wondering why you were unemployed so long. Your goal is to be brief, professional and positive.

Now that you have corrected any spelling or grammatical errors, and have explained or accounted for any time gaps between employment longer than two months, it is time to turn your attention around to the length not only of your resume, but, most importantly, to the length of time of employment at each company.

Error Number Three: Listing a history of jobs lasting two years or less. I can’t tell you how many resumes I have seen where a job applicant has not been at a single job (or perhaps only one) longer than two years. When you list five or six jobs that you stayed at for 24 months or shorter, it screams to the hiring manager that they will have you for less than two years at their company as well. And this means that all the time, energy and money they will invest in you will be wasted because you will leave them in under 24 months. Even if you have good reasons for leaving your jobs every two years, it will look to the hiring manager that you are a short term player with a history of quitting often.

There are several things you can do if this represents your job history. The first is prominently display and describe the job that you were at the longest. For example, if you were at one company for five or six years, then make sure and describe how you took on more responsibility, talk about the production and awards you earned, and talk about the skills you used that are appropriate to the new job you are applying for.

In addition, if any company you worked for was taken over by a new company or renamed, then don’t list this as a new company! Instead, mention it in your job description, as well as any other job title you took. Many people make the mistake of listing a new company as if it helps their experience, but it doesn’t. What helps you is to show a potential employer that you are a long term player who is loyal.

If you do have a string of jobs that you stayed at for under two years, you have a couple of options. The first and best thing to do is to explain why you left each company. Here again, your answer needs to be brief and professional. “Found a better opportunity” is NOT the right reason regardless of whether it is true or not. Putting that down just tells the hiring manager that you are always on the lookout for something better, and when something comes up for you while working at their company, you will probably just leave there, too.

Much better reasons include things like, “Company reorganized and position was eliminated,” or “Company slow down resulted in layoffs”. These are both good, professional reasons that hiring managers can identify with. Others (if true, of course) can include things like: “Company relocated out of state,” or “Company was acquired by another firm and positon eliminated.” List other reasons like these if the company you worked for had to let you go (and it was not your fault).

If you did leave the company for a better opportunity, then you can state that, but always explain any increased job responsibilities or positions: “Was recruited into a team lead role,” or “Was hired by ABC Company to head up new lead generation division.” The point here is to show increased job responsibilities or positions which required better skill sets or offered job growth. Opportunities like this that show career advancement make you seem more desirable to the hiring manager.

Error Number Four: Making your resume too long. Many job seekers think that more is better. That is not the case with your resume. Similar to the above example of not listing too many short term job stays, what you want to strive for with your next resume is to keep it under two pages total. Even one page is preferable, if possible. The way you will do this is to limit the number of jobs – and years – you have been working.

I hate to tell you this, but listing every job you have had since you got out of High School is not what the hiring manager is looking for. In fact, by listing page after page all the jobs you have had, you will once again be raising a red flag that tells them that you tend to move around a lot. Furthermore, the only thing a hiring manager is looking for is current, similar experience. So listing many different types of jobs and companies – especially if the job responsibilities were different – is not going to help your cause.

Instead, what you want to do is list the most recent – and the most relevant jobs you can – that line up with what your prospective employer is looking for. If you have a few jobs that don’t relate specifically to the skills or responsibilities that are asked for, then find a way to connect them. For example, if you were a customer service rep who is now applying for a job in sales, then you should stress how many phone calls you took, how much your success relied on working with and solving problems with customers, and even how you uncovered up-sell opportunities. These are transferrable skills and will mean a lot to the hiring manager.

Next, as a rule of thumb, you want to keep your job history to the last ten years. Again, no one cares how long you have been working – whether it has been eight years or twenty eight. What they care about is how relevant your job history is to what they need you to do. As such, keeping your list of jobs – and so the length of your resume – short and to the point is what is going to make you more attractive to the hiring manager. If, while on the phone or during the interview, the hiring manager wants to know more about your job history, then you can tell them. But for moving your resume to the top of the list, don’t submit a four page resume thinking that you are going to wow them with your long and extended job history. The fact is, this will work against you.

The bottom line with the length of your resume, is you want to make it easy for a hiring manager to get through it. You don’t want them to have to navigate three or four pages trying to discern which jobs are relevant and which aren’t. The hiring manager doesn’t need to know your first job was at McDonalds. What they want to know is how your current experience lines up with that they are looking for now.

To summarize the list of the four errors to avoid: The first thing you want to do is make sure your resume is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Your resume represents you – make sure it does this well. Second, you want your dates of employment to match up. In addition, if there are any lapses of employment longer than three or four months, be sure to explain these in a professional way. Third, make sure you don’t list job after job with a length of time of two years or less. Remember, whatever you put down in terms of how long your average length of employment is, that is how long the hiring manager will think you will stay with them as well.
And finally, number four is to keep your resume short. One page is ideal, but one and half will do if absolutely necessary.

Now that you know what you should avoid, in our next installment of this series, I will tell you what you should do to write a solid resume that will put you on the top of the list of who to call back for an interview. What you will discover is that it is easier than you think – if you know what to do!

How to Write a Simple yet Powerful Cover Letter (Part Two)

Did you know that over 85% of resumes received by hiring managers arrive without a cover letter?

While that may not mean much to you, it means a lot to the people reviewing and vetting resumes for the job you are applying for. Resumes that are sent in without someone taking the time to write a cover letter appear to the hiring manager to be submitted almost blindly. It is as if the job applicant has sent their resume in to lots of jobs – shotgun approach – hoping someone might call them back. It shows a lack of preparation and even implies a lack of interest in whether the person gets the job or not.

This is NOT the kind of first impression you want to give a hiring manager.

On the other hand, those resumes that do arrive with a cover letter get extra attention and are often the first resumes an HR person reviews. A cover letter tells the hiring manager that you care enough about the job you are applying for that it is important for you to stand above the competition. When you take the time to write a cover letter, it also shows initiative and evidences your ability and willingness to go that extra mile. It signals that you are someone who is attentive to detail and that you are willing to do what others applicants (and workers) are not willing to do.

In essence, it shows that you are organized, capable, and professional. A well written cover letter tells the hiring manager that you are serious about getting the job, and it gives you the best chance (along with a relevant resume) of landing an interview and ultimately the job you really want.

While a cover letter is a huge benefit for job applicants, there are both things to avoid and some definite best practices you can use to insure your cover letter is heads and tails above anybody else’s.

How to Address your Cover Letter:

Let’s start first with what to avoid. The most obvious thing you want to avoid is writing a generic cover letter that is unspecific to the job you are applying to. Doing so erases any benefit of putting one together to begin with. The first thing you want to avoid is addressing your letter to the generic: “To Whom it May Concern.” This, once again, just lumps you into the generic cover letter pile, and doesn’t differentiate you from the other applicants.

To avoid this, try to find out the hiring manager’s name or job title, and direct the cover letter to him/her. If this is not possible, then the following addresses are best:

1) Address your cover letter to the department head you are applying to. So if it is sales, use: “Dear Hiring Sales Manager,” or “Dear Hiring Marketing Director,” or “Dear HR Director.”
2) If you don’t know the department, then a good address is: “Dear Hiring Manager,” or “Dear Human Resources Director.”
3) If you do know the name of the hiring manager, then always use their name as such: “Dear Mr. Brooks,” or “Dear Ms. Collins.”

This is the kind of detail that takes just a minute or two to customize, but it makes a huge first impression on the hiring manager. Again, it evidences that you care enough – and are resourceful enough – to take the time to go beyond what the majority of job seekers are not willing to do. The inference is that you will also be more organized and detail oriented on the job as well. And this is the kind of person hiring personnel are looking for.

Next, the content of the cover letter is where you will make or break a good impression. Now, don’t be intimidated here. The hiring manager is not looking for a college essay, nor are they looking for a sample of your writing skills. What they do want, however – and what you want to give them – is why you are uniquely qualified for this particular job. In other words, they are looking for relevant experience that matches up specifically to the position you are applying for.

Let me say that again because this is key: What the hiring manager is looking for is relevant experience of yours that directly relates to the specific job skills and duties they are hiring for.

And the good news is there are some easy, sure fire, best practices you can follow that will immediately give them what they are looking for. Here is how to go about it:

Number One: Carefully review each employer’s ad description and pick out specific words and phrases that describe the skills and day to day activities they are advertising for. An example would be the phrase:

“Relevant experience in prospecting by phone, candidates should be prepared to make between 50 to 75 cold calls per day. In addition, the ideal candidate should also have experience in contacting existing or non-active accounts to expand and grow client base.”

Once you see something like this, it is telling you exactly how to write your cover letter. What you need to do next is match up any (or as many as possible) of your past positions where you performed similar duties. And then include a brief description of that in your cover letter. For example:

“The skills and duties which you are seeking – specifically prospecting by phone and calling into non-active accounts – are exactly the kind of work I did at Sherman Rentals and ABC Financial. I am highly adept at cold calling and regularly average 68 prospecting calls per day.

“In addition, I was also responsible for calling into existing accounts and even won awards for my ability to reactivate and up sell existing customers.”

Now how easy was that? By taking just a few minutes to highlight specific words and phrases and repeat them in your cover letter, you will be doing what 98% of your competition simply won’t take the time to do. Your effort will get noticed and it will move your resume to the top of the stack.

By the way, if you didn’t win any awards, then don’t make it up! Instead, talk about the achievements you did accomplish and the results that you did get. Your goal here, again, is to match up your relevant experience that directly relates to the specific job skills and duties they are advertising for. Remember, the key is to use their exact words and phrases when describing your experience in your cover letter.

Taking this simple step is 75% of writing a powerful cover letter. The other part is to show a sincere interest in their company and job opportunity, and to keep it brief. Here is a complete, best practice cover letter that you can use as a template:

Dear Sales Hiring Manager,

My name is Mike Brooks, and I was very excited to find your job listing on Monster.com. I have always been interested in the online advertising industry (whatever industry their company is in), and feel that I have the relevant experience you are looking for that would enable me to be highly successfully with your company.

The skills and duties which you are seeking – specifically prospecting by phone and calling into non-active accounts – are exactly the kind of work I did at Sherman Rentals and ABC Financial. I am highly adept at cold calling and regularly average 68 prospecting calls per day.

In addition, I was also responsible for calling into existing accounts and even won awards for my ability to reactivate and up sell existing customers.

I would enjoy the opportunity to learn more about the position of account manager you are advertising for, and look forward to exploring how my career experience can be an asset to your company.

I have attached my resume for your review and would be happy to discuss my experience or any questions you may have.

The best way to reach me is by my cell phone: (515) 555-1234. Alternatively, you can email me here: Mike@youremailaddress.com

I hope my experience meets what you are searching for, and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Mike Brooks

Use this template for any sales job you are applying for. (Or any other kind of position as well.) Simply change the name of the company and type of job where appropriate and match up your skills and duties as discussed previously.

By taking just a few minutes to customize a carefully worded cover litter like this, you will instantly become one of – if not the very first – candidate that gets a call back. You will be very much in demand and soon you will have your pick of which opportunities to pursue. And having many companies who are interested in hiring you gives you the leverage to ask for and get things like a higher salary, a better commission structure and even a possible hiring bonus. But we’ll cover these in a little while.

Once you have perfected your cover letter, the next step to landing the job of your dreams is to make sure your resume matches up with what a potential company is looking for. You also want to make sure not to make the common errors so prevalent with most resumes that are submitted – errors that often get resumes rejected right away. All of these points will be covered in next week’s Ezine, so make sure and be on the lookout for it next week.

In the meantime, try practicing a few cover letters and see for yourself how easy it is!

Better Selling in Under 5 Minutes: “How to Handle the ‘I need to speak to someone’ stall.”

Welcome to our new video series: “Better Selling in Under 5 Minutes.”  We’re launching this series today to help inside sales reps and teams handle selling situations more effectively.  Today’s topic is, “How to Handle the ‘I need to speak to someone’ stall.”  If you like the video, please pass it on to other sales reps who can benefit from it.

Please click on the YouTube link to watch.

https://youtu.be/ZWtZyf_3bl0

All the best and happy selling!

Mr. Inside Sales

 

How to Apply For and Get a Better Paying Job (Part One)

According to a PNC survey, almost two-thirds of millionaires say their wealth is largely attributable to their jobs. Furthermore, these six figure earners are much better at applying for and landing better paying jobs and are far more inclined to negotiate better salaries and over all commission plans than their peers (says a study by PayScale.com). In contrast, nearly 60% of their competition (all U.S. workers, in fact) simply settle for the first offer they get.

So what are their secrets? How do these top earners go about applying for, interviewing at and landing these better jobs? The good news is that, as always, success leaves clues, and by simply following some of their tried and true strategies, you, too, can begin applying for and landing not only better paying jobs, but also better positions at those jobs.

Now don’t be worried if you’re not a six figure earner – yet. By following the strategies and techniques below, you can begin making yourself more valuable at your current job, and more marketable to your next employer as well. In fact, if you are in the job market right now, using these proven tips will move your resume to the top of the list and get you an interview above everyone else who is applying.

How can I be so sure of this? Because my experience in hiring tells me so. Over the last 30 years, I have reviewed thousands of resumes of potential inside sales reps, admin support people, marketing people, etc. And as a consultant, I’ve worked with my client’s hiring managers, recruiters, HR Directors, V.P.’s of sales, sales managers, etc., helping them vet and interview thousands of more candidates. I can look at a resume for one minute and tell you whether a company would be interested in speaking with you or not.

And after all that experience, sadly, I can tell you now that we (myself, hiring managers, etc.) throw away about 95% of all resumes received for an inside sales position. Ninety five percent! That’s a horrendous statistic, and it just shows how unprepared (or uninterested) most sales reps are about applying for and getting a new job. It tells me that the majority of job seekers carelessly put together their resume, and then rapid fire it out to as many potential jobs as are advertising. It’s the shotgun approach to landing a job. And it does not work.

Lucky for you that with just a little bit of time and effort ahead of time, you can create a cover letter and resume that will make hiring managers anxious to call and meet with you. By just putting in a little bit of work before you attach or upload your resume to a job posting, you can all but be assured that you’ll be sitting in front of the hiring manager for the job you’d really like to get.

Moreover, if you follow some of the other tips you’ll read in this Special Report, you’ll also be able to negotiate things like a signing bonus, a performance bonus, higher salary and/or commission schedule. And, with just a little bit of planning, you can even begin applying to and landing positions in management. And all of this will mean more money, more prestige, and more opportunity in your future.

In the following Special Report, I will walk you through, step by step, the ways that you can:

1) Write a cover letter that will separate you from 90% of the resumes a company gets.
2) Easily develop a resume that will put you into the top 1% of what a company is looking for – and ensure that you get interviewed first.
3) How to make yourself more valuable to your current company, as well as future employers as well.
4) How to ask for and get higher positions in management and so make more money.
5) How to get the largest starting pay – including asking for and getting a signing bonus.
6) How to negotiate for salary and bonus reviews which will keep your earnings going even higher.

You can apply for and get a better paying job, but you must know how to do it first. In next week’s Ezine, I will teach you the secrets of crafting a simple, yet powerful, cover letter that will immediately separate you from the hundreds of other resumes a hiring manager receives each week.

This tip alone will move you, and your resume, above the competition applying for the job you want!

How to Turn Cold Leads into Warm Leads

Staring at a list of cold names you have to call can be discouraging. Calling those names and leaving voice mails that never get returned is also discouraging. And finally reaching someone only to be quickly blown off can be downright heart breaking! Don’t you wish there was a way to turn cold names into warm leads?

There is!

It’s called a “touch point plan,” and it’s very effective if done right. A touch point plan is simply a combination of carefully scripted voice messages and emails used in combination over a period of time. How many messages and over what period of time is variable, and I’ve seen some studies recommend as many as six phone calls and five emails over a month’s time.

I’ve been successfully using a bit less – five to seven total messages – but I supplement this strategy by making calls in between trying to “catch” the prospect picking up their phone. If they don’t answer, I don’t leave a voice mail.

What type of a touch point plan you decide to develop (how many calls and emails) can depend on many factors such as whether it’s a business to business call – and what your target prospect’s title is – or whether it’s a business to consumer call and what hours you’re calling. You’ll find what your sweet spot is if you just experiment a bit.

The bottom line, though, is that the more times you reach out to a prospect, the more likely it is they will become familiar with you and your company. Many prospects will respect your professional and persistent attempts to reach them. Because of this, when you finally do reach a prospect you’ll have built some recognition and credibility, and your prospect will be more motivated to give you a bit of their time.

This is how you turn a cold lead into a warm lead.

Below I’ve listed a sample touch point plan that involves two voice messages and three emails. I first make about a week of calls without leaving a voice mail (assuming I don’t reach the prospect), and then I spread the following touch point plan out over two weeks.

If I haven’t gotten a response or reached anyone after the touch point plan, I then spend the fourth week calling again without leaving a message. I’ve had A LOT of success with this plan and at the end of the four week process, I’ve generally reached those prospects who are reachable.

Here is a sample touch point plan, with generic wording, that you can customize to fit your company and product or service:

Voice Mail #1:

Hi _________, this is (Your Full Name) with (Your Company).

_________, I’m calling about (Your brief value prop – example: “the effectiveness of your online marketing”).

I wanted to briefly introduce you to a way to save as much as 25% over what you may be spending now, and still maintain or even increase the effectiveness of your results.

If you would give me a quick call back at: (Your Number) we can set a time to speak.

Once again the name is (Your Full Name), with (Your Company Name) and the number is (Your Number Slowly).

I’ll follow this up with an email and another call to you if I don’t hear back. Have a good day.

Email #1 (To be sent right after you leave your first voice mail):

Subject Line: (First Name), I just left you a vm

Body of email:

{first name},

This is (Your Full Name) with (Your Company), sorry I missed you.

I understand that you’re in charge of your online marketing and I wanted to set up a time to briefly speak with you later this week. (If you are not in charge of the advertising, please forward this to the person who is).

We have a new way of maximizing your online advertising spend that reduces what your current budget, yet it also reaches more of the customers that fit your ideal demographic. (Obviously, insert your value prop here). Our model is so effective that you can literally save up to 25% over what you’re spending now!

I’d like to schedule a brief conversation to explain how this would work with your company, and I guarantee you’ll at least come away with a whole new way of looking at your online marketing.

If you would reach back out to me with a couple of days/times that might work that would be great.

If I don’t hear back, I’ll reach out to you again next week.

Looking forward to connecting with you.

(Your Name and Company Signature)

Voice Mail #2: (Three to four days later)

Hi _________, this is (Your Full Name) once again with (Your Company). My number is (Leave your number slowly).

_________ you probably received a voice mail from me already, and I also sent you an email along with a brief description of how we save companies up to 25% on their online advertising, while in many cases increasing their results. (Your value prop goes here)

I’d like to spend a few minutes on the phone with you next week, and I guarantee that it will be worth your time.

If you would give me a quick call back to let me know a day and time that would work for you that would be appreciated. My direct phone number again is: (Your Phone Number).

I’ll follow up again with you if I don’t hear back. Have a great day.

Email #2: (Send this email one to two days after your second voice mail)
Attachment: (Include an online brochure of your company and services)

Subject Line: (First Name), second attempt to reach you

{first name},

This is (Your Full Name) with (Your Company Name) once again.

I hope you’ve received my messages, and today I wanted to include some information on our company and a brief description of what we do.

As I mentioned earlier, we help companies reduce their spend on their online advertising by as much as 25% while maintaining or even increasing their results. (Your value prop here).

I’m sure that when you compare what we do to what you’re doing now, you’ll want to know more.

I’d simply like a few minutes to see if what we do would be a good fit for you. Once we speak, I guarantee you’ll come away with some good ideas, regardless of what you’re doing now…

I’ll give you a call in a few days after you’ve digested the attached information.

Or, you can reach back out to me to let me know your interest level.

(Your Name and Company Signature)

Voice Mail #3: (Final V/M – send three to four days after 2nd email)

Hi _________, this is (Your Full Name) with (Your Company) again.

I’m sorry we haven’t been able to connect yet. As you may know, we offer a unique way of increasing the effectiveness of your online marketing, while reducing what you’re currently spending by as much as 25%. (Your value prop here)

You may be involved in another initiative right now, so I don’t want to bother you if you’re busy or if you’re not interested.

When you get this message, could you either call back and leave me a voice mail or just respond to one of the emails I’ve sent you?

Just let me know what the next appropriate step would be for us to connect.

You can reach me by calling (Your Number Slowly), or you can email me at: (Your Email Address)

I really appreciate you taking the time to get back with me.

Thanks and have a great day…

Once you’ve customized and tested the voice mails and emails in this touch point plan, you’ll know whether you need to add another one or two messages. Just test a variation of plans and see what the best results are for you. And don’t forget to add in calls the week before and after the plan as well!

The most important part of a successful touch point plan is to consistently use one. Most sales reps fail to reach back out to prospects (both inbound and outbound leads), and many just make one attempt and then move on. The way to double or even triple your sales and income is to be detail oriented and to persevere until you reach your prospects.

Adopting the approach above will separate you from 90% of the other sales reps in your industry and catapult your effectiveness.