One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA. Oh, sure... we're not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is...
If you work in sales at the manager level or above, you should be prepared to hear the question from a hiring manager on a job interview; he wants to know what your 30-, 60- and 90-day plans are to build a new sales territory, halt a customer exodus or improve revenue. Be ready to deliver your plan and back it with data, said Kathleen Steffey, CEO and founder of Naviga Services, a Tampa, Fla., recruiting and staffing agency that specializes in marketing and sales roles.
“We highly recommend it for candidates, especially in the final stages of the interview,” she said. “It shows them, ‘I’ve thought about this.’ ” In any field where revenue is at stake, if the hiring team sees someone who’s prepared and appears ready to enhance revenue right away, they’ll be more likely to offer that person the job.
Dan, a medical-supplies salesman from the Midwest and a SalesLadder member who asked that his full name not be used, used the tactic to his advantage on a recent job interview for a diagnostic-services company. He said the business plan he put together for his interview showed the hiring manager that he had done his homework and was familiar with the company, its products and the market.
“I did the back research and found out what types of jobs I’ll be going on,” Dan said. “They were mainly concerned about ‘what you can do for me’ in terms of revenue.”
Dan provided the potential employer with a detailed account of a sales territory, citing specific numbers of how many doctors and medical groups are in an area; he said his planning not only impressed the hiring manager, but it also prepared him to do the job.
In sales, it takes time to develop contacts and strengthen relationships, so business plans should reflect that maturation as it develops over periods of 30, 60 and 90 days. Dan said his plan was realistic and obtainable – major factors in its effectiveness – “targeting smaller accounts initially and larger ones in the 60- and 90-day period.”
The plan doesn’t need to be a 100-page briefing on every factor facing the company’s sales strategy and every data point down to the penny. It can be a simple PowerPoint presentation attached to an e-mail. Nevertheless, you must include a summary that proves you’re capable of making money for the company.
Such presentations are a platform to show the hiring manager how seriously you’re taking the opportunity, Steffey said.
While you can find business-plan templates online, there’s no auto-fill application that allows you to demonstrate your prowess with the click of a button.
Naviga Services’ Steffey stresses that these reports need to be as unique and informative as possible − considering trends and market conditions. The more it speaks to the hiring manager’s needs, the more effective it is, she said.
“It can’t be general. It has to be crafted for the particular employer,” she said. “If it’s general, it’s garbage.”
“That’s a turnoff when they see something generic,” Dan agreed. “If it matches up with their values, that’s what you have to base the business plan around.”