I once heard a wise Sales Vice-president say that most salespeople are either just starting a new job or thinking about their next one. That may or may not be true however; if you are in sales you can be absolutely certain that sooner or later you will be looking for a new job. In fact the vast majority of sales professionals are changing companies every 24 to 36 months.
Sales is brutal. Companies are demanding more of their sales professionals and have less patience for slips in performance. If you are having a tough month or quarter, it will be harder than ever before to recover and keep your job. Add to this reorganizations, reconfigurations, commission policy adjustments, and management changes (recent studies indicate that the average tenure for sales management and leadership positions is only 18 months), and you have a recipe for sales turnover unlike anything we have ever experienced before. Some companies are facing turnover in excess of 100 per cent annually. In today’s business environment, if you are a sales professional, you can be virtually certain that sometime in the next few years you will be looking for a job.
So given this information what is your best move now? Here are some tips:
Accept the fact that you will someday be looking for a job. Don’t hide from it. This is truly the most important thing you can do. Once you accept that you will be changing jobs at some point in the future you will more apt to prepare yourself in advance for that eventuality.
Keep your résumé up to date at all times. This is surprisingly easy. Of course you must first create a résumé. But once you have it on file schedule 15-20 minutes each month to review it, add any new accomplishments, trainings etc… Sadly, most people don’t think about their résumé until they really need it and that is the worst time to develop a résumé.
Get discovered. Here is the great news: there are not enough talented salespeople to fill the millions of sales jobs available across the globe. Recent surveys have indicated that sales is the most in demand profession worldwide and companies are sparing no expense to find you. The trick is, instead of looking for your next job, to get your next job looking for you. Here is what you do:
• Post your résumé on job boards and keep it updated. Most job boards will allow you to hide your personal data which will keep your current employer from spying on you. What is important to understand is that Executive and Corporate Sales recruiters use résumé searches as their primary method for finding candidates.
• When an executive recruiter calls, call back. I’ve always been appalled at salespeople who ignore the voice mail messages and calls from executive recruiters. It doesn’t cost anything to listen to what they have to say and in the process you have an opportunity to connect with someone who may save your ass in the future when you find yourself on the street. Make sure to keep a file or database of every recruiter who calls, send them updated résumés, and whenever possible help them with candidates who fit their needs. Making a friend of an executive recruiter is one of the best moves you can make.
• Stay in touch. Obviously if you are in sales you know other salespeople. With turnover levels as they are many of the salespeople you know have probably changed jobs several times. Most of the salespeople you work with today won’t be at your company next year. However, most will still be in sales – just somewhere else. Stay in touch with the sales professionals you know. Keep up with their names and phone numbers, send them a holiday card, and call them from time to time. Why? Companies are always looking for salespeople and do you know who they ask first? Their current salespeople. You never know when your name might come up.
About the Author:
Jeb Blount is CEO of The Sales Leadership Group, author of Power Principles and the creator of the popular internet sales community, SalesGravy.com. Considered one of the leading experts in sales and sales leadership , Jeb holds a core philosophy that in sales and life there are a handful of basics, which if focused on intently, will drive peak performance and achievement.