In today's competitive job market, it is imperative that you stand out from other candidates, your CV needs to be professional, interesting and above all else it should illustrate how you can add value to a future employer. Don't forget your CV is your business case for a company to hire you.
Top Tips for a Sales CV:
- Provide details of your sales performance and targets
- Where account management is concerned, employers like to see evidence of growing an account from “X” to “Y” so provide details of account wins and the value of your account management
- List any Awards and Company League Table statistics.
- Ensure all information is factual and do not expand or exaggerate (you will be asked about your figures at interview, so make sure you can back these up)
- Present it in a clear professional format, ideally two pages long
- Use a consistent font type and size throughout
- Keep it black and white (you want to stand out from the other candidates but in the right way)
- Use positive words (e.g: Developed, Negotiated, Increased, Won, Growth, Promoted etc)
- Ensure it is not too generic and tailor it to the role you are applying for
- Triple check spelling and grammar before sending
- Do you have a photo on your CV – ask yourself does this add any value?
As you would research clients prior to a sales meeting, do the same for a job interview - research the role, the company and the interviewers. Anticipate any tough questions and look to turn weaknesses into strengths. Draw up a list of your strengths, then next to each one write down an example of when you’ve used that strength and what the positive outcome was. This will help to clarify what your strengths are and means you will have scenarios ready to discuss in the interview.
Ensure your first impression is a professional one and that you are smartly dressed in business attire. In a sales pitch clients normally decide if they will buy from you within the first 10 seconds, and the same strategy applies when attending a job interview. Late attendance is never excusable so ensure that you arrive 10-15 minutes before your interview time.
Ask questions throughout the interview, it’s a mutual exchange of information and not a one-sided conversation. Clarify questions if necessary and be sure you answer the question the interviewer actually asks.
Listen - this is probably the most important ability of all. By concentrating not only on the interviewer’s words, but also on the tone of voice and body language, you will be able to pick up on the interviewer’s style. Once you understand their key drivers, adjust your style accordingly and it will be easier to build rapport.
Expand on the information provided in your CV, give details of your performance on sales targets against actual sales, even if it is below target interviewers like honesty so state all the facts. Give specific examples of account wins and what increase in returns resulted from these wins. Let them know what makes you stand out from other sales people.
At all times be aware of your body language and communication and make sure it positively reinforces what you are saying, make regular eye contact with the interviewer(s).
At final interview stage you may be asked to give a presentation, which can often be the make or break in whether you are successful or not. It is imperative, therefore, that you use consistency throughout the slides and presentation. Keep the content simple but effective and ensure you don’t end up reading the presentation out loud. They will be concentrating on you more than what you are saying. Most importantly know your audience and tailor the presentation accordingly. Don’t use silly images or colours and close the presentation with a positive statement which they will remember, known as a “Take Home Message”. Lastly, ensure you practice, know your slides and speak with confidence, making eye contact with all those present.
If you are unfamiliar with Powerpoint or other presentation formats, speak to your recruitment consultant as they will be able to guide you. Send the finished version to your consultant before the presentation so they can advise on any adjustments they feel will help.
Closing the Interview
After the interview, most people are left wondering what the interviewers thought of them. However, you can leave an interview with some peace of mind, if you feel the interview has gone well and you would like to proceed to the next stage let them know that, be proactive and ask the following questions:
“Do you have any reservations about my suitability for this role?”
“How do I compare to other candidates you’ve interviewed?”
There are normally just two reasons why a candidate is unsuccessful. Firstly, the interviewer feels they won’t fit into the current team and secondly, that they don’t have the right skills or experience. You have a right to know so don’t be afraid to ask, these are great closing questions because it opens the door for the interviewer to be honest with you about their opinion. If concerns do exist, this is a great opportunity to overcome them face-to-face, you then have one final chance to sell your strengths and end the interview on positive note. Close the interview by demonstrating the same skills you use when closing a business meeting.
A few things to remember during the closing process:
- Don’t be discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer will probably want to communicate with colleagues first, or interview other applicants, before making a decision.
- Make sure you answer the following two questions: "why are you interested in the company?" and "what can you offer?"
- Express thanks for the interviewer’s time and consideration.
Immediate follow-up is crucial. When you leave the interview, write down the positives and any concerns that you have, then call your recruiter and discuss it with them.
NB: You should consider writing the interviewer a "thank you" email, via the recruiter. This will show your appreciation and continued interest in the company and position. Do not contact the interviewer(s) directly unless advised to.
To comment or discuss this article in further detail please contact Craig Henson on