B2B sales can be a rewarding career for those who enjoy working with people, building relationships, and of course, selling a product or service. Yet, if you’ve ever looked for a sales job, you know how difficult it can be to land a good position with a reputable organization.
Today, we make your life a little easier. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide to getting the B2B sales job of your dreams.
Land a B2B sales job in no time with these six questions!
Step 1: Identify Your Target
Not all B2B sales opportunities are created equally; as important as it is for potential employers to like you and your qualifications, it’s equally important for you to like their business and the work you could potentially be doing for them.
To start your job search, put together an outline of your ideal position. Do you prefer inside sales? Making cold calls? Working with a team? Make a mental list of deal breakers to guide you through the application process.
Once you have identified what type of sales job you’re looking for, it’s time to find open positions. There are a few ways to do this. Here’s what we suggest:
Work with a recruiter. A recruiting agency or staffing firm can save you valuable time and energy. Rather than weeding through hundreds of job descriptions on your own, a recruiter will bring the best positions to you. Third-party recruiters are often hired by companies — meaning many offer their services for free.
Search online job boards. Use online job boards to search and apply for open positions matching the outline you put together. Try searching different titles and remember to check these sites daily—you’ll have the most luck if you’re among the first to apply for new positions. Websites we like include: Glassdoor, Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, and LinkedIn.
Search companies rather than positions. Have specific companies you’d like to work for? Try searching their website directly for open positions. Don’t panic if you don’t see anything. You should still reach out with a copy of your resume, a brief description of your qualifications, and a few sentences about why you want to work for the particular company. This shows that you can take initiative and already appreciate the work the company does—making it likely that they’ll reach out, should a fitting position open up.
Leverage your personal network. You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: It’s all about who you know. Craft a short message letting your personal network know that you’re looking for a job. Post it on your social media profiles. You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to help!
Step 2: Create Your Story
If you’re firing off hundreds of resumes without scoring a single interview, take a step back and evaluate the applications you’ve sent. Too many times, applicants expect their experience and qualifications to be enough—yet, employers want more personal information. What are your strengths? What’s your personality like? What kind of environment do you thrive in? What is your story?
Infuse every aspect of your application with personality and professionalism. Always include your resume, a cover letter, a brief note or introduction, links to any past projects or work samples, and any other required materials. Each of these items should be short and to the point. According to one study, recruiters look at a resume for an average of six seconds before tossing it (source). You want to communicate the most important parts of your story without boring, confusing, or annoying the reader.
Another word of advice: don’t use your cover letter to repeat your resume. Use it as an opportunity to explain why you’re a good fit for the job. Discuss your best qualities, why you want to work for the company, and what you’ll bring to the table that other applicants won’t.
Comb through any and all documents for typos and grammars. This seems like a no-brainer but do it. Seriously. It also doesn’t hurt to get a second set of eyes on your application. Send your resume and cover letter to your friends, your parents, your next door neighbor, your ex-girlfriend, anyone really. Preferably, send it to someone with experience in the field and accept all feedback. As you revise, cut back, and rearrange, you’ll end up with the best possible version.
Step 3: Secure Back Up
When you start the process of searching for a job, reach out to previous employers, teachers, or mentors with whom you have a good relationship. Let them know you’re looking for a new job and ask if they’re willing to be a reference.
Provide all potential references with a general description of the jobs you’re applying for and send them a few qualities or skills you’d like them to highlight. For example, if a job description stresses the importance of people skills, ask your references to attest to your people skills on the phone with potential employers. This way, your references won’t be caught off guard.
You can also ask your references to provide you with a letter of recommendation. While most employers will just call your references directly, we recommend sending a letter of recommendation with your initial application. This small addition could be the difference between getting an interview or not. Remember, always send a thank you note to your references. It’s professional, shows your appreciation, and helps preserve that valuable relationship.
Step 4: Prepare
Your work isn’t done once you’ve secured an interview. In fact, interview preparation is arguably the most important part of the application process. In the days leading up to your interview, take the time thoroughly research the following:
The company. Go to the company’s website and familiarize yourself with their history, recent awards, and most importantly, their mission. Check out what they’ve been in the news for recently, who their competitors are, and what their general values are. Be prepared to speak about these topics during your interview.
The product. Do your best to learn everything you can about the company’s product or services. Read online reviews, sign up for a free trial, and ask around. You want to know their product well enough that you can sell it back to them.
The position. Familiarize yourself with the job description and develop a thorough understanding of the qualities a candidate needs to succeed in the role. Then, write down or think of scenarios in which you’ve already demonstrated each of these qualities.
The questions. Research commonly asked questions and prepare your answers ahead of time. Familiarize yourself with common sales terms, techniques, and best practices.
The more prep-work you do, the less nervous you’ll be.
Step 5: Sell Yourself
The day of your interview, be sure to dress professionally, show up 15 minutes early, and bring a notebook and something to write with. Confidence is key; remember to make eye contact, speak clearly, and take deep breaths. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t panic. Take a second to compose yourself, ask follow-up questions if necessary, and craft a thoughtful response.
Above all, try to relax and have fun with it—instead of stressing about your answers, try to really connect with the interviewers and make a lasting impression.
Step 6: Ask Questions
Remember, an interview is about you getting a feel for the company just as much as it is about them getting to know you. A few thoughtful questions show that you’re engaged, listening, and care about the position. While questions will likely come to you naturally, you should also prepare several questions to fall back on. A few examples include:
- What is the most difficult part of this position?
- What do I have to do to be successful here?
- Is there room for growth with this position?
- Is there anything that stands out to you as something I need to work on?
Take note of the answers and write things down to show you’re paying attention and truly care about their response. At the end of the interview, be sure to collect the business cards of everyone you met with.
Step 7: Follow Up
After your interview, send a brief follow-up email or handwritten note to everyone you met with. Thank them for their time and provide one or two sentences referencing topics discussed within the interview. Do your best to seem genuine—there’s nothing worse than receiving a thank you note that reads like it could have been copied and pasted to any company, for any position.