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Need Advice BADLY!!

Listen up! I've had ONE "sales" job in my life, working at LensCrafters on the floor. That AIN'T exactly the kind of high-powered sales most of you guys deal with, I'm sure.

Anyway, recently I took a plunge and applied for a sales job [as a recruiter for an excellent online university]. It pays about $40,000 (salary).

I have never done that kind of work before in my life. The job is that of an admissions advisor. They give you a list of folks who've already inquired about the school, and you go down the list contacting them to get them enrolled.

I passed two phone interviews [I have NO idea how!!!], and I'm going to have what I think is a final interview next week. I have absolutely NO idea of the sales process [NONE!], in terms of the psychology, etc. I saw some very nice stuff at this website concerning the art of listening, and that was very helpful.

But if anyone has any useful tips that I could use, I'd truly appreciate it. I've got to convince this guy's manager now, or that's what it looks like anyway.

I suppose that the first thing I should do is examine my own personality [something I really DO NOT want to do!] Anyway, "times is tough," as they say, and if I can find some tips here that will carry me through, then my wife MIGHT let me stay around for yet another 10 years!!

I am currently employed, but the dough's a little low. Oil and everything else is going up, as we all know. Gotta make a move! Help! - by RonChism
I just landed my first sales job after a long and onerous process. I think that there are several elements that you need to communicate to the hiring manager. I would call the first excitement or motivation. They will want to see that you have a positive outlook and a solid sense of your own abilities. Judging from your post I think you will be OK in the excitment part but you need to be confident. Research the employer as much as you can to give you a comfort level when speaking to different issues. Also, I would try to envision the reason why you feel this job is important in general and not just as a means to pay your bills. Just a few thoughts best of luck to you. - by eokee
Ronchism, what level of sales experience does the job call for? - by Agent Smith
Hi Ron. I don't have time to respond, at the moment, because I am on my way out the door, but as luck would have it, I just applied to an online college and was contacted by someone who already has a job like the one you are applying for. We had a very positive experience with her. I will think about our experience with her and try to post some specific comments later on today based on our experience from the OTHER end of the buying process. - by RainMaker
Thanks, eokee. Yes, the confidence thing is something I'll have to work on. And your perfectly right, of course, about finding other motivations other than paying bills. I'll most definitely read more about the company REAL fast tonight. Thank you very, very much for responding!! Your comments were helpful. Also, just having a place where I can talk to someone is important. - by RonChism
Thanks, Agent Smith!! The job calls for 2 years of sales experience, and a Bachelor's is preferred.

I talked to my friend who works there, and he told me that despite the posted preference of 2 years sales experience, they actually don't stick to that that hard. He says what they do is gather a number of prospective employees in a room, tell them how intense the work is, then announce, "Okay, we're going to leave the room now. Anyone here who feel that they won't be able to hack this job can leave now."

Well, my friend told me that the work is intense. But he told me that once you get hired, it becomes clear that they're not going to boot you out if you don't come up to snuff real fast. He says they really don't like to fire people, and they'll generally let an individual wash himself out.

I was told by the interviewer that the reason people wash out is because they assume that the job is a customer service job, and don't make the calls. He stressed that it's a sales job, and that you have to get on that phone and call.

Sorry for the length of this note. I type very fast, so I have a tendency to write too much. Thanks again! - by RonChism
Thanks, RainMaker!! What a coincidence!! I will definitely be looking forward to your observations of your experience with that recruiter. I think the ladies often have an advantage in sales [?].

Also, I truly wish you the best of luck in the pursuit of your educational goals!!

Thanks again! - by RonChism
Ron, once you've secured the position you desire my recommendation would be to choose a sales plan that you will stick to initially and then "work your plan." ;) - by SalesGuy
Thanks, SalesGuy. As short as your note was, I must tell you that it hit hard--in a good way! It's sound simple, but it makes good sense: choose a method, and then WORK it. Stick with it.

I'm going to implement all this advice, as well as read whatever else is at this site. Thanks a bunch! - by RonChism
SalesGuy, can you elborate just a little. Remember, I'm totally new. By "sales plan," do you mean a script that I memorize, or an outline of some type that I use while talking to a prospective recruit? - by RonChism
SalesGuy, can you elborate just a little. Remember, I'm totally new. By "sales plan," do you mean a script that I memorize, or an outline of some type that I use while talking to a prospective recruit?
Working a plan has an incredible way of increasing one's productivity so my answer would be "Both".

To get started plan out a typical day. For instance, prospecting calls in the morning and appointments in the afternoon. Or whatever works best for your offering.

Next, plan out a typical sales call. For instance, what information do you want to get across and what information do you want to discover from the prospect. This is where the scripts come in.

As days goes by you'll flesh these out quite a bit more but for now these are a start. ;) - by SalesGuy
This is a good start. It is possible that your guidelines will actually help me during my upcoming "final" (I hope) interview. They might ask me how I would approach my day, etc.

If you have any idea what kind of questions I might receive in a sales interview, let me know. When I get home tonight I'll go over all this good advice everyone's given.

I seem to recall some guy, years ago, telling me that there are steps in the sales process, that lead to the final "closing" when you explicitly ask for the order, or the check, or the enrollment in this case. Do you know those steps?
Thanks again!

-Ron - by RonChism
I seem to recall some guy, years ago, telling me that there are steps in the sales process, that lead to the final "closing" when you explicitly ask for the order, or the check, or the enrollment in this case. Do you know those steps?
Here is a link to a thread on your question: http://www.salespractice.com/forums/showthread.php?t=459&highlight=steps - by SalesGuy
Ron, I would say you have received excellent advice today.

Because your prospects have already filled out a form with a decent amount of personal info, getting them to say "yes" as in a typical sales scenario may not be your primary problem. These leads are decently hot (or at least warm). I think your biggest challenge will occur AFTER someone says they 100% want to do it.

I decided to try selling my product in other cities, once, entirely by phone. I was very persistent and methodical in my approach and I made some sales. But I discontinued this approach because I discovered an unexpected obstacle that drove me nuts. I got people to say "yes, I'll take it." I got them to mail me their check (amazingly), but then I needed them to send me a couple forms and their menus (they were pizza restaurants) so I could fill their order AND I COULD NOT GET THOSE DARNED PEOPLE TO STICK A COUPLE PIECES OF PAPER INTO AN ENVELOPE AND MAIL IT!!!

During a face to face presentation, the prospect makes a buying decision; you fill out all the forms; they give you money...most of the transaction is completed then and there. Getting people to take action AFTER the hang up the phone is challenging.

In order to get his transcripts from the '70s, my husband discovered that his community college in upstate NY has not yet discovered technology. He had to mail in a written request asking for the request form (which would come by US mail) then fill it out and mail it back to get his transcripts to be mailed out!
That was only 1 step in the overall process.

I'm guessing you already have the right phone persona or you would not have survived the first 2 phone interviews. Here's my advice: Emphase how you will follow up RELENTLESSLY to keep your applicants on track and that you understand the importance of creating a sense of "urgency." Our rep called us 5 days before the deadline and told us about the noon on Monday deadline next week to enroll in October. It was too late for us to get on the stick by that time. EACH contact should have ended by emphasing the upcoming deadline and how some steps take time and need to be addresses on an ASAP basis.

Good luck. I have a feeling you will succeed. You've already put more engergy into preparing for the interview than many put into their work. - by RainMaker
RainMaker, the issue of follow-up calls is not something I would have thought to bring up in an interview. THANKS!! I'll most definitely bring it up, as I'm sure they'll ask me a question that will allow me to do so.

My friend who currently works there [and is going to spend 30 minutes with me tomorrow trying to get me prepared], did mention that he sometimes has a difficult time getting prospective students to realize that they have to get their financial aid documents in to Sallie Mae ON TIME. I'd almost forgot about that, until you mentioned it.

I feel like I could become about 80% ready for the interview just with the information I've gotten here, if I can pull this information together into a coherent role play between myself and my wife.

SalesGuy, thanks a bunch for the link! Incidentally, I've printed out this entire thread, as well as the thread about Success Components. And I've been studying all of this this evening. I'll look at that link tomorrow morning.

Thanks again!! - by RonChism

Here are some more thoughts for you. IMHO, In a new sales position, you need to quickly learn the features, functions, and benefits of your new product. What could you offer? why do you offer it that way, and how does that benefit the student?

Then, you need to learn about your customer - who is your best target? What characteristics do your best customers share? What are they concerned about, and how can you fill that need?

Find out about the competition. Who is the competition? How are you different and/or better than the competition?

Find out what causes confusion to potential students that could cause them to raise objections to signing up? What kind of questions are your peers usually asked, and what are the best answers? Identify real vs. perceived objections. For instance, if the student wants auto repair training and you don't offer it, that's a real objection, :D and you might as well move on.

Also, related to Rainmaker's comment on follow up. IMO, the best sales people need to be organized. Odds are, you won't sign up each prospect on the first phone call. Recognize you'll need a system (automated or manual) to track who you've contacted, the result of the discussion, and the next action step. If you are responsible for obtaining the enrollment paperwork (it could be someone else's job and your boss may prefer you don't spend time tracking it down), incorporate that into your tracking system. Find a way to get past that problem. Maybe you ask the questions on the form, fill it in and fax it to them for their signature. Be creative!

Go into the interview with a clear definition of how you're going to excel at the job, and that will serve you well.

Sounds like you've got a great approach. Best of luck. Hope this helps.


PS - I type fast, too.:o - by KSA-Mktg
One more thought--not related to THIS particular interview, but any interview. Don't be afraid to ask questions. When I am interviewing, I am much more interested in the candidtate who is actively asking questions because it means they are serious and interested. For me, this they get my interest more than the ones that just sit there like a lump and nod. - by RainMaker
Thanks, Kathleen and RainMaker!! I'll try to pull all of this together. - by RonChism
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