Monday, January 12, 2015

How To Land Your Dream Job

I asked a recent college graduate, "What is your dream job?"

"Too early to tell," came the reply. "What's yours?"

I smiled. "I'm doing it!" I answered, and then realized I was building presentation kits at the moment. I laughed. "I love being a business consultant. I love my entire job - even stuffing envelopes and writing presentations!"

"How did you get your dream job?" she asked. She was serious, and earnest, and almost looked like she might take notes on my answer.

"I treated every job I do as if it was my dream job. I figured if I apply the enthusiasm, thoroughness, and positive attitude I would have for my dream job to everything I do, I'd find more things I'm good at, and do more of them well. Then it was always clear what direction I wanted my career to take. That's how I discovered consulting was my dream job, and that I'm really good at it. People constantly ask for and follow my advice!"

I learned it from a friend. He explained that he tried to never say "no" to a new experience, and even in a job he hated, do it so well he was proud of his work. He looked at each part of his work from a labor and management perspective, educating himself on how the actions fit together into the whole. Within 5 years of adopting this attitude, he had his dream job.

I tried to do the same. I work hard, keep it positive, and learn as much as I can as quickly as I can. What I quickly realized is that when I was focused on my work, and not on my wants, I did a fantastic job, and received terrific reviews. Could it really be that simple? Yes!

It doesn't matter what job you have now. What matters is how well you're doing it. You can build skills, colleagues, and terrific references from the mail room to the board room. Flipping burgers teaches you about labor, management, and inventory control, among many other skills. Learning about management practices is often easiest by being managed yourself. Learning what skills you love and excel in is best achieved by doing. Every job educates you better about what you do and don't want to do next. And creating rave reviews for yourself will always make you an in-demand employee.

Don't expect to jump from entry level to executive level in one step. Move to positions that will teach you more about how to do your dream job beautifully, and look at each position as a specific, important step in the path to your dream job. Apply one or two steps beyond your current position, and be yourself in your cover letters and interviews. Value your own work. You'll be surprised how quickly you get to your dream job.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Resolution To Keep This Year

Teach your sales staff (and your customer service staff) to sell. There is no degree, license, or certificate program out there to verify that your sales force knows what they're doing, and can consistently deliver customers. Yet, the existence your company depends on it.

Onboarding an employee is expensive. It costs tens of thousands of dollars per employee. New sales pros are hired, trained on the product and the computer system, and then sent into the field for months of trial and error. On average it takes a sales pro 6 months before they are consistently profitable. That's 6 months IF THEY WORK OUT! If they don't, the company starts the process all over again.

Why don't most companies train their sales people to sell? Sales training is an "additional" expense because it adds to the initial cost of onboarding, and because of that companies shy away from the perceived cost. However,over a dozen recent studies show that the opposite is true. It actually makes you money.

Companies who specifically train new and existing sales pros in sales techniques lose fewer than half as many sales people, because their sales staffs perform significantly better. (I guarantee my clients a 10% or greater improvement in closings within the first month. Think of that adding up over a year!) New hires who fail the training are let go, and quickly replaced with someone more likely to close business, saving months they would have spent failing in the field.

Sales managers are also usually untrained. For a team to work effectively together, it helps to have common goals and related sales tools. A team trained together speaks a common language. It allows teams to fill each other's deficits, and reinforce each other's strengths.

What does it cost to train a person to sell? It depends on the trainer. Companies who choose to train their sales staff often hire a consultant, at a cost of $2000 to $8000 per week, once or twice a year. The number of employees trained by one consultant in a week can vary by the size of the available teaching space and training style, so those $2000 dollars can train 2 employees, or 200. A week or two is usually enough. One or two day seminars are great refreshers once or twice a year. A very expensive option, sending staff off site to seminars for days or weekends, is popular, usually at a cost of $500 to $1500 per employee, plus travel, hotel and meals. These tend to be name-brand seminars from book authors and TV personalities. Some companies employ a sales trainer, and keep them on staff at all times. In 2014, the average sales trainer who was a corporate employee was paid $65,000 plus benefits. All of these options are cheaper than hiring and replacing just one failed sales pro.

Sales training works. It's cheaper than an under-performing employee, or worse, a failing sales department. If your employer doesn't train in how to sell, ask the best sales pros you know for ideas. Read whatever they recommend, and do your best to learn a new skill each week.