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Why everybody is in Sales, even you

Have you heard the saying that ‘everybody is in sales’? If not, you might be wondering how this can be and where this is going?

Sales Perception

For many people the very mention of ‘sales’ is a dirty word and sends shudders down them, conjuring up visions of pushy double glazing salesmen, estate agents (real estate) annoying spam phone callers or emails.  Does this sound like a familiar perception?

You might also be thinking that in your job or career you have nothing to sell, especially if you work in the public sector/services. However, the reality is that you don’t need to be in a ‘sales job’ or have a product or service to sell. Regardless of whether you are in HR, IT, Finance, Marketing, private, public or charity sector or running your own business, you will need to ‘sell yourself’ in numerous work situations e.g.

  • To win at an interview and get the job
  • Secure a contract or project
  • Gain promotion
  • Get approval for training or development you are aspiring to

Let’s face it, as professionals, we spend our lives ‘selling’ ideas or decisions you want your boss, staff or team to buy into e.g. a better way of doing things, the need for change, who you should hire, fire etc.

Selling Yourself at Events

When you attend conferences, seminars or networking events, depending on your job or situation, you are likely to be selling what you or your company/organisation has to offer and how this benefits others. I’m sure you do this almost as second nature, without thinking about this as selling? I experienced a wonderful example of this at a networking event which I will mention later.

Selling Yourself to Progress Your Career

You might be an aspiring executive or manager in which case you will need to sell yourself in many ways in order to achieve your desired goal by way of:

  • CV/resume
  • Job applications
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Interview/s
  • Networking meetings

Again, the reality is that people who are good at selling themselves, get on in life. I’m sure you know people like this who always seem to get promoted, move into better jobs or be successful in their careers and life. So what do I really mean by ‘sales’? After all ‘selling’, for many people, means forcing people to buy something they don’t really want doesn’t it?

A different take on ‘Sales’

What if I substituted ‘influencing‘ instead of sales’, how would this feel? Quite possibly this might put a different perspective on your views?

But what do all successful sales people have in common? Think about how they make you feel? They make you feel good, don’t they? Why……because of these:

  • Sincere – Great empathy, engaging and no bs!
  • Attitude – Enthusiastic, positive, encouraging, confident, passionate
  • Likeable – People ‘buy’ people or from people they like
  • Energy – Nothing is too much trouble, always going the extra mile
  • Solutions focused- Looking for a win, win e.g. right fit, right product, right answer to the problem or challenge

These are clearly all highly positive personal attributes. Therefore, use this SALES acronym to help you think differently and reframe how you feel about ‘sales’ and selling yourself, your company or organisation.  

What if you had a simple approach to selling yourself in any situation? 

That would be great, wouldn’t it? 

Well, here it is…….practice the ‘RUB’ approach, as a super simple way to influence people and achieve more of what you want and win, win solutions:

  • Rapport –  Learn how to build a bond naturally so you are quickly on the same wavelength to achieve a mutual ‘meeting of minds’
  • USP/s – Your unique selling proposition/s . Might be considered an old hat term but focus on selling what makes you different or better and stand out
  • Benefits – ‘Sell’ what value you can add/ how you can make a difference/ solve the problem or take away their ‘pain’. Get people or prospective clients to imagine how this would look or feel so they almost have to say YES!    

The RUB

Living Proof!

The wonderful example I mentioned earlier, was in fact a young intern who so clearly had all these ‘SALES’ attributes and was unwittingly using the‘RUB’approach to great effect.

Despite their young age, they absolutely stunned me with their rapport building skills, commitment and determination, travelling hours and miles each week for only travel expenses. They were going the extra mile literally! They had also gone to great lengths to research the opportunity, understand what was required and make sure they secured the internship.

They had a great energy about them and enthusiastically ‘told’ me all about the product they were helping to develop and why it was so useful. I was ready to buy it from them if it had been fully developed! Having learnt what I and my company does in the Career and People Development field, they then went onto share great maturity and wisdom about what they wanted to achieve in their future career. Also, why they felt it was important to follow your passions, doing work you love, rather than focusing on purely financial gainThis was clearly from the heart, without any bs as they gave me a brilliant example of how they were making ‘sacrifices’ to be able to save what little money they did have, to be able to create the working lifestyle they wanted. It was evident they hadn’t read my current book either!

I was so impressed I have asked to interview them for my next book project on Portfolio Careers, as they are a great example of a young person with great entrepreneurial skills who is likely to earn a living from multiple talents and multiple income strands. I am sure they will be a great success because they clearly know how to sell themselves and what they believe in, which is great!         

Reframing the sales process

Many sales organisations, courses and business gurus spend much time focusing on ‘closing the sale’. What if you turn this around so your focus becomes that people choose to buy from you instead? How much pressure would this take off you when you are selling yourself at interviews, business meetings etc? There are clearly some key techniques and skills involved such as NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which can all be learnt and like most things in life practice and persistence pays!

So, you might not have thought about it before but do you now see that you are ‘in sales’? Why is this so important? Because ….The more you develop and hone your influencing skills the better results you will achieve in your career and life!

 

Graduates Guide – Your timeline to achieve success

Here is your one stop shop of tips to help you achieve your potential whilst at University and move from academia into employment!

Year 1

  • Remember this year is about settling in, that includes focusing on your work but also having some fun!  This is a big transition and you will need time to settle in.
  • If you need structure and want to prepare during the induction period and in advance of course starting – Access Personal Tutor Support as early as possible
  • Need help? – Access referencing workshops, Study support groups etc as these will be on offer at your University. There are also student mentors who you can be assigned to you that are in year 2/3 who can give you support and answer questions relating to the course etc – Speak to your University and identify the support available
  • Need to earn some money whilst studying? -Speak to Student Support regarding local part time employment options, universities also employ students within their campuses which can be less demanding and more convenient whilst studying
  • Speak to the Employment and Work Placement advisers as they may be able to help you secure and achieve relevant work experience during your holiday periods. Companies start to interview and employ Xmas staff at the end of the summer so you need to start early and be proactive!
  • Communication – Keep a check on your progress, speak to your tutors and make sure you are on course for progression to year two, don’t leave it until the final few weeks and have a last minute panic
  • Set up a spread sheet to keep track of work set and deadlines as Universities do not chase you for your work unlike schools. If you miss a deadline there are no second chances (expect in extenuating circumstances whereby your tutor has agreed to extended your deadline in advance)
  • Specialising – in many degree courses you will have to make choices on areas of specialism in year one which you will focus on in years 2/3. Make sure you research properly the demand for expertise in your chosen strands. It is not helpful if these are not sort after by future employers.
  • Consider Accommodation options for second year and start viewing after Christmas – early spring, all the best places go quickly!
  • Summer Placements – If you want to get more experience or just earn a bit of money when you get home for the summer, remember you need to register with local recruitment agencies for temp work during the Easter break and let them know when you are going to be finishing for the summer. A couple of weeks before the end of term call them again as a reminder. That way you will be ahead of the game, completed your initial assessments and ready to call them regarding a placement as soon as you are home. Don’t rely on the agencies calling you. Make sure you ring them regularly!
  • Network – You will meet with a number of people when you do temp work, get their details and if you like the company ask about opportunities for when you have finished your degree, it might be early days but it is never too early to make contacts!
  • Consider investing in some personal ‘business’ cards which have your Name, Email and Mobile number on. You can buy these online for a few £ and think how professional they look against scribbling done your details on scraps of paper.

Year 2

  • Identify companies and organisations which recruit graduates with your chosen degree, make early contacts. You might be able to secure a short term work placement which could lead to future employment.
  • Check if your University has established links with local organisations for work shadowing, work placement or paid employment options – summer work
  • Network with as many people in industry that you come into contact with, they may be the key to future employment opportunities – Don’t miss an opportunity to make an impact and don’t forget to use your personal card!
  • Attend Graduate Recruitment Fairs – Companies have different selection dates for their graduate intake and they may well have information and tips to share on their selection process for use next year
  • Secure Accommodation for year 3/4

Year 3 / 4

  • This is your final year full of demands and exams but it is of paramount importance that you use every spare minute on prompting yourself to potential employers
  • Get career advice during the summer break if possible so that you are focused on your chosen career route before the end of this important year
  • Graduate Recruitment Fairs usually take place between Sept – Nov, register for your ticket early, research the companies exhibiting, update your CV and take with you a number of copies. You may need different versions if applying for a variety of jobs.  You may have attended last year’s recruitment fairs however new jobs and exhibitors mean new opportunities.
  • Company Graduate Schemes usually open at the end of the summer – autumn, many have a very short application period – Identify potential scheme’s in advance, don’t miss out!
  • Remember there are a huge number of other graduates all over the country that you are competing with for that elusive job!
  • Research, Research, Research – Company profiles, brands, values etc. Make sure you have the skills, attributes and ‘look’ that fit their profile. Knowledge is Key!
  • Register with specialist agencies and subscribe to specialist publications which relate to your chosen career route
  • Investigate internships – many companies use this as a form of permanent selection as they will have had time to evaluate your contribution and ‘fit’ within their company before committing to a full time contract
  • Identify companies you would like to work for, if they are not advertising vacancies at the moment be proactive and send out speculative letters, state type of work you are looking for and outline your experience both academically and employment. Companies like people who show initiative, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
  • Above all else avoid finishing your degree course and still not having a plan about what you want to do next – Seek professional Education and Career support, it is worth every penny!

If you need help with your Education or Career choices visit our website for more information.

3 Steps For Graduates To Making Yourself Visible to Prospective Employers

With unemployment high and graduate positions increasingly given to those with previous work experience – planning and organisation is crucial to making yourself visible to prospective employers. The following article provides some common sense tips and tricks that can help ensure you snag the best graduate jobs going.

Step One: Create and organise your ‘generic’ CV

Your CV is effectively a personal advert, its composition, content and structure are vital to your success. In a competitive market – a carelessly composed CV may see you fall at the first hurdle – don’t give your rivals an advantage from the start. Recruitment sites such as Guardian Jobs and others provide a multitude of guides on how to compose an excellent CV.

Be well organised – be sure to have names, numbers and addresses of any contacts that prospective employers may need to call for references. If you are a first time job-seeker, be sure to include details of any work experience or extra-curricular experience that you think may be appropriate – this can show initiative.

Once you have created a basic CV, tailor this according to the position for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for a job in marketing, you may wish to promote your sales experience or interest in a related academic discipline.

If applying for an analytical role, you can accordingly promote your attention to detail and how this has been reflected in your studies.

Step Two: Get Your CV Out There

Do your research: use the internet to identify specific fields and positions in which you are interested, read the job description and requirements carefully. Remember that you will be competing with dozens of other candidates for this position – so have a back-up plan, apply for more than one position.

In the meantime, research potential work experience or training opportunities that, should you fail to obtain the job of your dreams, will give you a distinct advantage over candidates next time you apply. Standing still means you give the advantage to the competition.

Step Three: Use Recruitment Websites
Whilst you’re busy applying for the job of your dreams, be sure to contact multiple recruitment websites such as Guardian Jobs, and provide them with your CV. Recruitment agencies will effectively advertise your services to thousands of prospective employers across the world.

You’ve literally got nothing to lose by employing their services – and ultimately you may end up with an excellent job opportunity. Failing that, you may have the chance to garner vital experience in another role – once again this potentially provides you with a distinct advantage over the competition in future.

So you want to change your job or career?

The longer you have been in a job the harder making the break is likely to be.

Times have changed as there are no ‘jobs for life’.  It is accepted people will change jobs every few years. You should not view this as a negative but a positive sign of improving yourself.

It is likely most of us, including those looking for graduate jobs, will change professions multiple times in our working lives. This is much more challenging than changing jobs as successful career change involves key decisions about what is important to you in your life and your career.

Self awareness is the start point for change!

An honest review of your situation i.e. what needs to change and why?

  1. Identify your reasons – What is wrong and why are you thinking about changing jobs?
    • Is it the company you work for – maybe the culture or ethos no longer matches your way of thinking or working?
    • The job you are employed in – are you are unhappy with the work you are doing, lack of challenge, bored or stuck in a rut?
    • Do you feel that you are being taken advantage of, are not getting the recognition you deserve or maximising your full potential?
    • Are you are looking to take a step up the ladder but can’t see the way forward?
    • Maybe you have gained all the experience possible and now wish to broaden this in a new environment?
    • Do you need or want to earn more money?
    • You feel you need a complete change?
    • Are you are no longer getting the enjoyment, buzz or job satisfaction that you used to?
    • Is your work-life balance all wrong?
    • Are you are fed up commuting or maybe wish to relocate?
    • Do you no longer look forward to going to work and are generally unhappy?
    • You have even started thinking about setting up your own business?
  1. Is it the company, job or your career that needs changing?

  • By addressing the questions in point 1, you should be in a much better position to determine what is wrong and even more importantly why you need to change, as this is the emotional driver, which prompts action!

Right Company – Wrong Job

You like the company you work for and have no real desire to leave. However, you feel trapped and promotion or opportunities to diversify into other roles within the company are passing you by.

What are your Options?

  • You should take the bull by the horns and discuss this with your boss
  • Invariably an informal chat works best
  • Stress you are very happy working for the company but wish to maximize your skills and move into a new challenge to mutual benefit
  • It may not be possible to change jobs in the timescale you are aspiring to, if so you have a decision to make
  • Keep an open mind and you can start looking elsewhere to test the market whilst you decide.

If your boss or company really value you it may prompt them to find or create a new position. If not, keep your options open as what have you got to lose?

Wrong Company – Right Job

You love your job but feel that the company is going in a different direction.

What are your Options?

  • Focus on finding the right job but with a company you feel you will enjoy working for
  • You can afford to bide your time to get it right
  • Start looking at recruitment sites, newspapers, magazines, trade journals and putting out feelers among your contacts
  • Networking invariably pays dividends, especially if you are known to be an expert or up and coming high flyer in your field

Wrong Company – Wrong Job

If you have come to the realisation both are wrong, you really need to do something to rectify your situation.

Like many people you may have ‘fallen into your job’ without any real planning and have had a big shift in your value set.

What is holding you back?

If you are at odds with your value set you will never be happy or fulfilled in your job. In order to change, you must change.

You may know things need to change but have buried your head in the sand, hoping the problem will go away. It is all too easy to stay in your comfort zone getting your regular salary and not have to face the problem, especially if you are paid well and finance is important to you.

Is it fear?  Maybe fear of the unknown or fear of failure?

3. What are the consequences of not changing job or career?

  • If your values are out of tune with the company or sector things can only get worse, as values are what we hold dear
  • You become the ‘victim’, often resulting in extreme frustration and anger taking over, becoming damaging for yourself and those around you
  • Negativity can consume your life
  • You spend your time constantly wondering what if’ but never daring to come out of your comfort zone and take that crucial ‘leap of faith’
  • Settling for the easy compromise option, starting to ‘vegetate’ and conditioning yourself to a life of boredom, without ever having to think about the unthinkable alternatives!
  • Above all else – never realising your full potential!

4. Do you recognise yourself in one of these categories?

If so, why be unhappy and continue to do something that you don’t enjoy or that is no longer right for you? You are unlikely to achieve anything significant in your life unless you challenge yourself and take yourself out of your comfort zone!

5. What stage are you at?

You are likely to be at one of 3 stages:

a) You know exactly what you want to do and how to go about it

b) You know what you really want to do but don’t have the courage to change

c) You are looking for a complete change but have no idea how to achieve this

6. How should you move forward?

  • Take action and start the process now as doing nothing is not an option!
  • If you are at stage a – go for it and start making your changes now!  – Maybe consider other Accountancy jobs?
  • If you are at stage b or c – enlist the help of a Career Coach to help you unlock your potential and achieve the job or career you really want
  • Invest in yourself and your future to take control of your life and your career!

If you want to know more about developing your career visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to Graduate Career Transition Part 2

Looking to move from academia into the workplace but unsure how to move forward?

You have now hopefully addressed the questions in part 1 of this guide. If not it is best that you refer to this first, as it will save you time and get you focussed!
Depending on the type of job and organisation you have decided you would like to work for will to a large extent shape your thinking

SMP top 10 tips to make a successful transition into employment:

1/ Develop a plan as what gets measured gets done!
2/ Clearly define your goals, set realistic timescales to achieve them and review your plan on a regular basis
3/ Consider what help you will need and how you will access this
4/ Research, research, research. Use your skills from university life to establish as much as possible about specific jobs of interest, the organisation, the culture, the opportunities, the recruitment process, their competitors, vision and anything else that can put you ahead of the pack
5/ Match yourself to the job and organisation with your skills, attributes and attitude.
6/ If you know people who work there yourself, or know people who know other people who work there, ask if they can get you an introduction or some initial work experience. Once you have a foot in the door it is so much easier to make an impact, so that the employer is keen to offer you a full time role
7/ Seek help and advice to get you the best possible CV, as this could make the difference between making the yes pile for an interview!
8/ Although it may go against the grain, be prepared to start ‘at the bottom’ and work your way up, especially if the employer only recruits via graduate schemes or internships.
9/ Once inside an organisation, be observant, network with as many people as possible and establish what type of roles that you would like to aspire to and make it obvious that you are ambitious and prepared to learn and graft to get there!
10/ Ensure you have a back up contingency plan in case ‘plan A’ doesn’t work and remember that persistence pays!

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website

Guide to Graduate Career Transition part 1

Got the graduation blues?

Looking to move from academia into employment but unsure how to move forward?

If this is your first foray into the world of work, after enjoying university life, for the majority of people it is a scary situation. The dawn of reality!

Regardless of whether you have any previous work experience, you have now reached one of the first milestones in your life and In order to make a successful transition into employment, there are a number of key questions that you must first ask yourself.

Be totally honest, otherwise you are likely to make mistakes before you have even really started on your journey!

1/ How important is your degree to you in a future role or is it something that you can utilise to give you a better chance of employment against the competition?

2/ Do you have any real idea of what job you would ideally like to do?

3/ Are you looking for a job (possibly any job to get you started) or a career?

4/ Have you researched the entry criteria?

5/ Are you aware of your marketability and what you have to offer?

6/ Do you know any contacts who might be able to network you in?

7/ Do you have an up to date CV and does it reflect you as a person, to sell you in the best light?

8/ Have you thought about what is important to you in your job?

9/ What type of organisation do you want to work for?

10/ How far are you prepared to travel?

Before you can start down the road of making this key transition in your life, you must first address these (and many more) key questions.

See how you do then get ready for some hard work to ensure you get what you want.

If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website