Be Prepared to Do the Job to Get the Sale in Business and at Work

As I pursued my career post-college, my salesman Dad did a great job of coaching me to prepare for job interviews.  While it wasn’t always a slam-dunk guarantee that I’d get the job, I always either brought my work-sample portfolio with me as show-rather-than-tell examples of how I could potentially meet a prospective employer’s job needs; or I actually put together a PowerPoint presentation of how I could best meet the needs of a prospective employer, clearly implying I was the best candidate for the job.  I secured several great career positions in this manner.

One key reason that I got the job in those instances is that I did my homework thoroughly on the prospective employer by researching and absorbing as much information as I could find on the company (and in the days before the interwebs, that meant a few solid hours or more in the library poring over hard-cover business periodicals), and on the business needs as expressed by the employer’s job description.  Knowing that research going into that initial meeting is an acceptable threshold:  actually applying that research in an initial meeting, e.g. doing the work and/or the job in the interview thanks to your preparation and/or maximizing your ability to think on your feet, is where the rubber meets the road for decision-makers, whether they’re going to hire you or buy your products /services.

And there is no secret sauce to this methodology:  it’s readily available in bleeding-edge literature and in the public domain.

What really sealed the “be prepared” deal for me was the coaching I received from my boss Chuck at my first Fortune 5 job. Chuck and I were responsible for press relations, and we had been quickly summoned to the site GM’s office to prepare a response to an unexpected press inquiry.  In my haste to be responsive, I arrived with Chuck empty-handed.  Chuck took a quick side-wise glance at me, and seamlessly tore a sheet from his legal pad, and handed me a pen from the group that lived in his pocket-protector.  As we left the meeting, I thanked him. He stopped and turned to look at me, his usually merry bright blue eyes laser-sharp.  “Never come to a meeting empty-handed again,” he decreed.  (What he actually said was a bit earthier, however I’m the wrong gender, which he also acknowledged.  You figure it out.)

That’s why Chuck’s coaching echoes in my mind when:

  • A candidate asks me to tell them about the company, because they have not taken the time to research the company themselves.  Really?  You can do it on your phone now, 15 minutes before an interview.  No schlepping to the library necessary.  That usually knocks a candidate out of the running.
  • Potential candidates and vendors who address me in email queries as “Deborah” rather than “Debra.”  I’m not fussy about the spelling of my name; I’m just not impressed with lack of attention to detail – it doesn’t meet my needs, or the needs of the companies I serve.
  • The assumption of some candidates that an interview with a company’s HR person is solely to inform candidates of company benefits.  And the ensuing surprise when I actually engage them in an interview conversation to determine if they meet the needs of the position.
  • Candidates getting lost on the way to an in-person interview, and arriving late; or failure to navigate technology for virtual interviews, and arriving late.  It just shows a lack of preparation, and that usually knocks a candidate out of the running, too.
  • Telesales folks who mispronounce my name, or share other careless mistakes on an unsolicited call to me, clearly demonstrating that the goal of the phone call is to meet their needs, and not mine.

How will you prepare to do the job to get the sale this week, in business and at work?


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