7 Things we look for in Sales Applicants
Finding a job in today’s economy is no easy chore. As companies downsize, file for bankruptcy, or shut down completely, the number of employers hiring naturally decreases and the byproduct is that we also have more people looking for jobs. Unfortunately for the employee, employers can now afford to be more selective when hiring.
Despite the woe of the general perception on the economy, companies are still hiring. This week I attended a job fair hosted by a local WaMu branch that is closing their doors on 400+ employees. At this job fair, there were 30 different local companies all looking for qualified candidates to fill open positions. Certainly there are fewer options available right now in the job world, but there are options.
Reply! is gearing up for 2009, expanding our sales teams dramatically. We’re receiving resumes from a variety of people with all different backgrounds. While different companies and different positions all have their own requirements, here are some things that I typically look for, or overlook when interviewing inside sales candidates.
To Cover Letter, or Not to Cover Letter?
They say you can never be over-dressed for an event. Whether or not the posting you’re responding to requests a cover letter; submit one. Keep it precise and give the reader a quick synopsis on why you should be considered. In today’s market, most managers don’t have the time to read every cover letter and yours won’t be read if it’s intimidating to the eye. Avoid long paragraphs and save the rapport building for the interview. At the same time, not sending a cover letter is a mistake; it wreaks of “resume-blasting.”
Do Your Homework
Time is money and in today’s world, managers are commonly being spread thin. Department heads are busy, and their time is more valuable to their company than ever before. Learn as much as you can about the company and the position you’re applying for, before you show up for the interview. It blows my mind when I ask an interviewee “how much do you know about our company” and their response is “not very much, I was hoping you could tell me more about it today.” You lose credibility and your lack of research translates in to lack of desire. I don’t like wasting time – yours or mine.
Cross Your I’s and Dot Your T’s
Yes, I did that on purpose… So many resumes are submitted with out being spell-checked, but it can’t stop there. Spell check not catch improper use of “too, two, to, etc.” The same applies to proper punctuation and capitalization. It won’t leave a lasting impression on your potential future employer when there are fifty other applicants who know the difference between proper nouns and nouns. After you’ve triple-checked your resume, have three other people read it. If the third person still finds an error, get a fourth person to read it.
Include Length of Employment for Each Position
Many resumes are submitted with only the year range of employment provided versus the month and year. When a resume says “Senior Sales Executive……..2007-2008,” it gives the indication that perhaps you only held this title from December 2007 to February 2008. If there were jobs you held for only a brief stint, be honest instead of trying to mask it through exclusion, as it will most likely come to question during the interview. If you’ve had a streak of working for failed start-ups, honesty is the best policy. And if the position was less than four to six months, it’s probably not worth mentioning.
Bullet Points, Not Life Stories
Many candidates provide details on previous responsibilities and accomplishments; use 3 – 5 bullet points for each job and include quantitative information. Long paragraphs intimidate readers and I’ll usually end up not reading it at all. Just give me the bottom line and support it with date. Instead of saying “I was a very hard worker, I was always on time, and I exceeded my quota almost every month in 2007,” try saying “Dedicated, punctual employee, met 125% of 2007 sales revenue quota.” It’s easier to read, but also shows that you measured your own performance.
C-Level Applying for Entry-Level?
I’m a skeptic of resumes laced with President, Founder, CEO, EVP, or other titles that would make any employer question why a former executive is applying for an entry-level position. I appreciate an entrepreneurial candidate that wants to join our sales force; if you ran your own business and truly were the President or CEO, try changing your title to something like “Entrepreneur, Self-Employed, or Sole Proprietor.” Unless you truly do have a history of senior or executive management, a resume that goes from “Bank Teller, Washington Mutual” to “President and CEO, Johnson Holdings, Inc.” will be scrutinized. Unless you’re applying for a lateral move, humble yourself and pick a less suspicious title.
Invest In Your Paper, Invest In Your Future
Always, always, always bring multiple copies of your resume to an interview. Showing up without a resume is amateur behavior. Assuming you’ve got that part down, remember first-impression is everything. Invest in some quality paper to print your resume on. Use paper that is heavier than regular copy paper and carry it in a hard portfolio that won’t bend or crumple the paper before you show up. Off-white colors are okay too, but keep it subtle. And use a laser printer; if you don’t have one, Kinko’s does. I’ve been accused of being a picky interviewer, but I’m impressed with people that bring resumes on nice paper. It shows attention to detail, but more importantly the resume stands out in the stack that piles on my desk each day.
In a sales call, you have thirty seconds to make a first impression, and you never have a second chance. Submitting your resume is the true window for first-impression. You give what you get; if you want to be considered for employment in today’s economy where there are more resumes floating around than actual work, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Practicing what I preach, I’ve condensed fifteen pointers down to seven hints. Hopefully these hints provide some insight on we look for when recruiting for inside sales. I look forward to your comments and feedback.
Here is the challenge Reply! is solving: make locally-targeted advertising simple and profitable. For example, a Chevrolet dealer may only be interested in consumers in close proximity to their dealership, while a national brand such as Honda may also be interested in locally-targeted traffic so they can generate more consumers in areas where they have significant inventory sitting on the lots.
We all know that Google offers the most widely-used solution for cost-per-click marketing. But when it comes to local advertising—especially by the smaller advertisers—Google’s Adwords has some challenges:
- Adwords is far-from-perfect when it comes to geo-targeting. In fact, our data shows that when we geo-target on Google, only about 50% of the traffic comes from the intended geography. Google relies on IP filtering, and the problem with IPs is that often they don’t represent the geography where the user is located.
- Google is complicated, and it takes experts and an expensive infrastructure to become SEM-ready and take advantage of Adwords in a profitable way. This may be fine for large advertisers, but not every company can make that investment.
- Geo-targeted clicks on Google are practically cost prohibitive. This is especially true for small advertisers with little to no history using Adwords. A national click for Chevrolet may cost Reply! less than $1, but the same click—if geo-targeted for San Diego (mind you, Google will send over 50% of the traffic from outside of the selected area)—may cost us as much as $5.00. On top of that, given the history of our relationship with Google, the sophistication of our landing pages, and the associated quality rankings we enjoy, we receive substantially lower minimum bids than new and smaller advertisers would. A new advertiser would literally pay two to three times the cost-per-click that Reply! or other large and established advertisers would spend.
The fact is, to date, the online advertising platforms have done a less-than-adequate job enticing these locally-targeted advertisers to move online. Up to this point, the online systems built for that purpose are simply inefficient and too complicated for non-experts.
So here is our solution:
- We offer the consumer the opportunity to better define their search. For example, if the consumer is searching for “Chevrolet,” we ask the consumer on the landing page to define the model and the location. We need this in order to deliver the consumer to a much more relevant page.
- The same solution is offered to other websites where consumer demand is generated for “Chevrolet + specific location.” So, if the host site doesn’t have a service provider for that make and location combo, the click can be monetized through our platform, and the consumer can seamlessly land on a relevant page vs. being confined to the limited relationships offered by that specific service.
- Using our platform, advertisers are able to bid for a click or lead. Given that we generate category-specific traffic, the advertiser has no need to manage keywords. They simply tell us if they want clicks or leads, determine the geography that they are interested in, and provide their desired bid and budget. This set-up takes no more than three minutes to complete, and results in highly-efficient and profitable access to precisely-targeted online traffic.
- We use both click and lead bids in our system to determine the winning bid. In the case of leads, we estimate the yield per click and go through all available bids in a real-time auction. The system automatically delivers the traffic to the highest-yielding and most relevant alternative.
Reply!’s solution helps the consumer gain access to the most relevant result, and helps the advertiser gain access to category-specific and locally-targeted traffic.
- Get clicks through Reply! for a fraction of Google’s cost-per-click
- With Reply!, there’s no need to build expensive infrastructure for SEM
- The Reply! solution delivers precisely-targeted traffic
We have spent almost two years developing the platform for clicks and leads, and have filed multiple patents, with full belief that our solution can act as a catalyst to moving significant dollars from offline to online and from less efficient online alternatives to Reply.com. I’d like to think that our success in this area can be great for online marketing as a whole. With our more efficient platform, we can drive higher profits—while eliminating advertising waste—for all those involved.
As always, I welcome your comments.
Found this document on slideshare and found it a fantastic read.
Interesting Take Aways:
- Scalability, Network Effects, Data Mining, Openness, Co-creation, Business Model
- The mobile industry in not suited for the Google development model based on openness, interoperability and network effects.
- YouTube acts as the platform of a two sided market composed of content providers and video seeking users.
- Google partly destroys Microsoft’s market when shifting value from offline to online.
- Facebook’s platform is limited. Google’s open social strategy is web-wide.
- Google has the financial power to buy traffic from partners, accessing massive audiences (Firefox, Dell, iPhone, Adobe, AOL, etc)
- They acquired DoubleClick to gain expertise in display and a global market
- Google supports the OpenSource community in a spirit of collaborative creation, one of Google’s strategic pillars.
- Externalizing tasks onto users (crowdsourcing) is a commonly used process to improve its products.
I was surfing around and found a post on Geek Estate Blog that I have added additional resources too. For those in creating real estate sites, this is a great resource of free data that you can integrate.
- Google Docs - free online software, similar to Microsoft Word, that allows you to easily share documents with clients.
- 2000 Census data – 2000 Census data available for download from the US Census Bureau. Here is the ftp download server.
- Yelp Review Search API – local business information with reviews using neighborhood or lat/long. We use the Yelp APIs in several sites and have found them easy to work with.
- Hoodeo - A site that tries to match you with your ideal neighborhood. Think Match.com but for neighborhoods.
- Terabitz - A fantastic site that has rolled together a bunch of real estate APIs. Reply! is working with Terabitz on our ConnectingNeighbor.com sites.
Neighborhood and City Home Values:
- Zillow Local Real Estate APIs – Retrieve local home value trend charts with the GetRegionChart API and a wealth of other city and neighborhood home value data from the GetDemographics API.
- AltosCharts – Local market price charts.
- Cyberhomes - Local real estate APIs (free). We use both Zillow and Cyberhomes for data distributed on our sites.
- Eppraisal.com – Local real estate APIs (free). Great company, fantastic design.
- Zillow Neighborhood Boundaries – 150 cities covering 7,000 neighborhoods available via a Creative Commons license.
- Yelp Neighborhood API – Input a lat/long value and get a neighborhood in return.
- Zillow GetRegionChildren API – Input a city and state, and receive a list of neighborhoods and their center points in return.
- Terabitz - They offer listings from several sources.
- Oodle.com - Reply! uses Oodle’s home listings on our ConnectWithLife.com service.
- GraphicalData – MLS / IDX feeds, local school information.
- Education.com Schoolfinder API
- NCES Common Core of Data – Data about all public elementary and secondary schools. Descriptive information on schools and school districts; data on students and staff; and fiscal data.
- GreatSchools.com - a wonderful resource with tons and tons of schools available via their API.
- Yahoo Weather API – enter a ZIP or a geo location and receive current weather conditions in return.
- WeatherBug API – Live weather conditions by location.
Originally reported on TechCruch, I found this an interesting post. Google has launched a Digg-like voting feature to organic (free) search results. As seen in the screenshot below, if enough people click the up or down arrows, those votes are counted and will have an impact on SEO ranking. Google is also allowing consumers to enter comments for a search result, if you are logged in. Adding these social features helps convert Google searchers into “logged-in” Google clients and helps them overlay an intelligent social filter. Also, if enough people are encouraged to log-in, Google will amass a ton of knowledge about searchers and refine their behavorial and geo-targeting capabilities.
Thank you again to everyone that helped launch the Click Marketplace yesterday–it was a huge success. We are thrilled by the exposure it has provided to Reply! and look forward to more coverage. Here is a recap.
- Lead Marketwatch – great coverage, understands the offering
- TechCrunch Coverage
- Kelsey Group Blogs » Reply.com Seeks Out Qualified Traffic For SMBs
- LeadCritic Blog Coverage
- Washington Post (TechCrunch) – Reply.com Launches Geo Targeted Ads On The Cheap
- CBS Marketwatch – Reply.com Launches World’s First Marketplace for Enhanced Clicks(TM)
- Geek Estate Blog – Reply Releases a Marketplace for Enhanced Clicks™
I would like to address some of the issues raised on the above blog posts, as there may be some confusion regarding what the Reply! Click Marketplace offers: introduction of an extra page, impact to Google’s quality score, target market.
Most online advertisers have consumers land on some type of a landing page after clicking on a link. To use the Reply! Click Marketplace, we aren’t asking companies to change their customer acquisition processes in any manner. Today, due to poor geo-targeted capabilities in Google and Ad Networks, we believe many companies buy traffic outside of their serviceable areas, while other companies are willing to increase their online advertising spend in specific geographies where they aren’t getting enough traffic.
Reply!’s Click Marketplace can assist in two ways:
- Once an advertiser determines the traffic falls outside their serviceable area through their normal acquisition process, we allow them to pass some basic information about the click (click type and location), redirect that click into a real-time CPC auction, and convert that unmonetizable traffic into premium revenue.
- Reply! launched a vertical PPC platform similar in concept to Overture, but using categories–not keywords or text ads–to transact clicks. This simplification is critical to eliminate the need for complex and expensive online marketing infrastructures and large teams of expensive online experts. The Reply! Marketplace allows advertisers to purchase category-specific clicks, after consumers have indicated the product or service they are interested in and identified the geographic area where they are located. This “Enhanced Click” dramatically improves geo-targeting, because the consumer tells us where they are located. With increased control and geo-targeting, advertisers can profitably move offline advertising budgets online, and move existing online budgets to where they will generate higher return on investment. Our goal is to make Internet marketing easy and profitable for businesses of all sizes.
Regarding Google’s quality score: we thoroughly tested the Click Marketplace process through our own online acquisition channels and the associated conversion funnels of search, ad networks, SEO, affiliates, SMS, and email. Google quality score was not impacted. Advertisers are not changing their conversion flows in any manner and, therefore, consumers are not hitting the back button any more often and going back to Google to conduct another search. What any advertiser does with a click–post acquisition–is up to them.
The point is, until now, only the most sophisticated businesses–with significant investments in technology and personnel (bid management, keyword expansion, analytics, quality filtering, etc)–could make online marketing through search engines and ad networks profitable.
Regarding the target market, there are numerous lead generation and service-based companies (think Yellow Pages or Classifieds) that acquire consumers through some form of a landing page. Many of the largest vertical markets require personal contact (either face-to-face or by phone), such as automotive, real estate, mortgage, home improvement, insurance, education, etc. As online advertising continues its market share gains at the expense of traditional media, dollars will shift from IYP and classified advertising to performance-based marketing, and these companies need viable solutions that make online marketing simple and profitable. We offer those companies the ability to maximize their revenue by easily purchasing clicks for specific products or services, in a precise location. This will dramatically reduce their non-serviceable clicks, reduce their investment in time, and increase their ROI.
Enhanced Clicks™ ensure consumer intent and location, simplifying locally-targeted, performance-based marketing
San Ramon, CA – December 3, 2008 – Reply.com (www.reply.com) announces the launch of the world’s first marketplace for Enhanced Clicks™. This new, patent-pending marketplace delivers consumers who have expressed interest in a specific product or service, in a precise location. Reply!’s innovative marketplace allows advertisers to gain access to their target audience without the complexity of traditional online cost-per-click advertising, significantly simplifying the profitable acquisition of locally-targeted customers.
“Using the Reply.com Marketplace, there are no keywords to manage, no bid-management software to implement, and no need to outsource online customer acquisition to 3rd parties,” said Reply.com chairman and CEO Payam Zamani. “Instead, there are controls that allow advertisers of any size to access consumers who are looking for a particular product or service, select desirable locations, throttle volume, and dynamically set their desired price-per-click. The system automatically delivers the specified traffic, based on the advertiser’s budget.”
The Reply.com Marketplace allows advertisers to purchase category-specific clicks, after consumers have indicated the product or service they are interested in and identified the geographic area where they are located. This Enhanced Click™ dramatically improves the value and conversion potential of the traffic.
With increased control and segmentation, buyers can profitably move offline advertising budgets online, and move existing online budgets to where they will generate higher return on investment. The major benefits of the new Reply.com Click Marketplace include:
- Control: Delivers category-specific and locally-targeted clicks
- Profitability: Reduces cost and complexity associated with local online marketing
- Simplicity: Provides easy access to city-level, product- or service-specific clicks
- Quality: Filters for intent and fraud
“Until now, only the most sophisticated businesses—with significant investments in Internet marketing—have been able to access online consumers profitably.” said Zamani. “We are on a mission to make Internet marketing available to businesses of any size by making it easy and profitable to generate locally-targeted and category-specific traffic.”
About Reply!, Inc.
Reply.com is the leading online marketing platform for the acquisition of locally-targeted and category-specific consumers on a cost-per-click or cost-per-lead basis. By eliminating the need for complex and expensive online marketing infrastructures and large teams of experts, Reply.com makes Internet marketing available to businesses of all sizes. Reply! provides a highly-profitable alternative to online marketing solutions offered by major search engines and ad networks.
Tuesday December 2nd, at 11am, Payam Zamani, CEO and Brian Bowman, CMO, will be interviewed by ActiveRain Community Builder, Brad Andersohn, and Rich Jacobson. For more information check out their blog post.
From their post, “Most real estate professionals here on ActiveRain have fairly strong opinions about lead generation companies, some who have enjoyed good experiences, as well as those who have had not-so-good experiences.
Now is your opportunity to actively engage in conversation with one of the company’s who are aggressively guiding lead generation into the next century!
For further details, check with Rain Radio.”
You can listen to the radio podcast interview below
According to an article in today’s USA Today, Ford says November U.S. light vehicle sales tumbled at least 31% while Toyota sales fell 34%. They are the first major automakers to report U.S. sales.
Despite the downturn in sales, Reply! continues to see strong demand for online automotive Leads.