You are here

In any industry, matching the right individual with the right organization is a key factor in determining success. Sales and marketing professionals, to begin with, are a unique breed all to their own. Taking a sales or marketing position that does not match a particular personality type, character trait, or even career expectation can result in lack of motivation, poor performance and ultimately, job discouragement.

It is so important for graduates to not only look for a job in their field, but the right job for them specifically. So try turning the tables around for a change because asking the right questions will get you the answers you need to decide whether a particular company or position is the right fit for you.

Asking about peaks and valleys in the sales cycle previews what your personal schedule will be and indicates how secure your job is down the road. If slow times are the norm, sooner or later, scaling down of the sales team may be necessary in order to stay in business. If they are slow two to three months a year you may be able to take advantage of the down time to relax and recharge your batteries. On the other hand, if they are busy all year without a break you may get burnt out. The key is to make sure there is a balance for you and your particular lifestyle.

While the matter of salary and commission is a very important question, it shouldn't be asked until you have a sense you may be offered the position. Some companies work on 100 percent commission while others have a base salary with a percentage of sales as commission. Which option is better really depends on you. Are you comfortable having your salary fluctuate depending on the amount of sales you make or do you prefer a guaranteed amount every pay period?

Chances are you will do a better job selling if you believe in the product or service you are trying to sell. Make sure you research the product thoroughly and find out if there are any ethical issues or sales methods you may disagree with. Searching the Internet or reading sales literature is a good start. Remember, if you believe in and are passionate about the product you will be more convincing to the client because genuine enthusiasm is contagious. Likewise, if you have a problem or aren't totally convinced this will reflect onto clients and ultimately result in poor performance.

Some companies rely on their sales team to do their own research to identify prospective clients while others take the time and effort to develop quality leads for their sales force. In some smaller companies you may need to do your own research but make sure you are not spending most of your time gathering leads rather than selling. Don't forget what you were hired to do: SELL. If you are spending the majority of your time on a different task how can you expect to perform properly? Also take a look at their current client list. Are there repeat customers or is each a one shot deal? This will give you a clear idea as to how hard you will have to work down the road.

Asking for a quick tour of the office is key in determining what your days will be like and gives you a sense of the working conditions. Some people thrive in a loud and busy setting while others prefer more of a quiet environment where everyone gets their own working space. You basically have to decide what works best for you. Most sales managers will gladly show you around. Also keep an eye out for charts or boards tracking individual progress. It will give you an idea as to how the sales manager motivates the team. Make sure the emphasis is not just on ÔÇÿquickie' sales but also long-term progress.

Think sitting in on a typical day at your prospective office will help you figure out what's right for you? Don't hesitate to ask. If the sales manager is seriously considering hiring you he or she will have no problem with you sitting in. You don't need to say anything, just listen carefully. Hearing a call will give you an idea as to the sales style of the manager. Does he or she do most of the talking or does the client? Is the sales manager pushy or use an intimidating style of selling? Is a professional sales approach used or are any means necessary used to close the sale? Determining the style of your sales manager ahead of time will give you a clearer picture as to what is expected of you and to what lengths you are expected to go to achieve this goal.

Sales is a competitive industry and most people who have been around a long time have developed a thick skin. Gage how your personality meshes with that of the sales manager. Does he or she make you feel inferior or do you get a feeling of support and motivation? You need to be able to get along with both your superior and your co-workers and communication is a big part of that. If you feel your personalities may clash or an open line of communication is not encouraged this may not be the environment for you. Try to find a company with a culture that fits your particular personality and values. You are going to see these people day in, day out, and your life will be a lot more pleasant if you get along.

Photo: LDProd/Thinkstock