closing the deal

So, I just complained on Twitter about the fact that sales reps who come in for interviews typically don’t close me.

And that’s a bad thing – frankly, that’s pretty much a deal killer in my book.  As a matter of fact, I look for every candidate to close me at some level (a sales rep had better ask for the job directly – an engineer can close softer, maybe by telling me they’re interested in hearing more and want to keep talking).  A marketer had better get creative – I once had one pull a book out they’d seen on my Amazon wish list with a note saying “hire me – I do my homework” written on the inside cover.

Here’s the thing: an interview is a sales presentation.  In fact, the whole job search cycle is probably pretty closely akin to landing a big biz dev deal, or merger. Here’s what I mean:

  • You start out by developing a business –  basic idea at first, that iterates and grows in value (ie, learn to walk, talk, get some edumacation, etc)
  • You may partner with or be acquired by a couple of other firms along the way.  If you’re lucky and smart about it, the other companies add some value to your company, before one of you walks away from the other.
  • All along the away, you should be doing some basic marketing, just to keep your company/ product’s name out there (ie, personal branding)
  • When you’ve decided you want to find a new company to do business with, you get more aggressive with your marketing
    • You go from just blogging, twittering, etc, to direct marketing: sending out resumes, posting your availability (if safe to do so) to your various social media Status bars (use something like ping.fm to make this easier), direct networking (you know, calling people on the phone), etc.
  • You get a few bites – there are firms that are looking to do a deal with you.
  • You’re about to go meet them
    • This is where a lot of people fall down
    • If you had a killer business idea to present to a VC, and you had a meeting to ask for funding, would you walk in cold, knowing nothing about the VC, and barely anything about your product’s strengths, in a t-shirt too boot??
      • You are a killer business idea – treat yourself and the company you’re meeting with that in mind
      • Do your research.
        • Know your story – read your resume over and over, it’s your marketing one-sheet on the product
        • Use ZoomInfo to find out everything you can about the company, and the people you’ll be meeting – figure out what you think their needs are, and how your skills can make their life easier.  That’s why they’re looking to hire someone: to make their life easier, and their company more successful
  • So, there you are: dressed well (and don’t you dare send me shit about how “if the company was smart, they wouldn’t care how I dressed, because they should be able to see past that to how great I am”  Oh, really?  Fine.  Tell you what: invite me to your wedding.  I’ll show up in a diaper – if you’re smart, you’ll just be sooo happy I’m there, because I’m the cat’s pajamas, and you should be grateful I hauled my stinky ass in to grace you with my presence).  Sorry. Rant.
  • Where they were we….?  Oh, yeah: you’re being polite and actually dressing like a grown up.  Nice handshake (you washed your hands to cool right before you went in, sucked on a mint in the car, didn’t smoke a single cigarette all day, checked your teeth in the mirror, etc), good eye contact without being a freakish starer, make small talk to start the conversation off, etc.   You know your stuff about who you are, and what they need.
  • They tell you how great you are.
  • Goes great, in other words…

Then, you stand up, and say, “well nice to meet you.  See you later.”  And walk away.

Crap.

Here’s the thing (about to mix metaphors, screw it): if you’re on a date, and at the end you offer a firm handshake and walk away, think your date’s going to think “oooh, he/she like me, they really did, I’m going to write about this magical evening in my diary!”  Nope.  They’re going to think “what the…? I thought it was going great – I was charming, they laughed, we admitted some weaknesses, pumped up our strengths, went through salary history, their sales, all of it.  Why didn’t the kiss me?”  (see that? I just mixed metaphors with a freaking Cuisanart – boo, yaa).

If you don’t let them know you’re interested, expect a similar level of deflation.  Ask for the job.  Tell them “man, this went great, I’d love the chance to work with you guys.”  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this.  Nada. Zilch. Less than zero (lousy novel that I still ate with a spoon, stupid ealy 90’s).  It’s not rude – hell, it’s expected.

Even if you don’t want the job, fucking lie.  Your whole goal is to get to an offer – you may be thinking you don’t want to work there, but after the fact may discover something that changes your mind.  Get the offer. Ask for the job.

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