What’s Wrong With Me

Ah, Jake. Okay, not Jake, but that’s the name I’m going with for anonymity’s sake. Jake is a talented sales professional. In an industry where sales average a couple hundred bucks a pop he managed to exceed his sales quota by $2.3M big ones. Consider for a moment how many sales went into that number. Can you tell he is an expert in his field? On top of his ability, he is sincere, smart, honest, professional and humble. This is a business development pro many companies would love to have on their team.

You know where this is going, right? Jake is looking for work and having a hard time getting bites. He’s not seeing a lot of opportunity for him to sell himself to in Michigan. You may be wondering why Jake is looking for a job when he was making millions of bucks for his last employer. He wasn’t fired or laid off. He and his family made the decision to move to Michigan from Maryland for personal reasons. He came with little concern about Michigan’s dismal economic picture because he had faith in his abilities and felt he’d be an asset to someone here, as he rightfully should. He’s got a possible option, but if that one doesn’t pan out he’s back to square one. His faith is diminishing.

When Jake and I met he was eager for me to tell him all the things I could find that were wrong with him. Like many job seekers, he was ready for the onslaught of negative judgments against his person and background. His frustration over his lack of success was eating away at his confidence and inspiring thoughts that he must be flawed in some way. Well, if he’s flawed he hides it well. His problem isn’t him, it’s his strategy. He’s asking himself why an employer wouldn’t want someone who can deliver at the level he’s proven to do in the past and coming up empty. There’s a reason he’s coming up empty. It’s because most companies with a grain of sense would want a proven producer. Executives, not HR Assistants, in those companies have to know about him first, though. They have to be a company truly looking to grow at the hands of a talented professional. He’s wasting time looking for what personal adjustments he needs to make when what he should be doing is completely revamping his strategy of what companies he is reaching out to. So far the companies have mostly been those with sales positions posted on job boards. Bah!

If you are a talented professional with a proven track record of delivering that kind of moola to the bottom line of a company you pick your next employer. You look around at the companies with products, services and cultures you think you could sell effectively and you network your way to that business owner or senior manager. It doesn’t matter if they have a job opening or not. Savvy executives with an eye on profitability should always want to hear how someone can take them to the next level.

What’s funny, and yet not, about Jake’s situation is he actually finds himself mildly apologetic for what he’s earned in the past. It’s his handicap, of sorts. He’s already convinced himself he’s not likely to make the same in Michigan as he made in Maryland? Why though? Because he’s less of a salesman here? That’s what it would have to be for his income potential to suffer. Since that’s not the case he’s got to refocus and up his game. He’s chasing generic opportunities and convincing himself he could sell this or that if he had to. He’s allowing employers to weigh him against cheaper options, and considering becoming a cheaper option himself, without challenging them to consider why these individuals are cheaper. With most sales professionals on some sort of performance-based compensation plan the most common reason a sales pro is cheaper is because he/she didn’t deliver the goods to the same degree. Now, who should companies want on their team, the person they are going to have to pay 6 figures to because he made them millions or the person they are going to pay $40K to because he made them a hundred thousand or so? Do the math and make the sale, Jake.


  • Cindy Kraft says:

    Preach it, Lisa! Jake is executing what I call the “spaghetti strategy” … trying to be all things to all people while throwing his resume against the wall hoping it will stick somewhere.

    Gaining clarity around “his” value, strengths, skills, and passion … and who would be willing to pay to get that package (his target audience) would give him much stronger positioning.

    If you’re not competing on value, you’re competing on money. And companies will choose cheap over value when there is no value present or evident.

    Cindy Kraft, the CFO-Coach

  • Lisa says:

    Cindy, I love what you said! “If you’re not competing on value, you’re competing on money.” Fantastic!

RSS feed for comments on this post.