Introverted Sales Guy
Did you say introverted sales guy? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
Actually, it is not.
I spent a good bit of 2015 working with Steve (not his real name). Steve is an introverted sales guy—or better known as an account manager. In the sales world, he was the “farmer.” He cultivated long-term relationships with his customers. Steve was really good at it.
Steve had spent over twenty years selling very specialized manufacturing equipment. One day early last year, the company let go of over half of the sales staff. Steve was approaching sixty years of age…and he was scared. He had not searched for a job in over 20 years and was afraid to tell anyone he was unemployed. Steve is a classic introverted sales guy.
I will jump to the end and let you know that he was hired into a great position in less than a year using the system I am going describe below.
What were his core needs at work?
What made him feel valued?
What energized and restored him? (By the way, his were art and the outdoors.)
What kind of boss did he want?
How much structure did he need? (By the way, he was a structured anarchist!)
From the evaluation, we created a set of branding statements to work with. We then tackled his brand story. We reworked his LinkedIn profile, connecting to all of the complex products he sold in his previous position.
Based on his needs, we developed a set of open-ended questions that he could use in any interview.
As an introverted sales guy, he was now very prepared. He could explain why the right company should hire him.
All of this was pretty standard for any job seeker. Then, the real fun started.
Reaching out to Weak Ties
Steve reached out to colleagues he had formerly worked with from last 20+ years. These people are referred to as weak ties. Weak ties are those people who know you but do not have a close connection to you now. Even though your connection to them is weak, they know people you do not know. Weak ties are actually more valuable in your job search than anything else. Steve had a lot of weak ties.
Steve felt embarrassed that he was unemployed. Reaching out to these people was really hard!
What Steve discovered is that most of the people he reached out to had experienced unemployment in the last decade. We are long past the time when, if you were unemployed, there had to be something wrong with you.
The more Steve reached out to former colleagues, the easier it became. Did I mention that Steve is a really nice guy? People remembered him and were willing to help.
He became quite adept at finding people on LinkedIn using the advanced search feature. You can read more on how he did it here –> #2 Method to Find Companies – LinkedIn Advanced Search
He rapidly grew his LinkedIn connections. He found a tribe that was willing to help.
Steve then took a two-pronged process to find companies that were capable of hiring him.
He followed the process described in this post –> #1 Method to Find Companies – Weak Ties. By leveraging his weak ties, he found companies that needed account managers with Steve’s expertise.
Next, he harvested LinkedIn company pages. He started with his last employer and used the “similar companies” section to find companies that were either direct competitors or were in adjacent industries. You can read more on how to do this here –> #3 Method to Find Companies – LinkedIn Company Pages.
After following this very deliberate process, he found the perfect match. A former colleague and weak tie worked for a company that made components that went into the manufacturing equipment Steve previously sold. This company needed a national account manager!
The interviewing or, as I like to refer to it, the courting process, happened pretty quickly. It was only about 6 weeks from the time he was introduced to the company to the time he received an offer of employment.
The Introverted Sales Guy Job Search Process
Steve now knew who he was. He could explain himself—something most of us who have worked in the corporate world for 30-40 years cannot do.
Steve did not attend any networking events. He spent all of his time researching his weak ties, reconnecting with them, and finding companies that were capable of hiring him. He did all of his “networking” one on one via e-mail and phone conversations. He leveraged his network to the fullest. Steve had a network that was larger than he would ever have believed. As an introverted sales guy, this process was quite comfortable once he realized that just about everyone was willing to help.
I told Steve early on that his next job would come through a relationship and that he had no control over the timing. This is exactly what happened.
Steve learned that he needed to maintain his network of relationships for the rest of his career. He is now a believer in using LinkedIn for both his personal career advancement but also for finding and cultivating relationships in his sales position.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation?
Tell us how you handled it. Tell us your story.