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How sales skills can get you any job

By Gretchen Barton

National Association of Sales Professionals

2:40 PM EST, November 6, 2013

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When I started looking for new career opportunities after leaving the restaurant industry, I was pretty nervous. After all, what could work in the food industry have to do with any other kind of job? I worried about the transferability of my job skills, until I realized that sales skills are not only transferable, they are also an inherent part of just about every kind of job.

In what way? There are key elements to every job that are characteristic of sales jobs. After searching for, and finding a job, I believe that the sales skills I gained in a sales position were ultimately what helped me find success when job searching. After all, there are a number of essential sales skills that are just as essential for getting a job.

Here’s an example of some of those skills:

Knowing your product. In sales, knowing your product is key to making any kind of sale and ultimately getting a paycheck. The same goes for applying and interviewing for jobs; it’s essential to know who you are, where you come from, what you can offer, what’s special about you and how you will fit in any company as you apply and interview for a job.

Planning for the encounter. In any sales job, it’s essential to prepare to make the sale. This includes studying up on what you’re selling, who you might be selling to and how you will approach your potential customer. This skill applies to work in restaurants and to applying for jobs. No matter who you are approaching, planning is essential to achieve success.

Getting your client to like and trust you. Working in restaurants, you often have a limited window of opportunity to get your clients to like and trust you. This window of time is essential in building the foundation to the sale and creating a positive experience for all parties involved. Similarly, when applying and interviewing for a job, getting your interviewer and any other person you might interact with to like you is essential to scoring the job.

Finding out their needs and being their solution. Whether it’s knowing if your guest likes his table or if your interviewer has a job available for you, being willing to ask questions and then listening to what is being said is essential for gaining the information you need. When you really hear what other people are telling you about their needs, you have an opportunity to fill that need and be their solution.

Sealing the deal. To make a sale, it’s necessary to ask your customers to commit and follow-through on their interest with a purchase. In the same way, in an interview setting, it’s important to set up next steps and action items. That way, everyone leaves the interview knowing what to do. It saves you time, and it helps you get the job.

Making it a win-win. A common misstep for anyone in sales is believing that making a sale is “getting one over” on the client to whom you’re selling. This mistaken belief doesn’t help anyone. Rather, it’s important to believe that what you’re selling, whether it’s food or yourself as an employee, is a great deal for the client or company. And it’s important to be that great deal for the company as well.

Sales skills may not seem easily transferable from one job to the next, but in fact, these skills make all the difference in closing the deal on the career opportunity of your dreams. It’s as simple as using your skills to help yourself.