The purpose of your resume is to move you to the next step in the hiring process. Whether that is the initial interview, or to complete personality, compatibility or skills testing, if your resume moves you forward, it was effective. Over the years, I have seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of B2B sales resumes, the vast majority of which did nothing to help the applicants obtain employment. In fact, in most cases, it did the exact opposite!
So why are even the best B2B sales professionals being passed over by their desired employers? Most times it is because the sales professional, in an attempt to sell themselves on their resumes, never proved to the potential employer that they could actually sell their product or service!
The Importance of Cover Letters
Today, most cover letters are emails as opposed to actual letters as they were in the past. The old printed cover letter used to be part of the actual resume as it was normally stapled to it. Now, the email is read once, the resume printed and/or saved, and then the cover letter email deleted.
As such, the format of the cover email must change from its printed ancestor. It must be short, to the point, and must not contain any information that is not in the actual resume itself as that information will never be seen again. It must entice the reader to read the actual resume. Having said that, just sending an email that says you have attached your resume is not sufficient.
The format that has worked extremely well for me is as follows:
Please find attached my resume outlining my qualifications for the position of (name of position) as advertised in (name of publication or website). My (number) years of business to business sales experience qualify me as a valuable asset.
Some of my career highlights include:
– (List 3 to 5 bullet points that highlight you best accomplishments or that match the qualifications listed in the job advertisement)
Thank you very much for your time and effort. I look forward to discussing this opportunity with you.
The Format For An Effective B2B Sales Resume
As most resumes are submitted by email, you must create and submit it using a file format that the employer can read. Sometimes this is specified in the job ad itself. If not, then use Microsoft Word .doc or Adobe .pdf format. If this is not possible, then use rich text .rtf format. Virtually every word processing program can create and read this file format.
Sales managers and recruiters are extremely busy people, and the task of reading resumes is a necessary evil on their road to success. As such, no matter what, the length of your resume must not exceed two pages. If it is longer, edit it. Anything longer is not being read anyways, so what’s the point?
You contact information, including name, address, phone and email, must be front and center. Only list a phone number that you want potential employers to call, and ensure that there is the ability to leave voice mail because a recruiter will rarely call back twice. If there are instructions on how you are to contact the recruiter, follow them as they are actually testing your willingness to follow direction. Also, check your email daily and turn your spam filters off. Countless career opportunities have been lost because the email from the potential employer was never answered.
The main headings of your resume should be: Employment History, Education, Other Skills and Activities. Contrary to popular belief, in B2B sales, your future career goals are to be discussed in an interview, not on your resume. Besides, for a recruiter, after reading resumes for hours, everyone’s career goals start to sound the same!
Your resume must be accomplishment based. Anyone can say that they are an “overachiever” or a “sales superstar”. However, if you do not quantify your successes and list your accomplishments, you are actually raising hiring red flags as opposed to lowering them. By not showing the numbers, the recruiter thinks, “Is this candidate trying to hide less than stellar sales results?”
To highlight your accomplishments, each listing in your employment section should discuss your responsibilities, your achievements, and the skills you developed while holding this position. In the achievement section, you can also focus on your daily activities as a B2B sales professional, as many sales managers believe that consistent daily activity is an accomplishment! This format is a very effective way to show your potential employer what you have done, how well you have done it, and whether the skills you have learned are transferable to their company.
Lastly, the format of the resume itself must not just be readable, it must be able to be scanned. In other words, the reader should be able to scan your resume in just a few seconds and still know where you have worked, and the positions that you held. This is accomplished by the spacing and font formatting that you use. Also, please ensure there are absolutely no spelling mistakes. Nothing says that you do not pay attention to details louder than having spelling mistakes in your resume!
In the Sales Resource Centre of our website is an example of a resume that encompasses the suggestions discussed in this article. It is the same format that I have used successfully for many years. It was given to me by one of my university professors as it had worked for him for many years. More importantly, as a sales manager, if I received a resume in this format, I would be reaching for the phone to set up an interview before I reached the end of page two!
Good luck in making your career connections!