I’ve got a zero tolerance policy for lying. I just can’t stand it.
Honesty is one of the first things I look for in a job prospect. The reason is simple: lying makes you a horrible salesperson and, worst, a terrible coworker and teammate.
Many members of my generation (I’m a Millennial) have common misconceptions about sales reps. In their minds, salespeople are silver-tongued tricksters hustling snake oil. While that may have been true in the past, business-to-business sales is an entirely different game.
B2B sales in particular is all about solving a meaningful business problem and providing long term value. Business development and sales are the front line of your company’s customer experience, and you should be representing your organization positively and with integrity. The promises reps make to prospects define their expectations if they become a customer down the road.
In the information age, it is widely accepted that a majority of the sales cycle is complete by the time a prospect speaks with a human being. It’s a sales reps job to uncover the pain or business problem a prospect is struggling with and determine if your company can solve it for them. Swearing to a company that you can do something for them – which you can’t – is a surefire way to create an unhappy customer, make your support team miserable, and- worst of all – contribute to your company’s churn rate.
These kinds of generational misconceptions around Sales Reps extend to interviews. Some millennials I’ve meet with start their interview with an endless stream of “Yes, sir” or “Of course, Mr. Nibur.” Excessive politeness (and it’s cousin, outrageous arrogance) in verbal or written communication lack personality. None of these are attractive traits and, frankly, not how real professionals interact. Almost all of the executives I work with communicate with short, to-the-point emails, or by simply walking up to you and telling you what’s on their mind.
The worst effect of this false professionalism is it leaves the interviewer with little sense of who a person is. At InsightSquared, we work to treat the first in-person interview as a chance to get to know a person and culture fit is tremendously important to small companies like ours. One of our core values is to build a place we’d rather be than anywhere else so we very rarely think of what they do as “just a job.” When you come in to interview we’re constantly asking ourselves; is this the kind of person we’d like to work with? If you don’t show us in that first interview that you’ll have a positive impact on our environment we’ll hesitate to advance you in our hiring process.
So please take a breath at your next interview and try to let your personality come across. Take a moment to try and find common ground with your interviewer. Just chat about something besides work that you’re passionate about. Whether that is about sports, books, or cooking, beer, or anything else that will give them a sense of who you are underneath the resume.
Remember, you’re not just a prospective employee. You’re a potential co-worker and teammate. If you don’t give your interviewer a sense of who you are you missed your first and possibly only chance to influence them. Be honest from the start and aim to form a connection with anyone you interview with.