Right People. Right to Your Bottom Line.

Are you buying or selling?

A long time ago a mentor of mine told me that people like to buy, but they hate to be sold.   I am reluctant to admit it, but it took a number of years before I knew what he was talking about.  Now I’m a number of years older with a few gray hairs in my head and some life experiences under my belt, and I completely understand what he meant, and I was recently reminded of the value in that statement when helping a client hire 12 new salespeople for his team.   Let me explain.

The resume is a a classic marketing piece.  It’s the document that gets 8 seconds (That’s a fact, see previous blog post on this) of attention before moving a candidate forward or tossing the resume into the circular file.  I was going through piles and piles of resumes and I saw a pattern emerging.  There were two distinct types of resumes: “buying resumes” and “selling resumes.”   Let’s look at a few examples.

Resume 1 has the following statements in it:

  • I’m competitive
  • Top performing sales person
  • Eager
  • Over-achiever
  • Can sell like no one else

Resume 2 has the following statements in it:

  • President’s club winner 7 out of the last 10 years
  • For the last 6 years I’ve been in the top 15 out of 147 sales representatives.
  • Rookie of the Year award in 2005
  • Been “New Hire Mentor” for all hires in the North East for the last 3 years.
  • Developed an approach for selling xxx that was so successful, it was adopted by the whole company in 2010.

Which resume were you more interested likely to move forward in the interview process?  If you chose resume 2, then you are in the majority.   If you chose resume 1, then you are not only in the minority, but also you may be setting yourself up for a poor hire.

Resume 1 is a “selling” resume.  The person with that resume is telling you what he/she thinks you want to hear, and it works on some people; however, most see those statements with a certain degree of skepticism.   Resume 2 is a “buying” resume.   When reading these statements, they make you want to buy.  Why?   “Selling” resumes are usually lack numbers, stats or dates, and as a result you feel that you are left to take the person’s word for it.  “Buying resumes” will typically have more specifics and baselines you can use as a comparison and that makes the resume feel more believable.  As an experiment, we interviewed some of candidates out of both groups and found their interviews to be equally as intriguing.  The “selling” group talked in hyperbole and almost never were able to provide clear examples of what they accomplished.  The “buying” group was better at giving us multiple examples with clear specifics during our interviews.  We were also able to more confidently recommend more people in the “buying” group for hire because of those specifics.   Top performers want their numbers and achievements out there, whereas bottom performers are more apt to provide vague, grandiose statements.    Not that the “buying resumes” are always void of “embellishment” and other “errors,” but you’re better off hiring someone out of the “buying” pool than the “selling” pool.

So if you are putting together your resume or if you happen to be diving into a pile of resumes for that new hire, take the “buying” approach and you’ll set yourself ahead of the competition.