Help Wanted: Bank Robber
This cover letter accompanies my resumé (see attached). I am applying for the job of sales representative for your printing company and believe that I would be an outstanding candidate, albeit an unusual choice given the fact that my current profession is that of a Bank Robber. But I have a lot of time on my hands (approximately two to four years) and that has given me the opportunity to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life.
The career path that I have taken has been exciting and challenging and I have developed many good skills. However, I believe that I have taken it as far as I can and have reached a dead end. In a manner of speaking, I feel as though I am in prison and anxious to bust out, regroup and move forward. Studying your industry, it occurs to me that my skills line up perfectly with what it takes to find success in print sales. It is simply remarkable how similar we are. Here, let me give you some examples:
1. I have meticulous preparation skills—In the same way that you must prepare for a sales call, I never just walk into a bank and yell, “Stick ’em up!” Your chance of success is low. A salesman might call that cold calling. I’d call it suicidal. So, just as a print sales rep must do his or her homework, I need to case the joint. I study my prospects to make sure that they are in my target market. I go on LinkedIn and learn the names and backgrounds of the top personnel and decision-makers so that I know who has the keys to the vault.
I look at their website to understand their business model so that I am able to cash in (pun intended) with a greater degree of success. If I just brazenly walked in on a whim in the same way that a print sales rep stops by, we both face gatekeepers. The difference is, mine has a gun. But if the most important skill a print sales rep can have is that of knowing how to research a company prior to commencing with the prospecting process, I am already ahead of the game.
2. “I know a guy”—The highest rate of success in my line of work comes up when I have a contact on the inside, someone who can give me the lay of the land ahead of time. The same can be said for print sales. Either way, I understand the value of building a network and staying in touch with people over the years. This is especially true with the little guy. That is, it’s great when you know people at the top, but once upon a time they were at the bottom and, by extending your net of contacts down to that level and then maintaining relationships, they grow to positions of power. That can make your job easier.
Print salespeople must have the same thinking and get into the habit of meeting at least one new person with every visit to an existing account. Then, put their contact information into your database and stay in touch for the best chance of turning that casual acquaintance into future business. Of course, in my line of work if things go wrong, they will disavow any knowledge of you!
3. I know my target market—Not every bank is a good prospect for me. By carefully selecting whom I “call” on, I increase my chances of success. Print salespeople must also understand their sweet spot. What are the best industries to call on? Which ones are good fits for my company? Then, it’s important that they understand the kind of person within that company that is best suited for a sales call. Some relate well to women and others to men. Certain job titles are also more attractive than others.
A lot of what I do—correction, did—comes down to a gut feeling, one that is developed over time. Bank robbers have a sixth sense and, through trial and error, come to understand when an opportunity is just right. I believe that this skill will serve me well as a print sales rep. Malcolm Gladwell calls it thin-slicing in his book “Blink.” It occurs when you come across a situation and something inside you clearly defines it as good or bad. In the case of print sales, thin-slicing results in making quick decisions on where to spend my time with a prospect and when to cut my losses and move on.
4. The Big Fish—The difference between being petty and being notorious in the bank robbing business comes down to one big score. We all dream of a job that sets us up for life (ironically, failure can also set us up for “life”).
Current salespeople must always have multiple Big Fish on their radar if they want to reach sales in the seven figures range. Large accounts take more time and require a different approach, not to mention more effort. It takes just as much time to write up a $100,000 order as it does a $500 order.
5. A process and effort—As I mentioned, I know the value of preparation and will bring that skill to my next job. Of equal importance is to create and follow a step-by-step, week-by-week plan. This holds true for robbing banks and selling print. I have already created a plan for getting in front of decision-makers that consists of multiple touches.
The final piece is effort. I am highly motivated and can promise you that if I fail it will not be from a lack of trying. In any sales job, diligence is the trump card and its presence outweighs the importance of skill and experience. I will out hustle my competition and win appointments through pleasant persistency.
So, armed with a plan for prospecting, outstanding preparation skills, an understanding of the best targets to pursue, and a desire to succeed that will manifest itself as effort, I present my resumé to you in the hopes that you will consider my application for employment in the position of print sales. Oh, and in preparation for my new career, I have come up with a list of prospects to call on. They are a target market that I feel has great growth potential for us: Citibank, Bank of America, Chase...PI
About the Author
Bill Farquharson is a print sales trainer and vice president at Epicomm. He can be reached at (781) 934-7036 or email@example.com. Find more of his content at PIWorld.com and sales.epicomm.org, including new downloadable videos.