From the Battlefield to the Boardroom Podcast - Episode 14
Leveraging Your Military Background to Land a Career in Sales
Sales is not a career field that many military candidates immediately consider as an option during their transition from the military to civilian life.
Brian Henry, Senior Vice President of Recruiting at Orion joined the show to discuss some of the perks of working in sales.
Sales is not a career field that many military candidates immediately consider as an option during their transition from the military to civilian life. Brian Henry, Senior Vice President of Recruiting at Orion joined the show to discuss some of the perks of working in sales,including determining whether a career in sales is right for you, what attributes Hiring Managers are looking for and why they want to hire Veterans, and tips for interviewing for a Sales role.
"If you are interested in a career in sales, the first step is to understand what sales is," Brian explained. "The best way to do this is to read a few books on sales, network, and conduct an informational interview with someone currently in a sales role, to learn more about the specific types of sales," Brian advised. "These steps will help you to determine if a career in sales is a good fit for you, and help you learn why other professionals like this career field."
Brian also offered some insight on what Hiring Managers are looking for and why they want to hire Veterans for sales positions, explaining that the soft skills that veterans have gained in the military complement a sales career. "Companies have learned over the years that a transitioning Officer or a degreed leader with no prior sales experience really can be a great option," he explained. "A leader who is driven, motivated and competitive with outstanding presence and presentation skills has the ability to overcome no prior sales experience and get the job," Brian stated.
Veterans are used to working autonomously, possess outstanding confidence, can set and achieve goals for themselves, and have great potential to move up the ranks, Brian further stated. He urged Veterans to be "confident in the soft skills that you've gained, which will be weighted heavier than previous sales experience."
Lastly, Brian offered tips for interviewing for a sales role, explaining each common interview question and providing insight and advice on how to answer. "It does take a little extra focus to prepare for sales questions you can anticipate," Brian stated. "For the common first question, â€˜Tell me about yourself,' you want to highlight those traits and skills that are important and relevant to sales - competitiveness, autonomy, ranked highly amongst your peers, etc.," Brian said.
"Tailor the question, â€˜Why are you getting out of the military and why do you want to pursue a career in sales?' by painting a picture of why you are a good sales candidate," Brian advised. "A great answer for this question is that you want to work in an environment where you're truly rewarded for your performance, time and effort. If you've done the preparation of why you want to have a career in sales, you will have an excellent answer."
The question, "Tell me about a time that you've sold something" is where most Veterans stumble, Brian warned. "If you don't have a sales background, you want to have an example or two of situations in the military that you can relate to the sales process, which will also help you to thread in your understanding of sales as a whole," he advised.
Sometimes, a Hiring Manager may throw an interview "trick" question, such as "Sell me this pen, coffee cup, etc.," Brian said. "For someone who hasn't prepared for the interview, the candidate will launch right into talking about how great the object is," he warned. "If you understand the sales process, the first thing you will do is to ask questions to determine what the person is looking for, why, etc."
Another common interview question is "What are your goals?", Brian confided. "In a sales role, your goal should be to learn quickly, develop relationships, and become one of the top Sales Representatives," Brian stated. "Focus on your presence solving the need, and if you do well, you will be afforded opportunities to meet your other goals down the road."
The most important part of a sales interview is the closing. "You are competing against people who typically have a background in sales; therefore closing the interview is very important," Brian advised. "The best way to close is to lead in with your questions," he added. "The goal is to gain some level of commitment to move the interview process forward and eventually receive an offer."
Sales is an exciting career and a great option for many people coming out of the military. Orion has numerous resources for veterans who are interested in a career in sales. Brian concluded the episode with some advice for those who are preparing for the interview process, and not just for a sales interview. "Even if you aren't considering a career in sales, read a sales book, because when you're interviewing, you are selling yourself," he advised.