Ask James Caan – 28th June 2011 – Issue 53
This week, James Caan advises a sales professional on how to go for a promotion, and shares an exciting development with LinkedIn group members.
I have some exciting news to share with you. From next week, the column will undergo a significant development with the arrival of the first of our guest columnists.
I’ve invited twelve hugely successful and talented business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry names to take questions from the LinkedIn community and provide advice to members.
To get things rolling, I’m pleased to confirm Bev James – one of the UK’s most sought-after motivational business speakers and MD of the Entrepreneurs Business Academy – as the first of my guests to appear next week.
A Trained Coach, European Master Trainer for DISC Personality Profiling and a Master NLP Practitioner, she has over 20 years’ experience transforming businesses in diverse sectors. Please make sure to pose your questions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to the column, and this week I’m answering a question from Dave – a sales professional who seems to be stuck in a rut.
‘I am a sales executive that has missed out several times for a promotion. I’m not sure if it is my age (I am 40) or my performance at work, but I am not getting anywhere in my current role. I think I’m good at my job, I have been there for 8 years, and I like the company, but I don’t think I’m getting anywhere. What should I do?’
Dave, I chose your question this week as it touched on a number of debated topics within the group at present.
The current economic period has seen many businesses tighten their belts and in many cases, shed staff to cope with quieter periods. And, especially in sales, you may have noticed the competition within your company environment has become much fiercer as employees up their game, all vying to demonstrate just how valuable they are.
The positive thing about your situation is that despite missing out on a few promotions, you’re still obviously an asset – especially after eight years. But I think it is worth getting to the bottom of why you’re not progressing. Is it because you’re pitching for a role unsuited to your skill set? Or is it because you’re failing to sell your skills correctly?
When you learn you haven’t been successful in a promotional interview, what do you do next? If you aren’t requesting feedback and sitting down with your manager to discuss ways to improve, you need to reassess the situation.
Look at the value you are adding to the company: what skills and qualities do you possess that make you an asset? People believe they are instinctively brilliant at selling themselves, but the truth is most of us are not skilled at that. You have to learn how to do it.
In order to sell yourself, you must identify what are your most valuable attributes. Are you an expert closer? Or perhaps you’re much more confident in client-facing situations? Once you’ve identified your USPs, find ways to present yourself. If you are unable to identify what you’re best at, ask your line manager for their feedback. They may provide some surprising ideas.
Avoid using age as an excuse. I honestly believe that with age comes experience, and your career can be re-invigorated by conducting a real self-assessment on your skill set. Even the most successful sales people require time to re-hone their skills.
Above all, Dave, the key here is to remember that the business environment at present has fostered a survival of the fittest culture. If you can adapt your skill set to suit the business climate and maintain a positive outlook, you should be well on your way to a promotion.
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