How To Find And Close Your Dream Sales Job

Rob Barnett is the author of NEXT JOB, BEST JOB and an experienced headhunter connecting the best candidates with hiring managers.

On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Rob Barnett explains what you need to do to find and then close your dream sales role.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:
Free SalesCode assessment
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Taken by over 10,000+ of your competitors. Don't get left behind.

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Rob Barnett
Experienced Headhunter

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

This episode of the show is brought to you from the salesman.org HubSpot Studio. Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Rob Barnett:

The greatest tips we’ve seen in our lifetimes, and what that meant, of course, is that the market got even more competitive. And take the hours or the day or two to figure out how am I going to speak to an actual human being at that company, not human resources? What we recommend people do is homework. Hours and hours and hours on what that company is doing, so that in the first thing they read about you, they’re going to read the resume.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation. My name is Will Barron, and I’m the host of the Salesman Podcast, world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, we have an absolute legend. It was a pleasure chatting with him. We have Rob Barnett. He’s the author of the book Next Job, Best Job. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about on today’s episode, how to find your next job and make sure that it is the best one, your most aspirational, whether it’s in sales, out of sales, whatever it is, how to find your dream job and how to close it and get in the door and speaking to these hiring managers, no matter what the climate is, no matter whether we’re in a global economic pandemic crisis or not, how to get this job done. Everything we talk about is available in the show in this episode, or at salesman.org. And so with that said, let’s jump right into it.

 

Will Barron:

Rob, welcome to the Salesman Podcast.

 

Rob Barnett:

Thank you so much. It’s good to meet you.

 

The New Job Market Demands and Expectations in a Post-Pandemic World · [02:03] 

 

Will Barron:

It’s good to meet you. I’m glad to have you on, Rob. On today’s episode, we’re going to get into how we can build a strategic resume or CV, if you’re in the UK like myself. Curriculum Vitae. That might be new on some of the audience who’s listening. But before we get into that, I guess I want to start on a wider context here, because clearly the world has changed. The workplace has changed forever. Salespeople seem to be always hopping and changing and jumping jobs regardless, but it might be that there’s a whole chunk of the audience right now who want to change jobs, want to change roles might be looking at changing careers. So, with that said, Rob, what do we need to do differently now than perhaps when we were looking at getting a job or searching for jobs two, three years ago? What’s changed post COVID with regards to getting a job? And then we’ll move on to the idea of a strategic resume later on.

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes. Great. Well look, the odds got tougher, right? It got tougher because the cut took the greatest hit we’ve seen in our lifetimes. And what that meant, of course, is that the market got even more competitive. And so for every role, there’s twice as many people going after it. And the same old same old is really not going to do it now on resumes, on cover letter, on LinkedIns. I don’t know what it is, but it just seems like when you asked me to talk with you about this topic, I feel like people become possessed by some kind of robot from the 1950s when it’s time to write a resume and they link it and they speak with these stilted old non-human tones that… I don’t know. I think that people have this belief that I’m supposed to do it like everybody else does it. And then when that happens, you end up in the stack, the stack of thousands of everybody elses, and you don’t stand out.

 

The Competitive Landscape in Today’s Job Environment · [03:30]

 

Will Barron:

So, I love this. We’re going to be on totally the same wavelength of all of this, I know that for a fact, Rob, because what I wanted to ask you was out of… Say that we’re applying for a complex, B2B sales role, a role that lots of people… Maybe it’s software sales, enterprise sales, a role that lots of people want to get into. Well, say that there’s 50 people in that pile, say there’s 100 people in that pile. From your experience, how many of those individuals are we actually competing against? How many of those individuals just are never going to get a shot? Their resume or CV is just nonsense, they’ve not got the experience, we’re never going to even look at them seriously. What number actually are we competing against? If there’s 100 people that apply, what number of individuals are likely to be considered?

 

“I think the primary problem that so many candidates can solve on a job search, is to make sure that if you’re applying for a role, you’re really lined up for the specifics of that role. Most job seekers are so bummed out that they’re having such hard luck that if a role is open for sales that if they’ve sold anything  then they immediately apply for that sales role, regardless of whether or not they’ve done the specific kind of requirements that that job is asking for. And you know what? If you haven’t, it is really a waste of time to apply for that role.” – Rob Barnett · [04:46] 

 

Rob Barnett:

This is such a great question. And you know, there’s two ways that I would respond to you on it. The first is who the hell’s looking in that pile, right? I’m always worried about who’s that person on the other end. Meaning, is it a robot or is it, God bless her, or God bless him, a 23 year old who’s some kind of a junior person in the human resources department with very few human skills, just looking for keywords and buzzwords. I mean, that part of it is terrifying. First is who’s judging that pile. But the second thing that really I think is the primary problem that so many candidates can solve on a job search, is to make sure that if you’re applying for a role, you’re really lined up for the specifics of that role.

 

Rob Barnett:

Most job seekers are so bummed out and I’ve been there more times than I wish. They’re so bummed out. They’re having such hard luck that if a role is open for sales and I’ve sold anything, this pen, that then I immediately apply for that sales role, regardless of whether or not I’ve done the specific kind of requirements that that job is asking for. And you know what? If you haven’t, it is really a waste of time to apply for that role. I don’t know what it is, but people feel like, well, it’s a numbers game, and I have to send out as many resume as possible. Not unless that resume is really lined up with the likelihood that if there’s 15 requirements, you’re going to be able to really check 12 or 13 of them no problem without saying, well, close enough, let me go for it. Don’t bother.

 

What to Expect From the Current Job Market Environment · [06:09] 

 

Will Barron:

Is it fair to say that getting a job in 2021 onwards is similar to the shift that’s happening in B2B sales? And what I mean by that, Rob, is that 20 years ago, perhaps you could hit your number by just cold calling people. Call, call, call, call. It’s a numbers game. Eventually you’re going to get the right person at the right time. You’re going to do a deal with them. Now, you can’t cold call people because no one has an office desk because no one’s in their office. If you don’t have the right message at the right time through the right person, and you’re involved in the organisation and you’ve got multiple threads within it, it’s very difficult to even have a hypothesis of what the buyer wants to engage that initial conversation. So, is it fair to say that not just sales, which we talk about on the show all the time, has transformed into a more complex sale? Is it fair to say that being… Not necessarily being [inaudible 00:06:54]… We’ll, perhaps touch on that in a second, but applying for jobs has become more strategic in its nature as well?

 

“If Kevin Bacon is the hiring manager, how are you going to talk to Kevin or one person separated from him at that company in order to do the thing that makes you stand out. So, you want to get some information about what’s really going on in the company beyond what’s on the digital page, before you can really kick ass in the interview.” – Rob Barnett · [07:52] 

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes. Beautiful. And I think that you have to get another job before you get this actual job. You have to actually decide that there’s a need to become a private detective. If you’re just going to upload a resume cold to a company, the odds are just terrible. But if you decide to become a detective and take the hours or the day or two to figure out how am I going to speak to an actual human being at that company, not human resources. I hope they’re not listening. They’re not going to love me after they hear this podcast. Not human resources, but if there’s six degrees of Kevin Bacon, I like to tell people, cut that down to one degree of Kevin Bacon. If Kevin Bacon is the hiring manager, how are you going to talk to Kevin or one person separated from him at that company, in order to do the thing that you baked into your question? Which is you want to get some information about what’s really going on there, beyond what’s on the digital page, before you can really kick ass in the interview.

 

Rob’s Thoughts on Why Salespeople Need to Be More Intentional About Job Applications · [08:16]

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And I guess it’s even more appropriate for salespeople than if we are a marketer trying to break into marketing, right? Tell me if I’m wrong here, but it seems like if I’m a kick-ass marketer and I start ringing VPs of marketing, the VP’s going to be like, “Okay, send your resume over to HR or add me on LinkedIn and we’ll chat about it online.” Versus if you can get on a call with a hiring sales manager, sales leader, and you can really wow them on the call, you’re demonstrating your skillset right there and then. So, is it fair to say then that this is even more appropriate as an approach for sales people than it is for other people in whatever industry or kind of segment?

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes, 100 times yes. I mean, I like to use this analogy for, over here in the baseball analogy, would be-

 

Will Barron:

This might go totally past me, Rob. You might go right over my head with your baseball analogy.

 

“When COVID hit, we started recommending to all of our clients that you should come much stronger with content, ideas, specifics, and with the proof that you’ve done more homework about this company than any other candidate. Come with all that in the beginning before you were even asked, because what the company wants to hear now is what are you going to do to make them money, right? And the people who offer that early on are the people who have the better chance of going through at least more than one dreaded 30 minute interview.” – Rob Barnett · [09:47]

 

Rob Barnett:

I know, I know. Steal second base before even the first pitch is thrown. Because, in old days, you’d be lucky to go through multiple interviews. And then maybe as one of the final steps, you’re asked to put your ideas in writing and really impress them with either the dreaded PowerPoint presentation or just a plain Word document that’s got all of what you have to say to pitch yourself for this job. When COVID hit, we started recommending to all of our clients that you should come much stronger with content, with ideas, with specifics, with the proof that you’ve done more homework about this company than any other candidate. Come with all that in the beginning before you were even asked, because what the company wants to hear now is what are you going to do to make them money, right? And the people who offer that early on are the people who have the better chance of going through at least more than one dreaded 30 minute interview.

 

How to Stand Out From the Competition During Job Applications · [10:27] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So, let’s get practical here. What does it look like to do this very literally? So, we can touch on perhaps the calling up of the hiring manager in a second, or adding them on LinkedIn, communicating, chatting with them. We’ll touch on that in a second. But do we need to create a… Rather than just sending over and filling in the online application form, do we need to then send the hiring manager some kind of application pack with 30, 60, 90 day plans and things like that? How do we very literally separate ourselves from the competition here?

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes. Well, look, the cover letters, too, like we said earlier, they tend to all be written by the exact same person. I’ll perform one for you now. Hi, Will. Or if I haven’t done that, it’s to whom it may concern, right? To whom it may concern. I’m very interested to see the job that you’ve posted for blankety-blankety-blank, because I am an award-winning salesperson with 15 years of experience and a proven track record at great oral and written communication skills. I have a demonstrated history of say… These cover letters are not cutting it now. And so what we recommend people do is homework. Hours and hours and hours on what that company is doing so that in the first thing they read about you, they’re going to read the resume. So, why is the cover letter a copy of the resume in long sentences?

 

Rob Barnett:

I’d rather that that first letter that’s written to the company be, “I’ve watched what you’ve been doing for this last year, and it seems as though the priorities of the business are X, Y, and Z. In my last job, I’ve worked on X, I’ve done Y, I’ve done Z. Are you interested in considering this?” In other words, bring the ideas, bring the content, bring the feedback on what you think that company is doing well, and then go ahead and take the risk and talk about what you think that company needs to do better. Bold is beautiful.

 

Rob Reveals What Happens Behind the Scenes After You Apply for a Job · [12:45] 

 

Will Barron:

Can you explain, because you kind of alluded to this earlier on with the 23 year old intern maybe sifting through some of these. What happens when we send off our resume, whether it’s an online form, whether we send it off as a Word doc or whatever it is. What happens when it goes into this black hole and then we may or may not hear back out the other end of it?

 

“I think people are obsessed with algorithms now, and there’s this belief that if I just write the phrase, let’s say, data analysis three times on my resume, it’s going to get magically found by the system and then it’s going to end up on the desk of the chief executive at that company. I’m much less concerned about being found by a robot as I’m concerned about finding people who can make the introduction that’s needed. That warm introduction between myself, the candidate and that hiring manager. So, if you don’t know people in that company, you’re going to try to make those connections on LinkedIn, but then you’re going to try and turn something that’s cold into something that’s warm.” – Rob Barnett · [13:06]

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes. I think people are obsessed with algorithms now. And there’s this belief that if I just write the phrase data analysis three times on my resume, it’s going to get magically found by the system and then it’s going to end up on the desk of the chief executive at that company. I’m much less concerned about being found by a robot as I’m concerned about finding people who can make the introduction that’s needed, the warm introduction between myself the candidate and that hiring manager. And whatever it takes to do that… I mean, yes, you might… If you don’t know people, as you say, you’re going to try to make those connections on LinkedIn, but then you’re going to try and turn something that’s cold into something that’s warm.

 

Rob Barnett:

Maybe it’s a simple request to somebody else who works at the company. And you say, “Look, I’m applying for a job there. If you have a minute… You probably don’t have 20 minutes to talk, but I’ve got three questions to ask you on an email that would be so helpful to give me a shot at getting this job.” Then ask three probing questions. When you’ve got those answers, you can now say, “I connected with so-and-so at the company, and I understand that X, Y, and Z. You’ve got to get into the dialogue some way with people who work there, because if you’re just wishing that you’re going to be discovered by a robot, I don’t like those odds.

 

Will Barron:

I love it. I agree. And clearly you’re the expert here, but you’re mirroring my experience getting into medical device sales, which was extremely competitive at the time. And I’m sure it’s even more competitive right now. My approach of all of this was, if I’m filling in an online form, if I’m sending off a resume, CV, I’ve failed. I’m now just a needle in the haystack, as you described it here, Rob. So, perhaps you can critique some of the way… In fact, even better. Let’s go one step further, Rob. Let’s say salesman.org, the training product, the podcasts, the advertising, everything goes to complete shit. Everything is dried up, and I’ve got a mortgage to pay, we’ve got a commercial mortgage to pay on this building, we’ve got staff to pay. I’m going to have to, just maybe for a year, two years, whatever it is, I’m going to have to go back and get a sales job, Rob.

 

How to Stand Out When Applying for an Extremely Competitive Job · [15:50]

 

Will Barron:

And let’s narrow it down. I want to go back to medical device sales. So, there’s only a handful of companies that I want to be involved in, because I enjoy the product services and I want to sell those. And perhaps that’s a conversation for later on of whether we should settle, whether we should go for the job that we really want. We’ll touch on that at the end of the show. What do I need to do, Rob? If there’s four companies that I want to work for, do I need to start courting these managers now before I want the job, or am I waiting for a job opening to appear? What do I do if I want to move into this very competitive space?

 

Rob Barnett:

Oh, this is such a great question. There’s so many things packed into this, that I’m going to try, in this bald head, to not forget at least three things that you opened up. The first thing I heard you open up is that you’ve had this background. Like, my neighbour does, right here in the great state of New Jersey, in medical equipment, right? That’s been your background. So, the first thing you said to me, as a head hunter, gave me two big thumbs up, which is you’re going back where your expertise lies. That’s great. Then the second thing that you opened up in my mind is, do I start trying to warm those contacts up whether or not there is an opening there so that I’m warm for a future opening? Or do I wait until there’s an actual job? I love this question. This question comes up all the time and I’ve actually changed my answer during COVID.

 

Rob Barnett:

My answer now, with all of us having one of the hardest, if not the hardest, times of our lives is that I’ve been counselling clients to drop the whole, “Can we meet? Can we chat? Can we have coffee? I’m a friend of so-and-so, they told me to call you.” The end result of almost all of those conversations when there isn’t an opening is, “Will, you sound like a great guy. Listen, I don’t have anything now.” Say it with me, “But I will definitely keep you in mind if there’s an opening.” I think it’s a much better move, during the dark times, to wait. Wait until you know there’s an opening and pounce then, because now there’s a real cadence to this thing. It’s really specific, it’s on. But it raises the third and final thing I wanted to share in this answer.

 

Rob Barnett:

There’s a conspiracy theory in people’s minds about jobs, and I hear it every day, and I am here to shoot this conspiracy theory down. People say, “Well, job listings are bullshit. You’re never really going to know if there really is a job or not. The company’s not going to list the job. They’re just going to hire somebody internally.” I’m the guy to say not true. Not true. My experience is that when a job becomes real, that company must post the job, and even if they know they’re going to hire Will anyway, they’ve got to go through the motions of putting that job up online so that other candidates can come in. So, I just want to say that this whole conspiracy theory about job listings are bullshit. No, they’re there. And then at that moment when the job is listed, that’s the time to pounce.

 

The Secret Source to Finding the Right Jobs Online · [19:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there any secret source to finding these job listings or especially when we talk more about the enterprise side of things, large businesses as opposed to small, medium size companies. Did they all go on monster.com? Did they all end up on these job sites? Is there anything else that we need to do or is it okay just to monitor those websites?

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes. I think that this is a important piece of the conversation. A targeted company search is really going to say, look, in your example, there are only these medical device companies where I will logically land. Therefore, I’m going to go on all those company sites, I’m going to set up alerts, I’m going to set up Google alerts. I’m going to go on LinkedIn, I’m going to set up job alerts for those specific companies so that the moment anyone on my targeted list is looking, I’m pouncing.

 

Is Now (Post Pandemic) A Good Time to Quit Your Current Job and Risk Going After the Job of Your Dreams? · [20:36]

 

Will Barron:

What happens? This is going to be massively subjective, right? But what happens if we’re working… Right now, as we record this, hopefully coming out of the global pandemic, especially the UK, the US, Europe, and other parts of the world where the vaccines are being rolled out, right? So, hopefully, there’s an end insight for some of us that are fortunate. What do we do, Rob, if we’re in a role and we’re like, “Right, I hate this freaking job. This job sucks.” But it’s a terrible time to try and change careers, change jobs, change positions right now. Say we’ve took your advice, Rob. We’ve set up notifications on LinkedIn, we’re monitoring these job sites, even if we’ve somewhat automated it, we’re not checking every day, but something crops up. It’s a medical advice company that we’ve always aspired to work towards, they have the best products. We’ve been competing against them, Rob. We’ve been competing against them and they kick our ass every time because they have the best products. We want to work there. Is now a good time to risk moving from one job to another? Is there ever a good time to do it? What I’m saying is, is there a big enough upside to risk kind of making these kind of moves right now? Or is it time that we kind of rest on our laurels and just suck it up and get on with it?

 

Rob Barnett:

Wow. What a great question. I think that I came up with a simple little trick in my brain, in my long 40 plus years of working somewhere. The device is called the alarm. And when the alarm goes off in the morning, whether it’s 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, whenever you like, there’s that moment in your mind between sleep and full consciousness where you have this sort of gut feeling, do I want to get up and go to this fricking job or not? And if you start waking and having those bad, bad feelings that say, “I don’t want this day to happen, I don’t want this job,” then that’s the deepest message your subconscious can possibly give you that you are not in the right spot. Now, your next question is, what happens if unemployment is raging? What happens if, God forbid, another virus hits us? I mean, would I take the risk of leaving what appears to be secure for something that I’m craving in my aortic muscles which says there’s got to be something better out there? Depends on your level of risk.

 

“Carefully obey what your subconscious is telling you. If there’s something better out there then go for it, but go for it without blowing what you’ve got. Because if you’ve got something that’s keeping the roof over your head, even though you secretly wish you shouldn’t be there, then carefully spend some time trying to better your situation. And let’s face it, you’re certainly more hireable when you’re in a job than you are when you’re on your butt because your value is greater” – Rob Barnett · [23:34] 

 

Rob Barnett:

You’re talking to a risk taker. I’ve taken risks my whole life, I would say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Carefully obey what your subconscious is telling you, which is there’s something better out there and go for it, but go for it without blowing what you’ve got, right? Because if you’ve got something that’s keeping the roof over your head, even though you secretly wish you shouldn’t be there, then carefully, carefully, carefully spend some time trying to better your situation. And let’s face it, last point, you’re certainly more hireable when you’re in a job than you are when you’re on your butt.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Rob Barnett:

So, your value is greater.

 

Will Barron:

There’s two things here that come to mind as I asked that question. And me and you are probably aligned on this. You seem the same. I’m a massive optimist. So, I would hesitate to tell someone to change jobs if they changed jobs 6 months ago, 12 months ago, and they’ve been job hopping for months on end, or years on end, right? Clearly, the job isn’t the issue. It’s the fact that you’ve got shiny object syndrome or you feel the grass is always greener on the other side. I know from data wise, it takes about 6 to 8 months to ramp up a sales rep. And so if you are only in your job for 12 months, you’re only just coming around to being trained, informed, and engaging central customers, especially in longer, complex B2B or what I was doing, business to government sales. There is an element of, you’ve got to hunker down just for a year or two, just to see what the deal actually is.

 

Will Barron:

But I’m a massive optimistic and I’m a massive risk taker as well, Rob. So, I think it was Steve Jobs who said if you do something every day for 60 days and every day you think this is stupid and you hate it, it’s time for a change. That’s how Steve jobs would frame things up. And someone else said this on the podcast before, of if something isn’t… You should eliminate yeses, and you should only do no and hells yes. If there’s something in between, it’s not a good fit for you. And you should say no to it. So, clearly, I massively appreciate this and I know you do as well, and that’s if you’ve got a job, you’ve got responsibilities, there’s kids, there’s mortgage, wherever it is, at some points in all our lives, we’ve just got to get our head down and get through them.

 

Will Barron:

But with that not on the table, or you’ve got a bit of cash in an emergency fund, or you’ve got a bit of savings, I would encourage people that life is so short that you have to be pushing towards… Not necessarily your dream job, because I want to be a Formula 1 racing car driver. That’s never going to happen. But maybe I could do ad sales for the F1 and spend a load of time with the teams and that side of things. So, anything else to add on that point, Rob, before we move on, on this idea of aspiring for more with our careers and our jobs?

 

Rob Barnett:

Well, for us, the most important chapter in our book is chapter four. It’s called your north star. And because life is too short, I believe that there is an actual logical way to answer the deepest question most people have in their career, which is, I know what’s in my heart, I know what I want to do. Can I do it? Can I be a ballerina? No, I’m just kidding.

 

Will Barron:

I believe in you, Rob, I believe in you, mate.

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes. I can! So, we try to encourage people, as much as possible, to go through this three step process in answering the greatest question of all, which is… You called it the dream job, I just call it the north star. Can I have it? Can I really have what I want? The first question that you ask yourself is a spiritual one. It’s in your heart. It says, “Look, what do I really want to be doing? If I’m going to be spending 8, 9, 10, 12, for me, sometimes too many more hours a day doing this thing, am I allowed to do the thing I love?” The answer to that question should always be yes. But now the next question is, can you do it? Can you do it? Because these awful people come into your brain next, I call them the no police. They’re going to give you a million reasons why you can’t be a ballerina, you stupid idiot.

 

“The most important step in figuring out whether you can have the job that you want the most is about proving it. And proving it gets us right back to the damn resume and the damn LinkedIn. There has to be enough R&R, recency and repetition. So, recency and repetition that you’ve done this job not just once, but you’ve done it recently and repeatedly in order to make the entire pitch credible.” – Rob Barnett · [28:31] 

 

Rob Barnett:

Well, the second step, once you have this feeling of what you know in your heart, the second step is much more logical. You’ve got to go into your brain and say, am I truly great at doing this? As much self-awareness as I’ve got, am I truly great at doing this? Is this one of my superpowers or is it just a vague notion? Is it a wish? Is there some evidence that I’ve done this before? The third and final step in figuring out whether you can have the job that you want the most, is about proving it. And proving it gets us right back to the damn resume and the damn LinkedIn. There has to be enough R&R, recency and relevancy. Sorry, recency and repetition. That R&R. Recency and repetition, that you’ve done this job not just once, but you’ve done it recently and repeatedly in order to make the entire pitch credible, right?

 

“I hate the phrase, “I have transferable skills.” That’s a no-no. That’s saying, “Trust me, I can do it even though I haven’t really done it.” I don’t think people should use that phrase in an interview. If I ask you a hard question about whether or not you’ve been a ballerina and the answer is no, then the answer in that interview should be no.” – Rob Barnett · [29:37] 

 

Rob Barnett:

The first part of the pitch is the easiest. You know you’re going to sound great going for this job because it’s what you love. The second is where all your confidence lives. It’s, look, I know I can do this. I am a ballerina. And then the third. The third is you got to prove it. You got to prove it. There’s got to be real clear evidence. I hate the phrase, by the way, going for jobs, I hate the phrase, “I have transferable skills.” That’s a no-no. That’s saying, “Trust me, I can do it even though I haven’t really done it.” I don’t think people should use that phrase in an interview. If I ask you a hard question about whether or not you’ve been a ballerina and the answer is no, then the answer in that interview should be no.

 

How to Get as Close as Possible to Your Aspirational Job · [30:06] 

 

Will Barron:

What do you say, Rob? Because everything you just said is logical, makes total sense, and a lot of aspirational jobs, dream roles, I imagine… And you can tell me if I’m wrong here, say like I did want to work in the F1. Well, I would probably start some kind of F1 podcast, which would allow me to network with people in the space and I’m suited to podcasting, so that would be my kind of way in and format. I might build an audience, and maybe that’ll get me in a few meetings and in a few conversations. So, what I’m saying is, perhaps with these more aspirational roles, these dream roles, if we don’t have the experience, we need to do this extracurricularly, and do this out of office hours over the course of maybe even a few years before we even get the opportunity to have conversations about jobs and roles. Am I right on the right tracks with that so far?

 

“I’m a big believer in something that I’m simply calling the straight line theory. It means that if you know where you want to end up, if you know you want to be the most famous actor in all of Hollywood, then you actually shouldn’t be working as a tax accountant on the side, you should be figuring out how to work in accounting on a film set, right? Because that will eventually lead you in a straight line to the secret role of being an actor, right? You’ve got to be around those people. I just don’t believe that it’s a good idea to say, “Well, I’ve got to make money. I’ve got to keep a roof over my head, so I’m doing this thing that has absolutely nothing to do with what my soul really wants to do.” – Rob Barnett · [31:13] 

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes, and, as they say in improv comedy. Yes, and. Because one way of doing it, as you say, is on your off hours, right? That you’re going to spend time on the weekends figuring out how to get into that industry. But I also am a big believer in something that I’m simply calling the straight line theory. It means that if you know where you want to end up, if you know you want to be the most famous actor in all of Hollywood, then you actually shouldn’t be working as a tax accountant on the side, you should be figuring out how to work in accounting on a film set, right? Because that will eventually lead you in a straight line to the secret, secret role of being an actor, right? You’ve got to be around those people. I just don’t believe that it’s a good idea to say, “Well, I’ve got to make money. I’ve got to keep a roof over my head, so I’m doing this thing that has absolutely nothing to do with what my soul really wants to do.”

 

Rob Barnett:

I think it’s better to take less money in a lower job title working in that correct lane and betting on yourself and saying, “Look, I’m not ready to have the job that I really want as far as title and money goes. But if I get there for a year and show them all that I’m worthy, I’ll move up.” But now I’m moving up in the right straight line and I’m not seven countries away.

 

Will Barron:

I agree. And so I might… Just about to decimate my audience and ruin my own business, but a lot of people fall into sales roles. Various few people, when they’re young, go, “Hey, I want to sell accounting software to accountants.” It doesn’t happen, right? We all want to be… I mentioned… Maybe there’s Freudian going on. “Oh, it’s because the F1 season’s just about to start. The Formula 1. That’s why it’s obviously top of mind.” But when I’m a kid, I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot and I was too tall, I’m 6 foot 3. I would literally not fit in the jet. So, that was written off. The RAF was written out of my life. And then similarly with Formula 1 and professional racing, you have to start when you’re like three in a go-kart. And I was only having these conclusions when I was 13, 14, 15, thinking about careers. So, that was totally out of the… Not necessarily out of the picture, but the highest level is out of the picture.

 

Is It Possible to Start From the Bottom and Make it to the Top in Today’s Job Environment? · [33:40] 

 

Will Barron:

So, you’ve answered the question I was going to ask you, which was, what do we do when our dream job says that they want to have experience and we don’t have the experience? You get in an adjacent role, you get in the organisation, you hustle and bustle kind of your way to get a grain of experience, which then you can expand on over time. But final thing I want to ask you, Rob, and again, especially when we’re dealing with perhaps the enterprise here, large organisations, is it still possible to work your way up, like seemingly you used to be able to do 20, 30 years ago where you start in the mail room and you work hard and you end up the CEO and your story’s told on the front of Time magazine. Is that career progression within large organisations, and smaller organisations, whatever it is, is it still possible? Is that mobility available to people? Because I see less and less people that I engage with, even kind of the leadership that I engage with within these organisations as well, less and less people are staying companies for 10, 20 years. Everyone seems to be jumping around more often than not.

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes. There’s no question that the average amount of years in a job has lessened over time. I think we all have DNA in ourselves from our parents and our grandparents that have this rule that you’re supposed to get somewhere and stay somewhere for as long as possible. That’s the one thing that drives most of my readers and my clients crazy, is this terrible feeling that the job just isn’t going to last more than a few years. I believe that, if it still is your true desire to stay put, it can last longer, but only if you’re willing to accept something that upset me greatly when I first learned it. I was working in this really cool job long time ago at MTV when it was the new, new thing and it was the coolest place in the world. And we just felt like we were on top of the world when we worked there. That’s how it looked like from the outside.

 

Rob Barnett:

From the inside, people used to say, you know what it’s really like working here? It’s like going out with the hottest looking person on earth that treats you like shit. That’s what people used to say. And what that really meant is that, like most companies, it had its fair share of politics, internal politics, right? She said, he said, they said. Why can’t I do this? And so this guy took me out to a meal in my early weeks working there, and he said, “Look, I’m going to give you a little lesson. You better learn this. Half of the time you’re going to spend here is doing the actual work that you’ve been hired to do. The other half of the time is going to be spent focusing on the people and all the relationships to keep them as strong as they can possibly be politically. Because if not, you’re never going to make it here.”

 

Rob Barnett:

And I hated the whole sound of office politics. It just was disgusting to me. But I think that over time, I’ve realised that unfortunately half of our mind has to be based on, are Will and Rob getting along or are they secretly hating each other? And if they’re secretly hating each other, we’ve got a choice, right? We’re going to have to figure out how to fix it and reset this thing, or it’s just a matter of time and it’s going to go south. So, so much of the reason, I think, why jobs don’t last is because I secretly did something 15 minutes ago in this interview that pissed you off, and then we’re never going to talk about it. But it’s there, it’s real, it happened. And then if you’re my boss, it’s going to lead to my demise.

 

Will Barron:

I love this. I love you being so frank and open about it. I’ve talked about it on the podcast in the past. My biggest flaw in all the medical device sales roles I’ve been in, wasn’t the ability to sell, it wasn’t the ability to hit quota, it wasn’t the ability to have customers that liked me and wanted me to return and be in the operating room with them. There’s a low [inaudible 00:38:15] here. I would spend every Friday from like 1:00, 2:00 till 7:00, 8:00 PM in the… And just be chilling, hanging out with surgeons, having a great time, and they were my best customer. And one of the biggest accounts for this, the last company that I worked for, my issue was my internal stakeholders. My boss thought I was a bit of an idiot.

 

Will Barron:

I don’t know, whether he thought I was thick or just not… How to describe it? I didn’t do very well with taking criticism, in which I would not complain, shout, bitch, moan. I would just sit there and just go… And basically let it ping off me and ignore me. Now, this led to issues with the sales manager and eventually the national sales manager, because they both were trying to tell me off for things. And they thought nothing was sinking in and nothing was going through, when really I was taking what they said on board and processing it and improving my game and improving myself. But I give them just so little feedback that they were getting stressed out about, they were questioning their own managerial skills because they thought they weren’t getting anywhere with me.

 

Will Barron:

And it was only on the exit interview that the national sales manager, he massively shifted. And he was like, “Hey, Will, I’m so excited that you’re starting in the company. I’m really proud of you. I’ve always wanted to start a business, but I’ve never had the… I’ve never had the nuts to do it myself. We’re all dead happy for you.” And I was like, “You’ve got any feedback for me?” Because this was a shock. We’d gone from this relationship of them basically telling me off all the time, even though I thought I was doing the right thing, I was hitting my target. My customers liked me. And I said, “What feedback have you got?” And he’s like, “Just be a little bit more open and allow a bit more of conversation about when we’re engaging with you. Don’t take things personally.”

 

How to Handle Internal and External Politics When Trying to Move Up the Corporate Ladder · [40:50] 

 

Will Barron:

Now, if he would’ve maybe had been a better manager and told me this three years prior so I could’ve actioned it, that would’ve helped me. If I’d been less stubborn and thick and seen it coming and had more self-awareness, I would’ve had a better relationship with them. But all my stresses in that last sales job with the internal politics of sales management, sales leadership being on my back, the things that didn’t exist, because I was always hitting target and my customers were always happy. And so I engineered this problem into myself and I would’ve never had career progression in that company because the layer above me thought I was a great salesperson… I’m assuming they thought I was a great salesperson, but they didn’t think I was the… They didn’t think I was leadership material because, again, I didn’t have that ability to look inside, see what the problem was, and make shifts on it. So, I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but I think that’s so valuable to just to have this understanding that, especially in sales, you’ve got internal stakeholders and they’re just as important as your external ones aren’t they?

 

Rob Barnett:

It’s amazing it is. And you know, it’s this tiny little mistakes that may or may not have happened in actuality that are perceived to be great offences. But if they’re never discussed, they can create the end of a job. I wrote about this in the book. There was a time when I had to send a message to my boss, and I had a longstanding relationship with the manager above her. It’s an old friend. We’re all friendly, right? So, when I sent the message, I sent it to my boss and I copied the big boss. Well, like you said, it was maybe only about a year or two later that I found out this person was hating me. They were hating me because they thought that I was trying to do some kind of backstabbing kind of thing. There was no ill will in what I did. It was just a mistake. It was a mistake. Well, I definitely shouldn’t have done it. It ended up getting me fired.

 

Rob Barnett:

But it was that small thing that, left out of conversation, turns into something much, much bigger. So, the last point on it is, if you’re working for a manager that’s been terrible at giving you feedback, if you know you should have had an annual review and it’s been a year and four months and you never have the review, I think we all have to ask management for a check-in. We have to say, “Hey, would it be possible?” No agenda. “No, I’m not leaving. I’m not quitting. I’m not bugging you for a raise. Can we just get together next Thursday? I want to just make sure I’m on track,” right? Just a check-in because that’ll save you from oblivion sometimes.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. And look, these people are your assets and on your side, hopefully, when you do change roles. If you leave on great terms, maybe there is references, maybe they can post on your LinkedIn page, which we didn’t even get to. We didn’t even get to other strategic LinkedIn stuff.

 

Rob Barnett:

Oh, we didn’t get to that stuff.

 

Why You Need to Ask for Reviews and Recommendations From Your Former Managers · [43:16] 

 

Will Barron:

We’ll have you back on in the future, Rob, to dive into all this in more detail. But even I know I’ve done load of deals on the back of a few quotes and references from previous customers. There’s no reason why you couldn’t get quotes, references, something like that from a manager that you’ve got a great relationship with. And look, if your sales manager puts together a quote, a 15 second video saying, “Hey, this sales rep has done this, this, and this. They’re reliable. They’re this, they that.” That must have massive impact if we can include this on our outreach to a potential hiring manager, is that right?

 

“It’s easier to ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn from a great former colleague than it is to ask to borrow money, but the recommendation, which most goodhearted people are willing to give, can go a long way at making you more money.” – Rob Barnett · [44:05] 

 

Rob Barnett:

It has a great deal of impact on future customers when they hear it not from you, but from people that have great regard for the work that you’ve done. It’s so important. I said someplace in the book, it’s easier to ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn from a great former colleague than it is to ask to borrow money, but the recommendation, which most goodhearted people are willing to give, can go a long way at making you more money. It really does. It helps tremendously. There’s a lot of people that don’t even use those on LinkedIn, but it’s very, very important. And one last trick about it, too, since you asked, if you and I worked for somebody 10 years ago and we had a great, great successful experience, if that person writes the recommendation for you today on LinkedIn, it populates with today’s date. So, it’s the most current thing that anyone will see on your profile, even though the goodness happened 10 years ago.

 

Parting Thoughts · [44:10]

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Oh, that’s super practical. I enjoyed that. Rob. That’s a great way to wrap up this episode. With that, mate, tell us where we can find… We’ve alluded to it, but tell us what we can find more about you and of course the book as well.

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes. Thank you. Well, all the voodoo that we do is at robbarnettmedia.com. There’s a link for the book there as well. The book is called Next Job, Best Job: A Headhunter’s 11 Strategies to Get Hired Now. And you can buy it everywhere that you buy a book. Either hardcover, E-book or the audio coming out of my big fat mouth.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing. Are you doing… Or have you done the audiobook yourself?

 

Rob Barnett:

Yes, sir.

 

Will Barron:

I love it. Well, congratulations, because I hate getting a book, especially someone as charismatic and as entertaining as yourself, and you get it an audiobook and then it’s some professional speaker who you’ve not really got that relationship with. So, that’ll be amazing. I’ll check out the audiobook as well myself. And with that, Rob, I want to thank you for your time, your insights. [inaudible 00:46:05] just mention the show notes over at salesman.org. And I want to thank you again for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Rob Barnett:

Thank you so much, Will, it’s really great to talk to you.

Table of contents
100% Free sales assessment:
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sellers?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Don't get left behind.
22_LINKEDIN SUCCESS FRAMEWORK (3) 1
Do you have the 15 traits of high performing sales people?
Learn your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. Taken by over 10,000+ of your competitors. Don't get left behind.
22_LINKEDIN SUCCESS FRAMEWORK (3) 1