The “S” Word

Unemployment is higher than it has been since our grandparents were kids. No matter how hot our industry may be, this can do bad things to your career path. Our team is working on some very interesting positions, but there is no doubt that there are far fewer positions open now than there were a year ago. There are also more people on the market than there were a year ago. Each position is also taking 2-3x longer to fill because of extra steps in the approval process, extra interviews during the hiring process, extra everything…

Last year we were advising people on how to “build your personal brand” and “make yourself visible”.

This year strong brands and visibility are great, but they can fall short when you have to land that next job or that next contract gig. This year you have to take another step – you have to ask for the work. Yes, this year you have to Sell yourself.

It is not hard, but most people did not get into web analytics because they have a special passion for sales. Most would probably also say that they are not very good at selling.

I have been selling since I was a teenager and all that time I have been following the principles of Strategic Selling, the first and only “sales book” I have ever read. The book was written by two guys – Miller and Heiman. They made bank by turning it into training seminars, a consulting practice and a catalog full of books.

Borrowing heavily from those gentlemen I have outlined a paint-by-numbers process for selling yourself into this market. There are no tough concepts and no tough tasks below. The only challenge is that you have to actually DO it.

First some basic terms:

Suspects: An individual at a company that could present a job now or in the future. Suspects are what you put into the top of your sales funnel. They are generally people that you have not yet contacted. You should always be looking for suspects and have a simple system for storing and organizing them (Outlook?).
Prospects: Suspects that respond to your email, phone call or smoke signal. They agree to speak with you or meet with you about a job.
Offers: Kind of speaks for itself – someone offers you a job…
Jobs: You accept the offer

  • Do the math. In general, you will need ten to twenty prospects for every suspect. You will need ten to twenty suspects for every offer. You will need two offers for every job.
    • How many jobs do you need this year?
    • Now… how many suspects do you need to generate each day/week/month?
  • Putting suspects in the funnel: Once you figure out how many suspects need to go into the top of the funnel to make the right number of jobs come out the bottom, get to work finding suspects.
    • Where to find suspects: Everywhere. Reading (blogs, articles, newsletters, etc.), Events (web analytics Wednesdays, emetrics, Omniture summit, etc.), Linkedin, Jigsaw, Spoke, job ads, WAA website, Web Analytics Demystified website, IQ Workforce website, networking with colleagues…
    • Capture the contact info and start filling your suspect book or folder. You should capture the following info for each suspect: company name, contact name, contact Info (as much as you can get), where you found them and when/how you contacted them (phone, email, telepathy). Each individual person is a separate suspect.
    • Email or call each suspect and mark them in your calendar for a follow-up in 30-days. If you have not heard anything back from the suspect in three attempts you can take them out of your suspect book.
    • Corry’s Rule: All Suspects are Created Equal. Corry’s rule is sometimes phrased this way instead: There is no such thing as a hot suspect. Do not spend too much time evaluating and prioritizing your suspects. I will save you the trouble: you don’t know where your next job will come from.
  • Your goal is to generate as many prospects as you can. Relationships are currency. Even the most mundane phone call is an opportunity to network through that individual. Connect with them on LinkedIn, go after THEIR network…
  • Have your product ready: Your Linkedin profile, your resume, your personal home page, your portfolio, your reference letters, etc. Get a 2nd opinion on all of them from someone that you do not go to bed with at night and make them look great.
  • Know what you want to say. Tell them what you can do for them now or in the future. Tell them why you want to know them and why you think they should know you. Make it clear that this is not your first Rodeo…
  • Have your priorities straight from the start. You should know what is most important and evaluate your offers using the written list of priorities that you made before you had an offer and pressure to make a decision. Money, quality of life, challenge (what type), learning (what type), fun, flexibility…
  • 2-3 part-time jobs can be better than one full-time. Can be more hours, can charge a premium, less risk (if one suddenly ends you still have the others), greater variety, build skills and get broader experience faster, etc.
  • Find new ways to follow up. If you read a good article or blog post somewhere, use it as a follow-up item that you can send to as many appropriate suspects and prospects as possible. Don’t keep sending the “have anything yet??” email…

As you can see, there is no rocket science here. The hardest part is breaking from the usual pattern of making yourself visible and waiting for work to come to you. You have to shift gears from marketing yourself to selling yourself. Don’t think of selling as a dirty, pride swallowing exercise. Think of it as practicing a new set of skills for an hour or so each day. In 2009, you are shifting professions – you are no longer a farmer (planting seeds and waiting for your crop to grow) – you are a hunter. You have to go out and kill what you are going to eat. This does not mean that you necessarily have to become Shelly “The Machine” Levine, but in my opinion you do have to learn to sell.

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