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Category : Positioning

Job Descriptions: The Good, the Bad, and the Wordy

I’m in the process of recruiting several people for sales positions, so I’ve started to pay more attention to how companies describe these jobs.

After all, the job description is the first place many candidates look (and rightly so). It’s a shame that so many job descriptions are poorly written.

The way I see it, at the recruiting stage of the game, a job description should do two things:

  1. Attract the right candidates
  2. Repel the wrong candidates

To attract the right candidates, the job description must clearly show:

  1. A desirable job
  2. An appealing challenge
  3. An employer of choice
  4. Some context regarding the position

To repel the wrong candidates (and you do want to repel them, in order to save their time and yours), the job description must clearly spell out:

  1. The two or three “must have’s” in terms of prior experience or results delivered in order to be considered for the position
  2. What proof you require of the experience or results

To both attract and repel, the job description must be concise enough that it actually gets read.

Unfortunately, many job descriptions fall short (while simultaneously running much too long).

Here is an example taken directly from a company’s website. To protect the guilty, I’ve deleted all references to the company and its products.

Ask yourself…would this job description entice me to take the next step and contact this company?

Sales Director

In this Senior Management role, you will provide the required Leadership to serve customers by identifying their needs. Responsible for actively driving and managing the evaluation stage of the sales process, working in conjunction with a sales team as the key technical sales advisor and product advocate for our products.

Responsibilities

  • Identifies current and future customer requirements by establishing personal rapport with potential and actual customers and other persons in a position to understand product requirements. Provides product or equipment technical and engineering information by answering client / potential client questions and requests.
  • Must be able to articulate technology and product positioning to both business and technical users.
  • Ability to identify technical issues of new and assigned accounts to assure complete customer satisfaction through all stages of the sales process.
  • Must be able to establish and maintain strong internal and external relationships throughout the sales cycle.
  • Manages the Application function to drive Sales growth and to increase Services revenues.
  • Manages and assigns new Agents as per the Approval Process to drive Sales growth and to increase Customer engagements.
  • Works directly with the Executive Director and the VP of Sales to generate an RFC and Business Plan that meets the ever-changing needs of the business.
  • Establishes new accounts by identifying potential customers; planning and organizing sales call schedules and regularly reporting on sales activities.
  • Prepares cost estimates by studying blueprints, plans, and related customer documents; consults with engineers and other professional and technical personnel.
  • Determines improvements by analyzing cost-benefit ratios of equipment, supplies, or service applications in customer environment; engineering or proposing changes in equipment, processes, or use of materials or services.
  • Gains customer acceptance by explaining or demonstrating cost reductions and operations improvements.
  • Submits orders by conferring with technical support staff; costing engineering changes.
  • Develops customer’s staff by providing technical information and training.
  • Complies with federal, state, and local legal requirements by studying existing and new legislation; anticipating future legislation; advising customer on product, service, or equipment adherence to requirements; advising customer on needed actions.
  • Prepares and delivers sales reports by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing sales information and engineering and application trends.
  • Maintains professional knowledge by attending educational workshops; reviewing professional publications; establishing personal networks; participating in professional societies.
  • Contributes to sales effectiveness by identifying short-term and long-range issues that must be addressed; providing information and commentary pertinent to deliberations; recommending options and courses of action; implementing directives.
  • Contributes to organizational performance by establishing sales targets and reporting on a regular basis as to sales performance relative to those targets.
  • Participates in the development and delivery of product demonstrations.
  • Effectively represents the product[s] to customers and at field events such as conferences, trade shows, etc.
  • Able to respond to functional and technical elements of RFPs
  • Able to effectively convey customer requirements to Product and Service Management teams
  • Able to travel throughout assigned sales territory.

Qualifications 

  • Ideal candidate must be self-motivated with a proven track record in technical sales and knowledge of technology.
  • Comfortable in the dynamic atmosphere of a technical organization desiring to rapidly expand the customer base.
  • Must possess strong presentation skills and be able to communicate professionally in written responses to emails, RFPs, and when submitting reports.
  • Organized and analytical, able to eliminate sales obstacles through creative and adaptive approaches.
  • Must be prepared for extensive travel within the assigned area[s] of responsibility.
  • Sound judgement and good business sense
  • Collaboration skills and the ability to work with and in teams
  • The ability to build and sustain relationships with clients quickly
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Resilience and tenacity
  • Independence
  • 10 + years relevant experience in sales required
  • Experience and familiarity of our products and line of business a plus
  • B.S. in Engineering or a related field is required; an MBA is strongly preferred.

Did you find this job description attractive? My guess is no.

Did you read the whole thing without your eyes glazing over? Again, my bet is no.

Next time, I’ll show you a job description that did attract the right people. It looks very different than the one above.

A Uniquely Effective Positioning Tactic You May Not Have Considered

My last blog post, about positioning, was titled Stand for Something. This blog is about a potentially effective way to position your product or service that you might not have thought about.

A former client of mine was struggling with how to position their flagship product, a multi-hundred thousand-dollar system used in memory manufacturing.

For all intents and purposes, the client’s system was identical to the competitor’s system. Consequently, the client found themselves in a price war for every order because they couldn’t explain why their system was better—on paper, it seemed pretty comparable.

But during the analysis, we learned about one critical component of these systems: a (mostly) hand-made part that weighs more than a ton. No one keeps this part in stock because it a) is massive and b) rarely fails.

But when it does fail, production grinds to a halt. There is no workaround, and the lead time for replacement is approximately 90 days. All that downtime means a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions of dollars.

Unfortunately (for them), the competitor’s product had experienced two such failures over ten years. My client’s product, on the other hand, had never experienced this type of failure.

As you can imagine, this little bit of knowledge was worth a great deal to my client—and my client’s customers. Once we started incorporating this fact into the sales process, my client was able to raise prices by more than 15%, all of which went directly to the client’s bottom line.

When you’re figuring out your positioning, you can and should consider all the good things your product or service does. But it’s also important to consider all the bad things it can help your customers avoid. Sometimes, plain old “peace of mind” is worth a great deal in real dollars and cents.

Next time, I’ll provide some suggestions for effectively positioning various types of analytical equipment.

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