Woe The Digital Sale: Have I Jumped Too Often?

Question from a seller: I keep hearing that the market is heating up, and I'm starting to get calls for interviews.  What is weird is that companies are questioning why I have been a seller for so many different companies in the past years.  Isn't it expected in the Internet business that people jump around?   How can I position myself as the best candidate in light of these questions?

Amy says:  Yes, it is expected that people jump from company to company in our business. We know agency turnover is a big issue that affects everyone.  But we never really hear that much about those agency candidates, and if their commitment issues are a turn-off to the folks interviewing them.  

Most agencies have several positions they are trying to fill at any given time.  And managing a digital team, keeping them happy, making sure they are keeping clients happy and keeping them from resigning is a delicate balance.  You have to hire folks quickly to avoid a mass exodus -- but not hire someone everyone is going to hate and quit because they can't take dealing with that person.



But you can't run a business with a revolving door of key people.  The economy is not really getting any better.  Job growth is slow overall so hiring mangers want to get it done right the first time to hunker down as things begin to get better.  On the surface, job-hopping looks like when the going got tough, you got going.  You have to address that head-on!

If interviewers want to know why you changed companies so often, be honest.  Admit if you got caught up in a situation beyond your control.  People with any real sense of our industry will understand If an account walks out the door that you were supposed to lead,  If it's your fault, or what you would call a personality conflict, make sure you have a well-formulated, thought-out answer. 

 Sometimes when we look back on decisions we have made at work from an objective perspective, we realize what we could have done better.  Be ready to share what happened -- without any bitterness and as succinctly as possible -- and what you have learned from the experience. Reference specific situations from recent work that demonstrate you are using what you learned.  That authenticity will go a long way.

That's what I would hope an agency candidate would help me understand.  A lot goes wrong in our business, and you want someone who knows what they doing.  Overall, I'll take a great person for a year or two versus having a mediocre employee for years.

 In sales, though, you may not have the luxury to give someone time when quarterly goals come and go.  Jason, is our salesperson in trouble?

Jason says: Jump around? Heck yes, you should, as long as this is what you mean. Pack it up. Pack it in. Let me begin. I came to win. Battle me? That's a sin.

But if "House of Pain" is not on your iPod, your exhilaration is misguided. A lengthy resume does not equal a quality resume. The last thing I want to see is someone who has had many jobs and has failed to put down roots anywhere. It is a function of wanting to see someone who can work to build value within an organization, not just someone who can shift every two years to the highest bidder. We already have hired guns in our business. They are called consultants. For sales organizations, we actually prefer stability (think "Solid as a Rock," ala Ashford & Simpson). Here are a few reasons why:

1.     Good companies on the supply side are very proud of the products they build and want to have people with similar pride representing those products.

2.     When you have a highly developed product, it is not easily understood in just a few weeks. In some cases, it may take six months just to feel comfortable with all the products you have in your arsenal.

3.   Once you completely understand the products, only then do you really have the confidence to present them adequately to the marketplace.

4.     You are only able to offer true solutions to problems (instead of just filling insertion orders) when you have a handle on your products and your clients' needs.

5.     It takes a long enough time to truly understand what your company has to offer when it is your job. Imagine how the other side feels. We want our representatives to be able to help our clients through the process effectively -- and that can't happen if all of the above are not met.

6.     We like it when clients see the same person representing our company for a good amount of time. That continuity is a very strong illustration of the value we deliver.

7.     Lastly, and most importantly, turnover costs money. Finding new employees, hiring and training is a wildly expensive proposition.

If you haven't managed to stay in one job for a long time (for example, 4+ years), don't despair. There are lots of jobs out there, and someone will always give you a chance. Just be honest, keep the above in mind and strive to find a new place that can be your home for the foreseeable future. You, your employer and the industry will all be better off for it.

As always, I am happy to dispense advice, because, as Everlast says: I got more rhymes than the bibles got psalms.

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