Resume Writing for Sales Positions

A resume targeted for sales positions needs to address one critical performance goal – your ability to contribute to the sales growth of the company.  This goes for business development, account management, customer service, agent/broker, or management positions.  Being responsible for sales is not sufficient. To get attention and get hired, you need to show how you will add to top line revenues, and in turn, bottom line profits.

Sales positions typically have very specific, quantified goals and performance measures. This makes gathering the data of your past contributions easier than in some fields. If your company doesn’t measure you performance, you will need to gather this information yourself.

The first time your resume is read by an employer, the bar is set low. You need to show you have experience in the areas they want and indicate you were successful. This is pretty straightforward but is not a slam dunk. Part of the challenge is emphasizing your experience in each areas critical to the company. To do this, you need to customize your resume for each position.

The first step is to review the job description closely. Identify the sales activities that are important to the position. Drill down in detail. You need to be more specific than just saying you open new accounts and service existing accounts. Unfortunately, most sales professionals focus on just bottom line performance only and list a bullet under each job like this: “grew sales by 15% per year for 6 consecutive years.” This is good, but does not give enough information.  You should provide some context to the situation.  What challenges did you face, how did you achieve this performance and how did this compare to your goals?

There are a number of common activities that make a sales professional successful. Each position will require a different mix of these activities. Once you identify the important activities to the employer, detail them on your resume. Some elements to consider include:

  • Lead generation

  • Cold calling

  • Opening new accounts

  • Writing proposals

  • Estimating

  • Up-selling customers

  • Growing existing accounts

  • Providing customer service

  • Retaining customers

  • Rolling out new products

Each employer will have a different needs. Most have goals for growth – prospects they are targeting, markets they want to enter, growth with existing customers. In all likelihood, the company has goals in multiple areas.

You need to demonstrate your ability to succeed in these key areas. To do this, provide quantifiable performance measures. This requires going beyond the basic bullet “grew sales 15%.” How much cold calling did you do? How many leads did this generate? How many new customers did you add? What was the revenue of these new customers?

The story behind your answers to a set of questions like this can make an extremely impressive presentation. It will also set you apart from your competition.