As a hiring sales manager, I have only a limited amount of time to evaluate and select sales representatives for open positions. In the past, when candidates came my way with a recommendation from a respected colleague, I usually take the candidate a lot more seriously and it does help build trust.
When I was a job seeker looking for a sales job, I would reach out to my network and if I was pursuing a specific job, I would ask someone who is connected with the hiring manager to drop a positive note and recommendation for me. This has really helped me gain more face to face interviews and get more job offers due to me gaining the competitive advantage over other candidates.
Below is a list of potential people that you could seek out to ask for a recommendation:
- Current sales representatives working for the hiring manager
- Colleagues of the hiring manager
- Previous colleagues
- College Alumni
- Online social networking
- Groups and organization affiliations
- Friends and Family
If you have a connection with the hiring manager and have proven yourself worthy of a recommendation, then go forth with asking for one as it does help with the sales job search. If the person you are asking doesn't know anything about you, or has limited exposure to you, then you are at fault of not effectively working your network. When you ask a person to recommend you, be sure you give them an option to not accept without making it too uncomfortable. In selecting a person to give you a thumbs up, remember, they are putting their name to vouch for you and if you do not really know the person that well or if they know nothing about you, being recommended could backfire on you as it shows the hiring manager how unprofessional you are and lack of true networking skills.
Do research on networking as well as personal branding as this will help you develop a group of future recommenders. I currently use linkedin and ask past and present colleagues and managers to provide me with an online recommendation based on our past work experiences. This is a perfect opening to ask for a live recommendation in the future if needed. Strategically done right, coming into the interview process recommended by someone respected by the hiring manager could be a great benefit to you.