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How to Write a Great Sales Resume (Resume Writer Secrets from Jim Lewis)

Sales resumes should be focused on accomplishments, metrics, and performance measurements. The employer reading a sales resume typically has zero interest in fluff or superficial, pointless verbiage. Can you sell or can you not sell? As a resume writer, keep in mind that for the most part, sales resumes can dispense with routine duties which can be assumed by the reader between the lines.

At the top of the page, I recommend providing a short introduction paragraph, normally under eight lines in total length. A few of the sentences can say nice things about you, such as “Top producer skilled in closing difficult deals.” The phrase “strong ethics and integrity” is a good one.

It's always wise to mention diversity (“skilled in serving customers from diverse social economic and cultural backgrounds”). For better or worse, such politically-correct nods are appreciated in many corporate settings where they emphasize diversity training of one kind or another. If you want the job, you need to learn to play the games.

The education and credential section, although required, is usually the least important part of any sales resume. It can go at the bottom of the page, usually. Have you taken any sales training? Such as seminars or workshops? If so, you can tell the reader approximately how many hundreds of hours of such training. Computer software is a good thing to mention, especially any CRM packages such as Salesforce. The basics are Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint). If you have a college degree, this is the place where it goes.

I recommend you do include your graduation year, even if you are an older person. The reason is that employers know all the games, and if you try and hide your age by skipping the date, they know exactly what you're up to. So don't try and be cute by hiding your age by not supplying the graduation dates. It will backfire by giving the employer the impression that you are not to be trusted or that you play head games. The best resume writers will tell you, if you have a college degree, then there's no need to include your high school diploma.

I like to use a bullet format in the experience section, because it is an easy outline that facilitates understanding by a person who is speed-reading your resume. Make sure you do include the city and state for each place of employment (you would be surprised how many people leave that out).

At the top of each job description, it is really valuable to include a separate accomplishments section. I like to put this in bold and underline, then underneath it using little diamond shaped bullets, insert one accomplishment per line. I like the whole accomplishment section to also be in italic font, so it stands out visually on the page.

It's good to think of some metrics you can brag about here. On the one hand, you certainly don't want to lie about any accomplishments or numbers. But on the other hand, realistically speaking, the person reading your resume 99 times out of 100 is going to take your word for it. He is not going to ask you to document the fact that you claimed you had a 23% sales growth in the fourth quarter of last year.

You can include statements such as "Rank number one sales out of 23 Sales Representatives". You can also specify dollar figures, such as "Achieved $28,000 sales in the first 12 months of employment". If you have any awards, by all means do include those, too. For example: "Received Sales of the Quarter Award" four times for outstanding performance.

Similar examples: “Trained and mentored junior Sales Representatives into management positions”. Another example: “Grew book of business 175 accounts through cold call prospecting, networking at local community events, and trade shows.” Some other handy statements might not include numbers per se, but still show your value-added contribution.

For instance, “Supported the evaluation of new products and provided valuable feedback to sales and marketing teams”. Or tell the reader that you “Implemented an effective outbound calling strategy to develop warm leads, and this exceeded your sales target by 50% and maintained a close rate of 22%”.

These are just my examples as a resume writer with 19 years experience, as you can see. The whole point is to try and be as specific as possible, using numbers, dollar signs, or concrete examples that show the bottom line performance.

This is the single most valuable trick, in my opinion, for any sales resume, namely, to focus on specific accomplishments. In my experience, you will find that a resume that only has four or five short similar metric accomplishment statements like this will end up getting you 10 times more job interviews in the real world than a much longer resume which is full only of boring duty descriptions.

Always keep in mind that ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software will be scanning your resume, so keyword packing is definitely a good idea. Personally, however, I do not like using a separate keyword section, as seems to be the vogue these days. It appears blatantly designed that way to be read by a computer, rather than a person.

A much better approach, in my experience, is to use those same keywords and buzzwords, and instead insert them in the introduction section of the top of the page. Just put them in the form of a sentence, separating each buzzword with a comma. For example: “Extensive background includes cold calls, presentation sales, social media marketing, selling to C-level management," etc.

A few more notes about the introduction of the top which I mentioned previously:

You might start off saying something like “I am a highly qualified sales professional with 15 years experience in the pharmaceutical, automotive, and building supplies industries. Proven ability to conduct convincing presentations to show the client value added worth of your product or service, and overcome objections with case studies and metrics.”

Don't be bashful on the sales resume at any time! This is the time to brag. You might tell the reader that you are successfully able to de-escalate post sale issues without management involvement by jumping in as a problem solver to your customer. Negotiation is a natural skill for salespeople, so nobody has to tell you this.

As a resume writer, try to support the evaluation of your products with marketing or sales data to demonstrate your worth, and signal that your contract is going to generate revenue, control costs, and increase market share.