A cover letter is your first opportunity to impress a potential employer, and when you work in sales, you know how important a first impression can be.
While the goal of a cover letter is to introduce yourself, explain why you're a good fit for the position and express your interest in the company, a cover letter for a sales position will be more targeted. Are you unsure if your cover letter can close the deal? Read on for tips on what to include.
Strut your sales statistics
If you've already held a sales position, this is your opportunity to show off your winning numbers. Sandra Lamb, a career, lifestyle and etiquette expert, says to include your most important achievements:
- Sales success rate, expressed in numbers.
- Customers or clients retained and converted to new product areas.
- New customers or clients gained.
- Increase in profits and sales levels.
Being specific has more impact than simply saying you were one of the best sales team members at your company.
"Stats have to be included," says Marcia LaReau, president of Forward Motion LLC, a career strategy firm. "If they are going from small-number tickets to much higher tickets, they should use percentages rather than the numbers, or at least give context, such as, 'In year two, brought in $800K in contracts, which represented 30 percent of market share in the region, up from 18 percent in year one.'" The company's size doesn't have to determine how well-qualified you are for your next position. By assigning numbers to your past successes, you're giving the hiring manager an idea of how you would perform if on his team.
Share stories of your success
Sometimes, stories can better express success than numbers can. While you should include your sales stats, incorporating a story of how you overcame a challenge or closed an important deal can be just as informative.
"Be specific and provide examples," says Keith Wolf, vice president of marketing at Murray Resources, a Houston recruiting firm. "Include clear and measurable proof, like the number of new accounts opened. Also, consider including a brief story about a particularly difficult sale you made. Perhaps it was a cold call that you turned into a large account. Hiring managers love to hear stories of perseverance turning into results."
Prove you have a plan
While it's important to include your sales records and stats, it's also crucial to show that you understood what you were doing in your role. "A key element in the cover letter for a sales position would not only be the metrics -- increase in sales percentage, overall sales, etc. -- but the how; how did you achieve this success?" says Beth Carter, executive recruiter and certified executive, business and career coach at Carter Consultants Ltd. "Write about your sales tactics; for example, 'I increased sales in two years by 20 percent by identifying an untapped market in this industry.' Companies want to understand how you can replicate your past success for their company." By showing that you understand the market, can spot an opportunity for a sale and can reproduce your sales accomplishments at a different company, you're marketing yourself as a flexible and experienced sales representative.
Reiterate your interest in the company
After you've proved your sales skills, discuss why you want to join the team. A cover letter should strike a balance between introducing yourself and expressing your interest in the company. Prove that you've done your research, and give examples of why you admire the company, what made you interested in working for it and how you could contribute to its goals.