Do You Know Your Strengths?

Lessons from a used car salesman

car sales

Could you sell used cars?

Now you may be relieved to hear that I am not suggesting this as a possible new career option for you to consider – although of course it is the perfect job for some people, so I don’t want to knock it!

It takes a range of skills to do this job successfully, skills which can be useful in other arenas.

What I’d like you to do is to think for a minute about what the used car salesman or woman has to do.

Essentially they are selling something that has some good points and some bad points. It may not be the latest model, but it doesn’t suffer from all the teething problems you can get with a brand new model.

Show things in the best possible light

Their job is to present their product in a positive light and do their best to play down and divert attention from any weaknesses.

To the typical car purchaser, this is often seen as a rather underhand exercise and to be sure if the supposed ‘good points’ are out and out lies and the bad points are serious faults then nobody would condone this approach.

But there is nothing wrong with highlighting the positive features of the car and drawing the attention of the buyer away from minor details like a tiny spot of rust on the left wheel arch.

The most effective salesman will also take time to think about who they are selling to and will draw attention to points that they know will be relevant to the potential purchaser. They might highlight fuel economy, green credentials, extra luggage space, engine performance or price, all according to what is likely to be of most interest to the buyer.

It’s all in the attitude

And above all, a good salesman will have an upbeat attitude, showing confidence and enthusiasm for the product and a desire to engage positively with potential clients, getting to know their needs and building a relationship of trust.

If you can forgive me for comparing you to a used car for a moment (!), I am sure you can already see that there are parallels with the world of career change and job applications.

It is important to remember that when you are pitching for a new job, it is a sales exercise and you are both the salesman and the product. Your task, like the car sales person, is to promote your strengths and to play down your weaknesses.

What are your key selling points?

So take your time to think about what your key ‘selling points’ are. How can you emphasise them, provide evidence to show when you used them and demonstrate how relevant they are to your potential buyer – I mean employer?

What are the weaknesses in your work history that you might wish to play down or deflect attention from. How will you do this?

What is your potential employer looking for and what does that mean about the particular focus you need to place on certain aspects of your skills and experience?

And particularly if you are having an informal first meeting or are networking as a strategy for exploring new career options, your first step will be to build up the know, like and trust with the contacts you meet, way before you ever begin to pitch your product.

So you may not want to become a car salesman, but you could find that a few tips from him could make all the difference to your approach to new jobs and careers.

Something to think about

“The most draining and morale destroying conversation you can have with yourself is one that focuses on your imperfections.”
~ Fiona Harrold ~

Cherry Recommends

Be Your Own Life Coach

Be Your Own Life Coach

Fiona Harrold

I think this was one of the very first books I read on life coaching, and it opened my eyes to a much more positive and forward looking approach to my life and career.

Fiona Harrold does not mince her words, but her straight talking approach will certainly make you sit up and pay attention. She focuses on the lack of self belief that holds so many of us back and prevents us from pursuing the life and work we will love and which will fulfil us.

The book is full of practical exercises that will encourage you to see just how special you are and to recognise and celebrate the qualities that make you unique.

She will challenge you to rethink how you see yourself, how you can build your confidence, become self-reliant and take positive action towards creating the life and career you want.

She opens the book with a description of the moment in her life when she realised just how awful it would be to reach the end of life with regrets for what could have been. She decided not to let that happen and this book will help you make the same positive choice about your own life.

Pick up a copy from

Pick up a copy from

From The 5 Minute Career Coach November 2011

About the author

Amy Thomas

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