Sales Resume: How to Write a Compelling One, Including Examples

by Leslie Toth, MBA, CPRW, PHR, SHRM-CP

Sales

You know you are an amazing salesperson; you can sell snow to a snowman, but how to put all of this information down on paper seems like a daunting task. When a recruiter or hiring manager is looking at a sales resume, their eyes naturally search for several must-have key elements that are specific to the sales world.  If these elements are not there, the resume will go into the NO pile. You will have less than 45 seconds to catch the reader’s attention. Below are some tips to make sure your sales resume gets noticed.

1) A Good Sales Resume Must Start With a High-Impact Value Proposition

Resumes for sales jobs need to be results-oriented, emphasizing how you contributed to your employer’s bottom line. Your value proposition statement needs to let your future employer know what you can do for them. Start by creating a summary statement that highlights your sales capabilities and value to potential employers. Required elements include the main reason why an employer should call you for an interview, and also clearly display your area of expertise and industry knowledge.

2) Use Action-Packed Statements

Sales professionals MUST show a track record of sales achievements. This will tell your potential employer you are driven to succeed. Under each position write a paragraph that describes your responsibilities. Then, under the paragraph, list your top achievements using bullets. To create powerful accomplishments, go beyond showing results, describe how you achieved them. 

For example:

  • Cultivated relationships with customer base and uncovered new customer needs.
  • Built sales organization, conceptualizing and realizing strategic plan that exceeded revenue targets in first year.

3) Show Them the Numbers

Hiring managers want to see numbers. Quantifying your achievements is extremely important in sales. It’s clear that the numbers will speak for themselves. Don’t just show increased profit margins, also show where you ranked in comparison to others.

For example:

  • Doubled revenue to $4.5 M, resulting in division consistently representing up to 55% of revenue.
  • Achieved 108% to plan by August 2012.

4) What Did You Sell, Who Did You Sell to, and How Much Did You Sell?

Your sales resume must explain to your reader the what, who and how much. Don’t make them guess, make it very clear. One way to clarify what you sold is to include a brief company description; this could be the company tag line, under the company name. Also, make sure you include both your clients and quantifiable results so the reader can easily figure out who you sold to and how much you sold.

5) Company Reputation Matters!

If you have worked for, or sold to a Fortune 500 company make sure you include the company name. This is a situation where name dropping is a good thing. Many companies are using ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) and many recruiters use these company names to search for candidates. If you include your prestigious clients, that recruiter will find you.

6) Brag About Your Awards

Awards set candidates apart from the crowd. Make sure you include your awards above the fold, under each of your positions. Awards such as President's Club, Achiever Club, or Stock Option Award should not be buried at the bottom of page 2. Bring them to the top where they can shine. Whenever possible, show how many others you were up against to get the award.

For example:

  • Ranked #1 sales representative for ABC Company out of 300 sales representatives nationwide.
  • Received 2005 Spring Value Award for Sales Achievement out of 200 sales representatives in division.

7) Be Specific About the Details

It is important to list the size and type of accounts, along with quotas. This will paint the picture for the hiring manager of the size and volume you have been responsible for. It will give them a better idea of what you have been able to achieve.

Use the questions below to help you brainstorm your achievements.

  • How was your performance related to your peers?
  • How well did you meet your goals and other sales expectations?
  • What sales awards have you won?
  • Did you land any difficult accounts? Did you salvage any failing accounts? What steps were taken to land / save these accounts?
  • Have you led contract negotiations resulting in a positive business deal?

A sales resume can be difficult to write. Because there is so much competition for each position, your sales resume needs to go beyond just reciting your credentials. The best sales resumes should convey complete confidence that the candidate can meet the needs of the potential employer. By using these tips, you can make sure yours is one of them.

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