How to create a killer fintech sales resume that will max your market value!
I’ve been in the recruitment business for financial technology (fintech), data and research sales people for 20 years, and yet unfortunately I continue to see many poor resumes from fintech sales professionals (everyone from individual contributors to sales leaders) that just don’t do justice to their track records.
You might well expect to see some of the best resumes from sales people – after all, they are at the forefront of representing their companies’ products and services daily, conducting presentations and producing proposals, and ultimately a resume is just another brochure – one that focuses on oneself (call it ‘Me Inc.’ if you like). It's a proposal outlining experiences and successes, something that aims to become an ‘irresistible offer’ to potential employers who can’t wait to meet and sell you on their company. Consequently, it should be the best piece of content-come-proposal ever written by a sales person. It should be of an appropriate length, be pleasant to look at, not contain grammatical or spelling mistakes, and clearly articulate the nature of sales roles held. Most importantly, it needs to provide concrete evidence of how successful that sales person has been – after all, that’s what a potential employer will be buying into.
Some people might be tempted to say ‘so what? Why does it matter when I can just explain my experience in person?’ Well, that opportunity all hinges on you getting that meeting with your company of choice in the first place. If it’s a company you’re particularly interested in, you just don’t want to take that chance simply because a piece of paper encouraged that company to meet someone else over you. Your resume is a first impression and a representation of how you might sell for them. So if a sales person is finding it hard to sell themselves, by producing a ‘sub-standard’ proposal in the form of a resume, it doesn’t bode well for the way you might represent that potential employer. (The same principle applies for how you might conduct interviews – whether you’re an active or passive candidate – but that’s a topic for discussion another time).
Of course, as a sales person you need to have the proven sales track record to secure the best sales roles out there. But having a killer resume will at least:
Demonstrate your sales professionalism and ability to clearly present a value proposition (in this case yourself).
Make you stand out as a ‘must-see’ sales professional, thus increasing the level of interest from companies wanting to meet you, and putting you in the driving seat about where to invest your time in order to qualify opportunities.
Ultimately increase your market value, allowing you to win your job of choice at the best possible rate.
So besides taking care of how your resume looks and is structured, and making sure it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors, what are the top inside tips I can give to ensure you have a killer sales resume – one that means no company will think twice about wanting to meet you?
Well, to start with, don’t just write a company name, job title, and one of those ‘standard lists of sales responsibilities’. There’s really no point in listing things that every sales person does on a daily basis. Here are a few examples of these tasks (and these are lines taken straight from a real-life resume):
Planning and executing sales campaigns
Establishing, qualifying and enhancing prospective relationships through targeted campaigns, partner relationship building and lead generation.
Scheduled daily meetings with senior executives at prospective firms to represent XYZ.
Presenting the applicability of XYZ’s solutions to personnel at prospective companies.
Travel to and from prospective client sites and attending industry conferences.
Developing tailored proposals and commercial negotiation.
Daily interaction with Salesforce for pipeline management and deal closure.
So what? Every sales person does these things – they go with the job, so they’re hardly going to make you stand out. The most effective way to present yourself (after summarising the company name, job title and dates), is to structure as follows (with specific examples bullet pointed):
Doing WHAT (the nature of the role)
➢ New business sales role tasked with new client acquisition.
Selling WHAT (nature of solutions you have been selling)
➢ Selling portfolio analytics software solutions for equity and fixed income portfolios.
Selling to WHO (nature of clients you have been selling to, and where)
➢ To portfolio managers within institutional asset managers and hedge funds in Germany and Switzerland.
ACHIEVEMENTS (quantifiable sales performance / achievements).
➢ Met or exceeded target in four of the past five years.
➢ Achieved 144% of target in 2018, delivering $720k against a $500k target, top sales person in the company out of a global team of eight.
➢ Opened the Swiss market by securing the company’s first two clients in Switzerland.
The above six example sentences (in what, what, who, achievements) are clearly much more informative and powerful than the standard sales responsibilities listed beforehand; in a succinct way they clarify exactly the nature of the sales role, all underlined with a select list of quantifiable achievements (mixed in with an honest bit of humbleness in admitting that target wasn’t hit one year).
It is perhaps in the achievements area that many sales people fail to include sufficient detail; sometimes they even fail to include it at all on their resume. But it's worth noting that, whether you have a sparkling track record or not, this is very often the resume differentiator. Even a mediocre sales person who presents some quantifiable successes in the right way can find they have a resume that outshines top sales performers who fail to highlight their successes appropriately. How would you feel if you learnt that someone else on your sales team – someone that you’ve beaten every year against target – has secured a role with a company you had wanted to meet, simply because they had a better RESUME than you? OK, sales performance details can indeed be discussed in interviews, but the key point is that you need to secure that meeting first. In addition, I’ve often found that sales people that don’t make the effort to detail their sales achievements in their resume either don’t have successes to talk about, or are poorly prepared to discuss them in interview. Once again, this reflects badly on their ability to sell a proposition (in this case themselves).
The first step to being able to being able to craft a resume with good quantifiable detail is having this detail to hand in the first place. That's why I advise anyone I meet who's starting out their fintech sales career that it’s so important to record everything year by year, so the information is ready for when you need it in the future. I remember once speaking to a sales person from S&P – she was looking to move on, having been there for seven years and then taken a year out, but she had none of her sales performance data. That makes life more difficult – ultimately this data shows a sales person’s value, and without specifics potential employers can become nervous. Having clear quantifiable detail of sales achievements is as important as a marketing person taking along their content portfolio as examples of their work.
So what detail would I recommend you maintain your own personal record of?
Record the following sales target details:
% achieved against target
Position in the team against target (i.e. stating third out of a team of 40 is certainly a more powerful statement than saying than third out of three)
Notes (i.e. any mitigating factors for performance or notable successes)
Record the following for each deal closed:
Name of client
Financial institution type and business area / division
What product / service was sold to them
$ deal size
Length of sales cycle
Notes (i.e. anything noteworthy about a deal – perhaps it was the first deal in a country or first sale of a new product, or perhaps you received company congratulatory messages from senior executives that you have retained copies of).
Record the following about your remuneration:
On Target Earnings (OTE) for hitting target
Actual amount earned in commissions / bonuses. If you’re over-achieving and earning beyond OTE, there’s nothing more powerful than being able to demonstrate this in showing real figures as evidence (you might even consider having W2s or P60s on hand).
Build up the above detail throughout your sales career and you’ll be amazed at the return it will give you. Of course most sales people have both good and bad years, but periodically amassing this dataset allows you dive into it with ease. You can decide what information to present in your resume, and you’ll have the rest of the data points ready for interviews. If you are a top sales performer and have the quantifiable detail to demonstrate this, be proud to present this information in your resume. And if you’re an average (or even below average) sales performer, you’ll still be amazed at how quantifiable detail can make your resume stand out against those of your rivals, many of which tend to be too qualitative.
As a fintech sales person, your track record is evidence and social proof that you can in fact do what you say. Ultimately, that’s what an employer needs to know in order for them to feel satisfied they are engaging with a top sales performer. Build your sales career profile with a demonstrable track record and clearly articulate this in your resume, and it will:
Open doors to the companies you are most interested in meeting, with the best market position and sellable products.
Have sales leaders at these companies ready to sell their opportunities to you, which means more choice for you.
Strengthen your hand when it comes to offer negotiations.
If you are a fintech sales professional with a great sales track record (in either an individual contributor or sales leader role within the securities fintech industry) who’s looking to accelerate your sales career by being connected to some of the best fintech companies around the world, then feel free to contact us for a confidential career discussion. And if you’re a sales leader at securities technology, data or research provider looking to hire top sales performers, then we should also be talking – contact us.
About the author: Shawn Rutter is the founder of Excelsior Search, a market-leading, niche search company specialising in international executive search and recruitment solutions for financial technology (fintech), data and research providers to the global capital markets and investment industry. With experience delivering search assignments across the Americas, EMEA and APAC, he founded Excelsior Search in 1999, having previously worked as an Army Officer and for the international search firm MRI. Shawn invites you to connect on LinkedIn.