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How (and Why) to Use a Brag Book During a Sales Interview

If a sales opportunity is good enough to interview for, it’s good enough to put in the proper effort to win the position. Separating yourself from your competition during the interview process has multiple steps to it. Today we’re going to discuss using a brag book during a sales interview to prove your sales accomplishments and ultimately earn the job.

In our Resources section we have a detailed overview of what goes into a top-flight brag book commonly used in medical or pharmaceutical sales. Brag books are less common in other industries but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. As one of our top recruiters likes to say to her candidates, “Walking into this interview without a brag book would be like walking into an interview without a resume. You just wouldn’t do that.” When interviewing outside of pharma or medical a basic sales brag book – is usually fitting.

This begs the question, “If the hiring manager isn’t requiring one, why should I go to the trouble of putting one together?” The answer begins with a sad statistic. According to ADP, who performs ten of thousands of background checks each year, 44% of resumes contain lies. In our experience, the % is higher with sales professionals if you include “optimistic exaggerations”. When it comes to proving that you’re a top sales performer, leave nothing to chance. When you boil it down, there are two things that sell – stories and facts. Used properly (see below), your brag book can help you present both.

So how do you use a brag book in a sales interview?

A simple brag book will have your resume on top, your sales #s, awards, and employee reviews. These should be tabbed by section and chronologically ordered so you can easily locate a specific document during the interview. When you first meet the hiring manager, give them a copy (which they will keep) and let them know that this is a copy of your resume with documentation of your sales #s and income from the past three years. The hiring manager may not want to explore the contents at this point. Don’t just jump in to show it to them right off the bat if they aren’t ready for it. You’ll get your chance.

The most effective way to utilize your brag book during an interview is to use it to show your sales performance when that topic comes up during the interview.

Hiring Manager “What’s your current quota and what has your performance been in relation to your quota?”

You “Is it ok if I show you?” Then take them through your #s. (You’ll have a copy of the brag book so you’re ready to go.)

Another effective use of a brag book is to demonstrate key skills that the position requires. For example, you might know that the position requires the ability to penetrate the C suite with mid-sized companies. If you have an email from your boss congratulating you on penetrating just such an account include that in your brag book. It’s going to be a perfect launching point into that topic.

In the end, if the hiring manager hates you, it won’t matter what is or isn’t in that book or even if you have one. If they like you and they’re smart, they’re going to read it cover to cover and compare the #s to your resume. When it comes down to a hiring manager having to choose between you and another candidate; make it easy for him/her to choose you by providing full documentation of your sales accomplishments. Final tip, hold onto proof of your sales accomplishments. The only thing more impressive than proving 3 years of stellar sales achievements is showing 10.

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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. Our posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

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