story and photos by Kim Souza
A sales decision can be made within 12 seconds of the initial introduction, according to Dr. Eli Jones, Dean of the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.
Jones gave college students Jackie Sandoval and Jamie Garcia a golden opportunity to pitch themselves to job recruiters for Cintas and J.B. Hunt Transport during the 2013 kick-off celebration for the local ALPFA chapter on Wednesday evening (Jan. 9) in Rogers.
ALPFA – the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting – opened its Northwest Arkansas chapter four years ago and has grown to the third largest in the country behind, New York and California.
“We want to share the ALPFA investment in this community and are completely inclusive beyond Latino professionals,” said David Kopsch, president for the local chapter. “Our local presence has grown from 20 members almost four years to more than 2,000. This organization seeks to advance, connect and empower.”
Jones delivered the keynote message at the event and spoke candidly to more than 150 attendees about the importance of learning appropriate sales techniques, regardless of the job or industry in which you work.
He said sales is more about asking and listening than telling and pushing. He encouraged corporate recruiters in the room to share their thoughts about what they look for when hiring job candidates.
The consensus from several local businesses is they want to see directness from job candidates as well as someone who has done their homework about the position and the company itself.
Jones says like it or not, first impressions are key and 12 to 15 seconds is about all someone has to sell themselves to a prospective employer.
He urges those looking for work to network and scope out corporate recruiters via LinkedIn and other social media platforms to try and get a feel for their social styles – referring to Tracom Group's research on social identity..
Knowing someone’s social style gives a job candidate or sales professional a leg up in closing the deal as they can gear their presentation to best fit the style of their interviewer. For instance, two of the four styles involve direct, concise and insightful statements, while the other two styles might prefer less passion and more details.
Jones said job candidates should ask good questions of their interviewers, and it’s perfectly OK to ask “when could I start” or “what is the next step.”
The recruiters agreed they are looking for smart and effective communicators who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and work hard.
Jones spent several years in sales for management for three Fortune 100 companies before his career in academia.
Attendees also enjoyed music provided Son 3, a Latin jazz trio, and buffet of entrees prepared by the Culinary and Hospitality Department at NorthWest Arkansas Community College.
The local chapter has been embraced by the region’s largest employers, Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and J.B Hunt in addition to Arvest Bank and dozens of other businesses seeking diversity within their organizations.
Kopsch said diversity is much more than who someone is, as it also includes the mindset within.
“ALPFA is about being a part of something bigger than just our local community.The fact that we have been able to connect through the national organization with leaders from across the country has allowed us to advance in different ways,” said Alex Vasquez, associate general counsel with Walmart Stores Inc.
Kopsch said the organization gets as many as 60 requests a month from employers seeking job candidate referrals from within the local chapter’s membership.
Sandoval joined ALPFA her freshman year at the UA and was able to attend the annual conference in California this year where she was asked to share her story with the national audience. From that she received a call from Bank of America, where she had recently sent a job application. She then completed a phone interview. That led to a trip to New York two weeks later for consideration in the bank’s global marketing program.
“I know that wonderful career opportunity came to me because of my association with ALPFA,” Sandoval said.