You got that job offer and you’re about to begin an exciting new career in sales.
I remember that feeling. You can’t wait to get started, go and see some customers, prove your worth – pick up your new business card with your name, new title and phone number on it – and there’s that glorious assault of the senses as you open the door and breathe in the recent valet aroma of a new company car.
Those memories are going to stay with you for the rest of your days my friend.
But listen, I’ve seen too many newbie salespeople walk in with their head held high, only to walk out quietly a few months later, leaving their keys and lap top with HR and catching a couple of embarrassed “See you arounds” as they go down to reception and wait for the taxi.
So how do you make sure that’s not you?
Well, here’s a couple of tips to ensure you’re still flying high and viewed as a long term employee, before you’ve even finished your first four weeks.
Week 1 – Inductions, Internal Departments and Initial Perceptions
If you can, try to organise a telephone call with your new manager – or their PA – a week or two before you start, and ask if there’s anything you need to know or bring with you for your first day.
A few things you might want to make sure you’re up to date with are:
- The protocol with regards to getting into the office on the first day
- Dress code
- Any meetings that need preparing for
- Personal cash requirements – if you’re staying over or travelling (you might have to claim back at the end of the month)
This might seem obvious, but you need to arrive early – to the point of waiting outside for others to arrive.
On top of understanding the dress code, you also need to make sure that your teeth, breath, hair, hands (keep them clean and dry – there’s going to be lots of hand shaking going on) and shoes are fit to represent the company you’re now working for.
Spoiler Alert – all the other internal departments don’t think much of the sales team and if you don’t look a million dollars, it won’t be long before someone makes a remark behind your back very similar to;
“Is that the impression we want to be giving our customers?”
Let others ignore this at their peril – but you now know that there are external and internal customers to impress – and so that’s exactly what you’re going to do.
Oh – and don’t meet anyone while you’re chewing – that’s just rude.
Your induction might not be as organised as you’re hoping for.
Clearly, you don’t want to point that out to anyone – but new starters on the sales force rarely get the attention they deserve.
Everybody already had something to do before your first day was thrust into their diary, so while everyone gets on with their day job, you’re left waiting for them to finish a call or fit you in between meetings.
It’s not unusual to see new sales recruits just sitting at a desk, sifting pointlessly through product brochures, filling time until their next induction meeting.
However, if you do find yourself with a bit of time on your hands, there’s no harm in finding the next five people on your induction agenda, introducing yourself, asking if the agreed time is still convenient, and saying that you’re looking forward to meeting them properly later.
If something has cropped up that means they have to see you another time – that’s OK – and no one ends up getting missed out.
Try to avoid looking like you’ve got nothing to do – use a bit of creative initiative, everyone likes to see that – just don’t go off grid, in case someone important is looking for you.
And never be embarrassed for appearing organised – people really don’t expect it from sales people, it’ll be a welcome change for most of the internal departments that you’re visiting.
If someone does come over for a chat unexpectedly, make sure you keep control of your own punctuality – if you haven’t got time to chat, politely explain why and then make sure you get to your next meeting when you should.
Also during your induction meetings don’t cross your arms, play with your phone, pick your fingernails, bite your pen or play with your hair – you’ll appear nervous or worse, bored – very rude.
Week 2 – Out With the Sales Team
Odd idea this – but for some reason the company are now going to sit you next to someone on the phone or you’ll be going out on appointments to see someone else’s customers.
You sit there, losing (and frankly faking) interest, desperately hoping that someone will let you loose on your own little corner of international commerce as soon as possible.
Sales people tend to be doers – so they don’t really enjoy observing other people doing.
Of course, watching them doesn’t give anything away or achieve anything either – you wouldn’t just watch someone ride a bike and then be expected to stay upright on your first try would you?
To be fair, you’re with these colleagues because they’re deemed to be the best the company has to offer, shining examples of the sales team’s elite – but if most of them were honest with you, they don’t know what makes them so good either.
So, you’ll go to their favourite customers (who never give them a hard time), everyone will have a pointless conversation and then your colleague will buy you a happy meal for lunch and leave you by yourself far too often while they go outside and make lots of terribly important phone calls.
To make the most of this time – and if you get someone who seems to know what they’re doing – ask them about theirs views on the following questions;
Why do customers choose to buy from us rather than the competition?
Why are customers willing to pay a premium for what we sell?
If you were to focus it down, what category or group of prospects should be at the top of my hit list?
What’s the most important measurement with regards to our results – Volume, customer retention, turnover or profit? Or is it something else?
Who do we want to keep happy at head office?
Which piece of administration is most likely to get me into trouble if it’s not done?
As a final bit of advice with regards to your fellow team mates – don’t get caught up in negative conversations with any miserable naysayers – it’s a group I call Lobster People – I’ll tell you all about them another time – but for now, if you have to spend time with someone who has fallen out of love with the company, product or job – just smile and let it wash over you.
Adopting the mind set of someone who is on their way out, as you’re on the way in – isn’t the recipe for longevity.
Week 3 – Meeting Your Customers
Plan – Learn – Plan – Plan – and then Plan some more.
But don’t spend your prime selling time planning and learning.
I want you – no, I NEED you – to give up a bit of your own time for this one.
Whether you know it or not, you my friend have got precisely 12 weeks to prove that you’re up to this job – so expect to put in something a little bit extra special until you’ve got your feet firmly under the table. So;
- Work out how you’re going to see all your existing customers
- Ensure you don’t lose any existing business
- Work out how much extra business you need to personally find to hit target
- Work out a plan on achieving that
- Give yourself personal targets – above your company targets
- Read books and articles, watch videos – become what you need to become in order to achieve what’s being asked of you – no excuses, your responsibility.
Before each call, make sure everything you need is with you and ready to use – and most importantly – work out why you’re calling and what it is you want to achieve.
Have an agenda if it helps, even if you don’t share it with customer – but have a commercial reason to be there.
Always seek to move things forward with an objective – even the tiniest amount counts.
No Movement = No Effect
No Effect = An unnecessary cost to the business
And – trust me – you really don’t want to become an unnecessary cost to the business.
It’s Not About Winning
When you go and see prospective customers, it’s really easy to feel like you have to win, to come out with something.
You can feel the pressure being asserted from head office and your boss, you’re well aware of how well the rest of the team are doing and the weight of their combined history compared to yours.
But your customers and prospects are not your competition.
Your competition are the other suppliers who are itching and knocking on the door for the same business.
Don’t walk into a sales situation trying to win – go in to help.
Go in there and help people make great buying decisions – that way you’ll create loyal customers who will welcome you back again and again.
Week 4 & Beyond – Staying Ahead of the 80% of Industry Half Jobs
Your work ethic is being monitored constantly, getting the job might have felt like an achievement, but you really can’t take your foot off the pedal any time soon.
Do a Full Day’s Work
Be on time, get out on patch early, stay a little later – don’t moan about it to your boss, their work life balance is non-existent.
All sales jobs are the same, if you don’t like it – get a desk job somewhere.
Company Time Isn’t Personal Time
Everyone conducts some amount of personal business on company time – emails, shopping, phone calls – but when you’re on the road your time is your responsibility – and days can just disappear.
Give yourself a proper lunch break if it’s required to work through your personal to do list – but don’t get to a point where selling is something that only happens when you manage to find the time in between your private life.
Keep Your Sales Manager Informed
Find out how often your boss would like to see you and then make sure you’re the one who gets it in the diary.
A weekly phone call is OK – but try to remember that your boss probably hasn’t got time to chat about last night’s telly – so always have a reason, make a list or create your own agenda if it helps you to stay focused.
If you’re sending emails – where possible, try to send one with ten points on, rather than ten separate emails.
Most of all don’t just try to look good to your boss – strive to make your boss look good through your achievements.
That might not seem overly fair – but I’m assuming that person gave you the job, so justify their faith in you by making their job as easy as possible.
And never, ever, ever make your boss look foolish or give them a reason to ask – “Why didn’t I know about that?”
Next UK Sales Training Workshops
(click on preferred city for full details)
This one-day workshop was designed to provide delegates with a comprehensive introduction to the Selling with EASE process and to show how a thorough understanding of the four major steps – Earn the Right, Ask the Appropriate Questions, Solve the Problem and Execute the Solution – can help them to succeed in all genuine sales situations.
This interactive workshop is perfect for any salespeople who need to hit the ground running or anyone requiring a comprehensive sales “refresher”
In short – If your job remit requires you to convert sales meetings into profitable business relationships – then this workshop is the one for you.
At the end of this workshop delegates will be able to:
- Explain why customers make the buying decisions and how they choose suppliers
- Understand why your current pitch isn’t the solution to your prospects problem
- Explain why setting yourself two different outcome targets to each call can lead to success every time
- Demonstrate a high level of consultative questioning techniques
- Use real life examples and case studies to sell concepts and solutions
- Effectively overcome all genuine objections
- Understand – and execute – the process of closing every sale opportunity
Interested in finding out more?
(click on preferred city name for full details)