Whether you are new in your sales role or have been in sales for a while, it is easy to get wrapped up in the latest new sales tool that could help you, or that one magic bullet to specifically solve prospecting issues.
In onboarding more than 1,000 reps in the past 5 years, I noticed a lot of things firsthand that happened at nearly every company in most every situation.
- There is NO magic bullet - yet that is what everyone new wants. If you are new, you want someone to just tell you exactly what to do and how to do it and turn you loose. A great onboarding program helps with this. The problem is that there are many ways to success, and there is not a single path.
- With that said, success does leave clues. Find the most successful two or three reps and see what they are doing. If your role is similar, learning from them can be a much shorter road to your own success. I mention two or three reps because the top rep (or two) may have been handed a couple of large accounts to develop over time, which is completely different than developing new business with no existing relationships in place. If the top reps are positive thinkers and goal setters, even better.
- Beware the naysayers. You know the type – the reps who are not hitting their numbers and who will complain to anyone new why it’s not possible or what the issues are that cause reps like them to not be successful. They are poison – just stay away from their thinking because it can and usually will rub off.
- A company is as good as its leadership. If the culture is one of excuse making, blame and mis-trust than this isn’t the company for you – if you are someone of high integrity and problem solving. Too many other companies with great cultures are looking for great reps.
- If after you’ve put time in, closed business, made an impact and you feel like your input is not valued, see point #4.
- Tools that automate getting a potential buyer on the call must be matched up with a prepared SDR or BDR who knows every objection against and value of the products and services your company sells. Embrace technology AND be prepared. There's no substitute for what you need to know, and the empathy of others you bring to your calls.
- Role playing is not dumb. If you don’t like it may be because (for many) it is uncomfortable showing your peers how you handle certain aspects of your calls – get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you think it is just not a real situation, make it more real – stay in “character” as if it is a real call. Far better to make mistakes when you practice than to lose out on a real opportunity you may never get back. I know I would have ramped up in my sales roles quicker with more (or better) role play.
- You make time for what is important. This is true for all of us – in sales or not.
- Women (generally) verbalize self-defeating language more than men – it does not mean we are less confident about our chances for success. Sales leaders need to be aware of style differences.
- Be a student of sales: learn something everyday about human psychology, successful customer stories (how did they become a customer – what happened at every step of the way?), and communication skills (active listening, asking powerful questions, gaining feedback, speaking with clarity and conciseness)
- BONUS: It’s valuable to have a manager who knows what you are working on. That doesn’t mean they are micro-managing, but that you have someone to be accountable to (in addition to yourself). If you are lucky enough to have a helpful sales manager, leverage them to help you succeed.
Lori Richardson helps mid-sized companies grow revenues by solving key issues in their sales department - like recruiting, retention, diversity hiring, process, pipeline and leadership. She speaks at CEO groups on topics of sales growth. Clients include companies in the technology, telecom, manufacturing, distribution, and professional services industries. Subscribe to the award-winning blog, follow her on Twitter
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