A lot of people want sales jobs. Fewer want the work sales entails. It is important to have realistic expectations, positive role models and a sales manager who can give you quick lessons. Here are five ways to get your career off to a positive start and avoid becoming a sales casualty.
Ask Your Sales Manager to Lay out Expectations Before You Begin the Job
Learn what the manager wants and strive for those results. Find this out on day one, not at your 90-day review. Determine how much activity he expects and ask where you should go for help.
Get Your Expectations on the Table
Have a list of two or three things you expect from the manager. It could be training, coaching, access to information or help with proposal building. Being assertive about what you expect from your boss will lay the groundwork for good communication early in your relationship. You'll be able to have open discussions about accounts and mistakes without getting into personality conflicts.
Expect to Do the Work Before You Get Paid for It
You may be on a salary-plus-bonus compensation program early on, but the real money in sales comes three to five years into the job. That's when you have loyal customers who return your phone calls and refer you to their peers. If you think you should have an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, sales will frustrate you.
Be willing to put in the hours. Sales experience is accrued by the call, not the year. You can get an extra quarter of selling experience by working an extra hour or two a day and seeing more prospects than the other rookies.
Know the Game Within the Game
Understand that selling is a process, and closing is the logical conclusion to taking previous steps. Measure the number of times you have to dial the phone to make contact with a specific number of prospects, then track how many contacts you convert into meetings, and so on. This takes the mystery out of selling and lets salespeople self-correct. Ask yourself these questions:
Where am I in the process with this prospect?
What is my next step?
What do I think they need to see or hear?
What could I do that I haven't thought of yet?
Have a Philosophy of Selling and Apply It
To develop a philosophy, you’ll need to learn about different selling techniques and pick a style that makes you a partner instead of a pleader. Great salespeople are concerned with getting the customer a successful outcome rather than closing the sale -- that’s why they are successful.
Put these five ideas into practice and you’ll be more successful, too. It will happen sooner than you think.
About the Author:
Chris Lytle is a Chicago-based entrepreneur and the author of The Accidental Salesperson.