Off the Cuff Instant Interview Question: What one piece of advice would you give a new sales rep just starting out today?
Today, new sales people have access to a ton of training, documented case studies, information on best sales practices, and role-playing exercises on account planning, objection handling, dealing with procurement, meeting planning, social selling, and engaging executives. Honestly, almost every area of sales is now either documented in numerous books or covered in some type of web-based workshop or classroom training.
In addition, sales managers are consistently coaching their new sales people (at least, they should be!) to reinforce best practices around high-value activities, provide guidance to help them act on their own (rather than dictating), and ensure they complete their action items.
Yet, I’m still seeing new sales people make the same bad mistakes as their predecessors. It’s disheartening to see bad habits in new sales people, such as:
- Doing little to no planning for upcoming client meetings
- Having next to no understanding of a customer’s goals, needs, risk tolerances, or priorities
- Racing to demos and providing proposals too early
- Selling products and services they THINK the customer wants, without understanding where the customer is spending their time, money and resources
- Targeting stakeholders too low in the food chain, where they’re relegated to selling features and functions
- Not establishing a way to move up in the client organization to better understand desired business outcomes
- Bringing tons of internal resources into meetings with little to no role in the deal
Sales is now a recognized, respectable profession. Unlike when I started out, colleges today offer courses and majors in sales. Salespeople are no longer viewed as pushy used car salesmen, but as advisors who add value. There are also a variety of sales career paths providing upward mobility for those looking to take on additional responsibilities.
For new sales people out there, the key to success is to use every tool or training opportunity available to you − including your sales manager. And then align yourself where your customers need you most. Be relevant. Be credible. And, don’t waste your time on deals that will never ever close. Learn from the mistakes of the old-timers and go out there and help your customers reach their business goals. It’s a whole lot easier than pushing that big boulder up the hill.
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