Everyone has their own unique story of how they got into sales. For me, it started with a job in software implementations, in which I was promoted to manager. My staff, who were my former peers, had trouble with my overachiever management style so the company moved me into sales.
Early in my sales career, I did not have any sales training to speak of. I went on sales calls with my sales manager – that was training. My first sales manager was old-school sales from the days of the dinosaurs. He would say, “Watch me and do as I do.” Many times, I was truly appalled by what he considered to be best sales practices – old-school, smarmy tactics.
New sales people today have it made with so many more resources available to them to help them succeed. But still, I see them making some of the same mistakes as the old timers. And it got me to thinking, there are three main things new sales people can focus on to ensure they succeed.
1. Learn to Love Training
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with new sales people who were being on-boarded for their first sales positions out of college. I was impressed with what I experienced, and quite envious of what they were learning. And, this all took place before they were even given their first quota!
As new sales people starting out in their careers, they were getting what many of us more tenured salespeople would have killed for: months of training on presentation skills, sales call planning, objection handling, social selling including how to maximize their LinkedIn profiles, sales processes and methodologies for opportunity pursuit and account planning, CRM training – you name it.
Some of the new sales people embraced the training and have since become successful. However, others have ignored the amazing training they received and are struggling to build a quality pipeline and make quota. If you are fortunate enough to get any type of training, learn to love it.
2. Use Your Training to Be the Best
In my first sales job, the company asked me to close four deals in six months. Luckily, I knew the products and services since I had been implementing them for a few years and knew them inside and out. However, the current team of four sales people selling this particular product had only sold two to date.
With the little bit of sales training I had, I did what I knew best – asked a lot of questions – and I ended up closing 10 deals in that six-month period. By asking questions, I was able to quickly determine which executives in my territory needed the product and service we sold, and where I should be spending my time. My paycheck went up substantially and I loved the flexibility, the problem solving, the travel, and so much more. And right from there, I knew that I loved being a salesperson. But, I knew I could be so much better.
3. Keep Learning and Growing
As I moved up in my sales career and began leading teams of talented sales professionals and sales managers, I realized I had to get better at my craft and then pass it on to my sales teams to do the same. So, I sought training and reinforcement that would help my sales teams do better qualification, forecasting and talking to the C-suite.
However, many of them looked at what I was doing as a nuisance. It took them off the road, into a classroom, and away from customers and prospects – and they didn’t like it. But I continued to get smarter and realized that the reinforcement side was the key to everyone’s success. So, I worked with my sales managers to provide more coaching of current and new best practices to up everyone’s game.
The good news was, my team grasped the newer concepts over time as their deal sizes got larger and their selling time got shorter. Then, something interesting happened. Many of them became believers and started reading more books on sales, going to webinars, etc. on their own and sharing what worked and didn’t work. Progress!
The best sales people embrace training, use their training to be the best, and keep learning. We need to keep investing in ourselves. We should all look in the mirror and ask ourselves: “Shouldn’t I be the best I can be in sales or sales management?” I mean, shouldn’t we all work to get better for ourselves and, equally important, for our customers?
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