What an intriguing question! So, we asked five successful sales reps and managers: “What is one piece of advice you wish you had when you started selling?” We found seven nuggets to pass along.
- It takes time to get comfortable in your sales role and in the territory – not weeks, but months. And, if you have a lot of accounts, several weeks might pass between visits – and you end up feeling like you’re starting all over again. But as time passes and you start to add value, you will develop a presence in the account.
- Sell to people the way they want to be sold to, not how you want to sell to them.
- Avoid doing a product dump of everything you learned in product training. While it’s tempting and you think you’ll build credibility that way, you won’t. In sales, first you sell yourself, then your company, and your product third. Customers need to know who you are and when they develop a loyalty and comfort with you, they’ll buy. So, let them ask you questions about your products instead of the product dump.
- Every opportunity to meet with a customer will impact your credibility – so make every interaction positive.
- And for people who are entering sales for the first time … there is good news and bad news in the sales arena. The bad news is never as bad as it sounds – you just have to work through it.
- Every time you go into an account you will hear the question: “What’s new?” So, ask yourself the question on the way to the account. Or better yet, think about it on Sunday before the week begins. Then when asked, you can respond then and there, or if there isn’t enough time available to discuss it, you can ask if there’s a better time to talk about it. The key – regardless of when you choose to prepare – simply is to be prepared to share “What’s new?”.
- A variation on preparation is to be prepared for unexpected encounters. While you may not know what you might specifically say, you can still prepare for unexpected encounters. Anne Scarlett has a great blog post with suggestions on handling impromptu encounters. Some advice she offers is:
- Recognize you’re simply one human being talking to another.
- Be likeable – keep the conversation position and even subtly complimentary.
- Be comfortable with what you might say – practice the top three of four things you might want to say, don’t overpromise, become skilled thinking on your feet, and recap when before the conversation ends.
- Practice your delivery style in business and social settings. After all, you never know where you might have an unexpected encounter.
- And finally … remember – this is the moment to make a lasting impression, not close a deal!
Thinking back on your sales career, is there something you wish you wish you knew before you started that you would might share?
Check out the Sales Training Connection to read other posts on sales effectiveness.
©2011 Sales Horizons™, LLC