The first 100 days! A guide for new sales people in their first external selling role

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1 The first 100 days! A guide for new sales people in their first external selling role

2 Foreword During my sales career I have watched so many new sales people left to their own devices without sufficient leadership and guidance from their management. Getting hold of that raw talent at such an early stage of their career is one of the biggest responsibilities we have in corporate life. It is not difficult to nurture people with the right competency set but the age old management pressures of a large team, vast geographical territory, time consuming internal meetings and personal account management (to name but a few) can lead to new recruits flying solo with some of our bigger accounts. For some time now I have wanted to catch my thoughts and share some of my own experiences in a short sharp summary of what can be expected during the first 100 days in a sales role, and list the five things I wish I had understood back in the early days of my sales career. I hope you find the document useful. Feel free to pass it onto any new recruits and if you would like to find out more about how Aspectus Associates could help develop your sales resource please drop us a line at and we will get back to you very quickly. Stuart Leven Director Aspectus Associates Consultancy / Training / Marketing

3 Get the business in! So you ve got the car keys, the statistics pack, the customer details and your product list. What more do you need? Get the business in! See you in a month. Aberdeen is that way! Yes, my first boss certainly knew how to motivate a new recruit and drive the best possible performance from him. This may seem a rather primeval way to induct a new sales person but it happened then, and elements of it still happen now. The reality of the situation is this. You are responsible for your own development in sales and there is no more important time than your first 100 days. You will find that the discipline of breaking your future career into clear focused targets over 100 day increments will help you grow and keep you on track for the next role up the ladder, but nothing is more important than your first steps on the road to success. Most people enter sales because they feel they are a good sales person. This may be the case but this opinion is generally based on personality and the natural skills you were born with. What you lack on day one are the technical skills that differentiate average and great sales people. Understanding customers needs, the difference between a feature and a benefit, dealing with objections, recognising a buying signal. Just some of the things you will come to learn during your induction as your technical skills grow to match your personal skills. But what can you do right here, right now to help yourself? Measuring Success Start by asking yourself a few questions 1. What does success look like for me? 2. What does success look like for my boss? 3. What concerns do I have? 4. What am I looking forward to the most? 5. Where do I want to be in three months time? Don t get question one and two mixed up. Your boss may have success measurements around the number of appointments you make, the revenue you deliver, the contracts you sign or the level of profit you contribute. He or she many even have a measurement around how well you are developing. These are business measurements based around his or her objectives. What you need to focus on are your own personal objectives and these should incorporate business and personal goals. At a recent workshop I conducted I asked a team of new sales recruits how they measure success. The answers were varied and generally unfocused. If I hit my targets As long as I feel happy Success is keeping the boss onside By the size of my bonus If my customers are happy, and I hit my numbers, then I am successful The last one had obviously read the manual before attending the course but the truth is that all of the answers are correct and measurement of your personal goals should be just that, personal.

4 What does success look like at home, at work and in all aspects of my life? People vary and it has to be your success criteria. One tip though; your success criteria as a base minimum should deliver what is needed by the boss. This is the best way to keep him / her onside! Keeping a record of your goals is important. The chart below is an extract from a personal plan completed by a new leisure sales executive who had just started her first sales role with a medium sized European airline. Period (days) Business Target Personal Target How did I do? Key learnings Overall Understand the product, my key customers, have plans in place and achieve growth in line with budget get my quarter one bonus! Stay fit, stay in touch with friends and family, keep my new boss happy and hit my Q1 targets so I get my bonus Overall happy with progress on both sides. Could have spent more time on my fitness and more regular customer contact I have to manage my time and be precious about it. If I don t I suffer and my customers suffer. Also, product knowledge is so important 1 to 25 Meet top ten customers and grow my product knowledge through test flights in all cabins Get at least three bouts of exercise per week Compromised a bit on the exercise in order hit customer targets Met some customers before knowing the product. Be less impetuous in future. 26 to 50 Develop account plans for top ten and get sign off from boss Attend my quarterly shopping trip to London with my friends Completed the plans, boss happy, made London Happy days Helping the boss hit his targets makes life easier 51 to 75 Sell in account plans to customers and agree actions for next 100 days Maintain exercise regime when on the road and spend a bit more time with family Struggling to find time for myself and finding travelling quite lonely. Account plans going well Need to make sure I have some time for me and my family. 76 to 100 Implement account plans and communicate on a weekly basis with each account Update my facebook site and keep in touch with my overseas pals Slipped a bit on the weekly communication due to internal meetings. Good period for personal targets Internal pressures can sometimes hinder customer progress. Need to raise this with boss This particular sales executive s line manager had a large team and couldn t give the time required to develop a very inexperienced member of staff, so she took it upon herself to develop her own plan split into 100 day increments. This allowed her to keep a watchful eye on her progress both in terms of her business and personal goals. Loneliness is the killer My first external sales role followed three years of internal sales based in an office with all of my chums. And there I was, off to Aberdeen, leaving friends and family behind a week at a time. Now I like to think I am good at making chums so the obvious solution to this problem (apart from many phone calls as we didn t have text back in those days) was to make some new chums. And that won t be too difficult because I have loads of customers who can be my chums when I am away from home. There is a fine line between networking and not working and the sooner you find it the better. Sometimes sales involves good news as well as bad. Telling a chum he is about to get a 9% price increase can prove more challenging than telling a customer. It s all about getting the balance right and as a general rule of thumb use the 80 / 20 rule. If 80% of the time you are talking about business, and 20% of the time you talk about other stuff you are hitting the mark. Consultative sales

5 people should use the 20% to build empathy with their customers and the rest of the time driving revenue. You should also find a sales buddy. This could be a colleague or a friend, but someone who has walked the walk, understands what you are going through and will give you the time at the end of a phone to help you with some early career challenges. You re new, and the customer knows it So who are you selling to? It could be anyone from a professional buyer to a PA / secretary. There is only one certainty; regardless of their competency level they have been doing this longer than you! One of the biggest factors which may impact on your effectiveness is knowledge. If you know your product and you have carried out sufficient customer research before crossing the threshold then you will appear confident and knowledgeable. This will undoubtedly remove the novice feel from the meeting and give you an air of confidence. Honesty is a given. It is far better to say I don t know the answer to that but I will find out and get back to you than to guess, make it up on the spot or apologies for your lack of knowledge. Do your homework, know your product, show empathy to your customer and professionally handle any knowledge black holes. If you do all of this then you are on the road to success. Be the best you can be Selling is a process and successful sales people rarely rely on gut instinct. You will build your sales skills over time but there is one thing you can do right now to get higher up the ladder than your competitors; get the basics right! Your goal is to be better than the last guy or the next guy through the door. And the best way to do this is to get the basics right, because few do. Return calls when you say you will, set an agenda for each meeting, issue minutes and actions, turn up on time, look the part, be responsive and practise great listening skills. By simply doing this you can steal the march on your competitors. If you be the best that you can be then you will thrive. Don t fail in this task just because you didn t do a little bit of research. Summary The first 100 days Your action five for success 1. Set your goals, personal and business 2. Develop your personal plan, monitor progress and track what you have learned 3. Find a sales buddy who you can share successes and concerns with 4. Know your product and know your customers 5. Get the basics right Follow the action five list and you will find the first 100 days of your sales career extremely fulfilling. And it doesn t stop there; at the end of day 100 give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done and start again on the next 100.

6 And when you feel ready, offer your services as sales buddy to a new recruit. It will be one of the most fulfilling things you will do in your career and will set you on the road to sales management. Good luck and happy selling!

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