Things I wish I had known before starting my first job as a sales rep
Sales is a challenging field and an abundance of positive energy is essential for success. Sales reps need to be “on” for each customer and ready deliver to each based on their individual needs. Below is a list of some challenges I faced early in my career and the ways that I learned to manage them.
• Speaking with unhappy customers. Possibly once or even several times a day, you will encounter individuals who are frustrated or just having a bad day. Beware, they may take it out on you! Don’t succumb to frustration; you are undoubtedly doing your best to be upbeat and helpful. The reality is that some people will not be willing to accept anything you say.
• Making a high volume of calls in a day. Most call centers expect anywhere from 70-200 calls per day. To be successful, you will need to keep up with this expectation.
• Dealing with Rejection. Depending on the position or role, you may experience quite a bit of rejection. If your responsibilities include making cold calls and converting to a sale, you will hear “no” much more often than “yes”.
• Not knowing how to answer a certain question or deal with a situation. It’s inevitable that you will be asked a question or confronted with a situation that is beyond your level of knowledge or experience.
• Learning a lot of new information. Success in sales requires an understanding of the product or service you are selling, it’s benefit to the customer and the competitive landscape. That can be a lot to learn when you are starting a new sales position.
How to Adapt and Thrive
Stay Focused and Driven
• Stay Focused. Be on guard to distractions in your work environment. Set yourself up for success by organizing your desk and computer(s) in a way that allows you to work efficiently. Plan your day well. The most successful salespeople know that it is best to get a large block of calls out of the way in the beginning of the day, when you are feeling fresh and full of energy.
• Learn to dig deep and keep moving forward. This tip is key those who are making cold calls and facing rejection daily. Develop a success mind-set and find the determination you’ll need to keep making calls and working towards that one “yes”.
• Motivate yourself by setting attainable goals. Goals need to be realistic and attainable in the time-frame you choose. Good examples are a goal of making 2 sales deals every day or making 50 calls before lunch. This will help you measure your success, and you will feel motivated every time you meet your personal goals.
• Remember your script and stick to it, especially when dealing with an unsettled customer. Write or type out your script and include answers for any of the common questions customers tend to ask. It reinforces the script and supporting information in your memory helps you to be prepared for any situation.
• Proceed with caution. Don’t hesitate to politely ask a customer to hold so that you can consult with another team member or your manager if you are unsure of how to handle a situation. Your team is your greatest, and it is always better to take a moment to confirm next steps than to rush into making the wrong decision.
• Stay calm. If a customer is emotional and upset, do not match their tone. Stay upbeat while acknowledging the problem. Attitude can be contagious and it can be tempting to get on the customer’s level. But, staying even and calm sets the tone that you and the conversation will stay on a professional level. No matter how combative the customer is, you will never regret maintaining professionalism in a heated situation. You will, however, most certainly regret not staying professional!
• Look to your team. Your manager and your teammates truly are your best resource. Managers and more experienced teammates are a fountain of knowledge, and it would be unwise to forget this valuable resource.
• Speak up. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions or ask for advice. You can’t improve if you don’t ask about what you don’t know. Asking is the only way to make sure you are doing something right. It’s always better to ask than to make a mistake!
• Solicit feedback. Get feedback from your manager and ask them how you can improve. Your manager works with you daily, so they are a great resource for helping you to hone in on your skills and help you to improve upon your weaknesses. Always try to be open to the feedback and be willing to make a change.
• Keep learning. Ask about additional training material or courses that might help you improve your work. Typically training resources are available in videos or as print reading materials, so there are often several ways to access them. If your company offers training programs, be sure to utilize and optimize any opportunities to learn and grow!
Tap Into Your Emotional Intelligence
• Tap into a customer’s needs. Try to make a connection with the person on the phone and realize what it is they need in that moment. Do they simply want to be heard and express their frustrations? Do they need some information or just some reassurance?
• Establish credibility. Set yourself up as someone the customer can trust by being professional and knowledgeable. If there is a question you can’t answer, avoid saying things like “I don’t know” as that takes credibility away from you. Politely ask to place them on a brief hold and use your team as a resource to answer the question.
• Begin and end with the customer in mind. Always bring the conversation back to the customer and how you are trying to help or serve them. Tell them they are appreciated and make yourself available to help them in any way you can.
• Practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes in the beginning, after a while you will have a response for pretty much every situation.
• Recognize that tone and attitude are everything. The customer will be able to sense your attitude through your tone, even if you think you may be hiding it.
• Adopt the mind state of going with the flow. Change is constant. There may be a change within your team or you may find yourself working with a new team. Don’t be rattled by change. Be open and accepting to change and make the most of it.
• Take good care of yourself. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, being mindful of your health.
• Take breaks. Every so often, get up and stretch or walk around. Go outside on a break for fresh air. Small breaks keep you refreshed and focused. If you feel upset after a difficult call take a break or talk to a friend.
• Exercise and get moving. Choose activities that are enjoyable to you. Take a yoga class, ride your bike, or go to the gym outside of work.