What should a salesperson expect from their first few days in a new sales role?


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This article was initially published in issue 10.1 of the International Journal of Sales Transformation. 

IJoST 10-1 cover 250x352I suppose this article could have been titled “what do I wish I had known or done in my first day as a salesperson?” – and maybe I might have benefited from reading it then. But that was a long time ago, and in a world far, far away – when both B2B buying and B2B selling were very different.

Whether it’s your very first job as a salesperson, or you’ve just moved from your previous sales role and started a new sales job in a new company, what you choose to know and do in the first few days in the role will establish the foundation for your future success (or, if you get these things wrong, may make it very difficult to succeed).

Hopefully, you will have already learned a lot about and from your new employer while you were applying for the job, navigating your way through their selection process, and deciding whether to accept their offer. On the basis of what you have discovered, you have concluded that this is an organization and a position that will allow you to achieve your goals and continue your personal development.

If you’ve made the right choice, one of the affirming pieces of evidence is likely to be that your new employer has a structured induction programme that is designed to enable you to come up to speed and to feel at home as quickly as possible. Clearly, you should take full advantage of this and participate in it enthusiastically.

Part of this induction programme should involve introducing you to your new employer’s history, vision and mission, their position in the market, their goals and ambitions, their offerings, and their processes. If any of this is missing, you’ll need to take the initiative and ask to be educated in these matters as soon as possible.

Don’t wait to be spoon-fed

But you shouldn’t rely on being spoon-fed with this essential information; you should demonstrate curiosity and take the initiative in learning about the things that structured induction programmes sometimes don’t cover – but which often prove critical to achieving your potential in any organisation.

Spend time with your manager. Find out about their career history and their motivations – what makes them tick? What are their expectations of you? How will they assess your success? What is their coaching style? What are they prepared to do to help ensure that you achieve your potential? Of course, in seeking answers to these questions, you will also be helping them to learn more about you.

Talk to your new colleagues. Find out what makes them tick. Ask them what they have learned about the keys to success in the role – and the things they have learned to avoid. Start to build a respectful rapport with them that will hopefully last throughout the time you work with them and beyond.

Learning from others – from their practical experience of the environment and the role – is one of the most effective ways of quickly figuring out what it is going to take for you to succeed in your new role, and of avoiding the errors that less curious newbies could perhaps all-too-easily fall into.

It also useful to identify and engage with the people who are regarded as helpful sources of information (often from outside of your immediate team) as well as the people that are seen by your new colleagues as key role models in your position.

Choose where to focus

Based on what you have learned – both formally and informally – you will need to make some decisions about where you can most productively focus your time and energy. Here are a few of the most important elements:

  • What are the key business issues that your organisation – and the offerings in your portfolio of “solutions” – have a proven track record of successfully addressing for your potential customers?
  • What are the common characteristics of the organisations in your territory that are most likely to be suffering from these issues and to want to deal with them – in other words, your ideal customer profile(s)?
  • What are the key roles within these promising potential customers that are likely to be responsible for addressing these issues – and to have the power, authority, and motivation to take action?
  • Finally, what are the trends, catalysts and trigger events that are likely to cause these targeted roles in these targeted organisations to conclude that they need to take action sooner rather than later?

Mastering the key business issues, ideal customer profile(s) and key roles will enable you to define your long-term target prospect list for your territory. This is where you should focus a progressive outreach programme.

Identifying and tracking the key trends, catalysts and trigger events that are affecting this long-term target prospect list will enable you to prioritise the specific roles within the specific organisations that are most likely to regard the issue as a current high priority.

The clearer your focus, the more effective you will be in generating a high-quality prospect list.

And if you have learned how the existing top-performers in your organisation have learned to qualify potential opportunities – what to look out for, and what to avoid – the more effective you will be in generating a high-quality qualified opportunity pipeline.

Plan your time

You need to translate what you have learned into simple territory, account and opportunity plans that enable you prioritise your efforts. Your new organisation may already have templates for this, but I’d encourage you to focus on actionable information that answers the following questions in simple, practical terms:

  • How are you going to target your prospecting efforts in your territory, which accounts are you going to prioritise, and what pipeline building activities are you going to implement?
  • For each targeted account, what are their key priorities, what are the most obvious areas of opportunity, and who are the key stakeholders?
  • For each active opportunity, what are your prospect’s desired outcomes, and how will you work together with them to ensure they are achieved
  • For each upcoming conversation, what do you and your prospect want to achieve, and what will you both agree to do next?
Avoid assumptions

In the first few days of any new job, it can be dangerously easy to rely on hope, and to make unjustifiable assumptions. You must quickly learn to look for tangible, verifiable, evidence to support any decision that you make. Hope – by itself – is no basis for a long-term strategy, but a recipe for failure.

Make sure you give back

In your first few days in your new role, you will be reliant on learning from others. But you must quickly pivot to sharing your experiences with your colleagues and helping them to learn from those experiences in order to improve their own performance.

The sooner you become a fully active team player – both benefiting and contributing – the sooner you will achieve your potential as both an individual and a valued colleague. That’s my experience – how does it relate to yours?

Find out more about the International Journal of Sales Transformation.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Apollo
Bob Apollo is the CEO of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, the B2B sales performance improvement specialists. Following a varied corporate career, Bob now works with a rapidly expanding client base of B2B-focused growth-phase technology companies, helping them to implement systematic sales processes that drive predictable revenue growth.


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