10 Tips for the New Sales Professional

Written by Alan Kelly
[Contributing Author]

We all have our success stories of how we overcame obstacles and achieved our goals.  Some victories are small and others life changing.  I won’t bore you with the details of my career.  We all make our own luck.  Believe it… or not, my closing ratios, tactics, and philosophies might help someone wanting to get into the sales profession.  Truthfully, my crazy climb up the corporate ladder didn’t happen overnight.  However, it did happen rather quickly in my young life.  I would like to thank those of you I’ve worked under in the past.  The one’s who made a difference.  The one’s who cared, mentored, and led my career to greatness.  Yes, you know who you are.  This one’s for you.  If only someone would have told me these 10 simple things nearly a decade ago.  Thankfully, I listened as you taught.  But then again, maybe that’s why you taught me so much.  Maybe, it was because I listened.

1) We have two ears and one mouth. Have you have wondered why?  Apparently, God wanted us sales people to talk less and “listen” more.  This is true in life but more truthful in sales.  “Sellin’ ain’t tellin’… It’s askin’,” so be prepared to ask a lot of question and build value accordingly.

2) Don’t give it all away. If you have to give something away, make sure you get something in return.  This one gives us all fits.  Of course, we want to sell it probably more than the customer wants to buy it.  However, when they ask questions like “how much is it?”  Don’t start your pricing too high or too low.  What do I mean by this?  We’ll, you may have some great flexibility in your pricing model.  Come out with a normal market value.  If you have to give something away, try to get something back.  Ask for 3 referrals or something like that.

3) Desperation Reeks. Nothing smells worse than a desperate account executive working his/her pipeline.  A business prospect can smell it from a mile away.  Even if you aren’t busy in your planner at least appear like you are.  Selling is like dating.  It’s one big game.  If you act desperate, you probably aren’t going to make him or her fall for you.

4) The three C’s of pricing. Clear, Consistent, and Crisp.  Anytime you are ready to close a deal.  You better know how much your product sells for, know all the prices.  Make flashcards if you have to.  If a business prospect asks you how much your product or service is and you have to think for a minute, how confident do you appear in his/her eyes?  It makes you appear like a novice.  Even worse, it opens you up for unnecessary negotiation.

5) Network Your Sphere. There is something really special about the people who sell other products and services to your prospects and existing customers.  You should get to know them.  They represent a large circle of networking you should take advantage of.  Don’t just join networking groups.  Talk to your clients and ask them who else they like to do business with.  The chances are high in meeting other people who are just waiting for a great networking partner like you.

6) Walk out of every appointment a winner. How many times have you ever walked out of a business depressed?  You had the perfect appointment. Your proposal was excellent.  But, you didn’t get the deal that day.  First of all, don’t get too upset.  You must move on.  However, there is something you probably forgot to do on that appointment.  It sure wasn’t asking for the sell.  When you don’t get the deal at least ask for a follow-up appointment.  Be sure and schedule it that day when you have everyone in the same room.

7) Work With a Sales Trainer. Even Tiger Woods has a golf coach and trainer.  So why don’t you?  None of us are too good for this.  Many times sales people can’t let go of that ego.  You would be surprised what a 3rd person can do on the appointment to enhance your skills.  The business prospect is certainly not going to tell you what you’re doing wrong.  You better find someone that will.  Be prepared to be critiqued.

8) Know Your Comp Plan. How do you expect to make any money if you don’t know how you are paid?  Know your comp plan and revenue quota model forwards and backwards.  Let them both work for you.  You should look at the job like you are running your own business.  Someone once taught me, ”No one cares about your money like you do.”  Not even the sales manager.

9) Show Up With Your Gun Loaded. Wow, did I really just say that?  Yes, I did.  In our selling world the “gun” is you.  The “bullet” is the paperwork.  I have seen so many good sales reps not even show up for the appointment with paperwork.  What happens if the prospect wants to buy today?  Don’t leave it in the car.  Also, don’t forget the pen.

10) Show up, but don’t throw up! This could be the most important thing to be cautious of.  Even great sales people are guilty of this from time to time.  If you are there to tell the prospect all about what you can offer them, you have totally missed the whole selling process.  Ask 20 questions.  When you are done, try to ask 20 more.  Learn to probe.  Probing works for three reasons…

a. It keeps the prospect engaged.  You probably like to hear yourself talk.  But do they?

b. It is highly likely you will learn something about the business even if you think you know everything.

c. It helps build value.  There are tons of other people just like you selling the same product or service.  Is yours better?  This is a question the business will come to a decision on.  I can almost guarantee you the competitors aren’t doing their due diligence with building the value.  If they are, then you will probably lose the deal.

Alan Kelly is VP of Sales –Texas for First Data Corp.


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