By Daria H.
This May Be a Rough Takeoff
Making stupid mistakes is part of the rookie sales experience; surviving this gauntlet of trial and error is a tricky rite of passage for us all. If you’re new to selling, you will do some dumb things, and there’s just no way around it. Trust me; I’m not making this up. Thankfully, every mistake offers valuable lessons to those wise enough to look for them. Let’s take a look at some rookie ridiculousness, shall we? Bombs away!
Communication is the heart of sales. Rookies know their products backwards and forwards, inside and out (upside down at three in the morning with a partridge in a pear tree), but they often don’t build a rapport with prospective customers. Understanding the product is vital, obviously, but it takes excellent interpersonal communication skills to excel in sales. A productive conversation involves listening! Let the client talk and listen for information that can help you move product. Ask questions! Everyone loves talking about themselves, and your mark will think you and your product are the bees knees if you respond to what they’re saying and tailor your proposal accordingly. Kind of like being on a first date, isn’t it?
2. Poor customer data collection
Never underestimate the power of a database! Current customers can be a major source of revenue, and recording their purchases will help you tailor new proposals to the customer’s needs. Keep track of everything, and I really do mean everything! I usually include a photograph of each client because it helps me remember who they are and what they’ve purchased in the past. If you run across your client at a social event and you’ve memorized their face, you won’t miss out on the chance to make contact. Your customers will be flattered and impressed that you know who they are.
3. Don’t rely too heavily on any one medium, especially the Internet
The Internet makes it fast, easy and almost free to post classified ads, maintain social network profiles and send out piles of mass emails. Don’t get me wrong; you’d be an idiot to discount the importance of online sales, but you’re also a fool to use only the Internet. Competition for the top search engine positions is ruthless. Ruthless! Use the Internet as one component of a diversified strategy. Don’t live and die by Google’s search algorithms.
4. Early birds get the best worms
Punctuality is incredibly important for salespeople, which hopefully I don’t even have to say. Arrive early to meetings and be ready for conference calls with time to spare. Remember that punctuality extends to emails, phone calls, and even text messages, particularly during business hours. Customers who have to track you down won’t be your customers for much longer.
5. Know thy target
Getting a new lead is exciting stuff, especially for neophytes. It’s vital, however, that in the midst of your adrenaline rush you remember to do some research about exactly who will be at the other end of your sales pitch. Knowing their name and title is only the beginning; savvy salespeople arrive at meetings already knowing what type of authority – and how much of it – their target has.
A slice of humble pie
If you’re new to sales, just accept this now: you’re going to screw up. Maybe even a lot. It’s par for the course, and if you keep thinking critically you will enjoy increased success. It’s impossible to fix a problem without first admitting that you have one, so do your best to keep your pride in check and your eyes and ears wide open.