My first days in sales were a mess and I did not achieve quick success but persisted in my pursuit. What could help me achieve success quicker? I wasn’t sure of the answer but knew it was available because of seeing other’s success. I was fresh, raw, and untrained.
On my first day on the job, the Sales Manager said, “Here’s your catalog, there’s your territory. Now go forth and sell.” That was the complete sales training program in a nutshell. I was lost and it took me several weeks to make the first sale. A kind woman took pity on me and bought one case of toilet paper. I thought to myself, “This is not working.”
The First Problem
The problem was I didn’t know how to get better. Some of the products were familiar and I knew the assigned territory but was unfamiliar with sales. I was told, “Cold calling is the answer,” but how did I approach an unknown prospect. How can I become good at cold calling when I didn’t know how to get there. I needed help fast.
Automobile University to the Rescue
Someone mentioned “Automobile University” and explained the concept. Zig Ziglar, famous for coining “Automobile University,” was my first mentor in sales. At the library, I checked out cassette tapes by Zig, Tom Hopkins, and Brian Tracy and listened to each tape repeatedly. The ideas were new and refreshing to me and I began to gain confidence in approaching new prospects. The more traction I made, the more sales I made.
It was finally coming together.
The Big Breakthrough
My biggest breakthrough came later when Tom, the VP of Sales from corporate, called and wanted to spend a few days with me. Two days with him was a degree in sales education. I learned more about selling in two days than the total of my previous time selling for the company. It was unbelievable.
After the two days of personal one-on-one coaching and teaching from Tom, my sales took off. It was the beginning of a long, successful career in sales with several companies.
One-on-One is Best
For me, one-on-one work was the best that could happen. It was personal, encouraging, and intense. And it worked.
In those few days, I learned:
- How to make first-contact and get appointments.
- How to line up demonstrations and show equipment in its best light.
- How to positions my products and
- How to close the sale.
It was remarkable.
That experience inspired me to get better and then pass on my knowledge to others. I quickly moved into teaching roles, working with new sales reps. This eventually led to a Sales Manager’s position with another company.
New salespeople have the biggest challenge. Most companies just “throw them into the deep end and expect them to sink or swim” in their first month or two. From my experience, it will not happen. Training is essential in several areas.
- Product Knowledge
- Territory Management
- Prospect Management
- Customer Management
- Sales Management
- Delivery Management
- After Sale Management
Not to mention Sales Skills. such as positioning and questioning. Without which the others are unnecessary.
All of these are topics I will address here to help new salespeople get some of the one-on-one I got that supercharged my sales career.
Questions are welcome and no, there are no “stupid” questions. Only questions your are not sure of the solution. Let’s talk about it.