Advice for New Salespeople

I received a Direct Message on my Twitter account the other day asking for advice for new salespeople. Now I can be pretty concise but geez, advice for new salespeople in 140 characters is way beyond me.

Since communicating in more than those 140 characters is why I started this blog in the first place I figured I’d answer here. So here we go!

My first and best advice is once you’ve earned the right to ask for the order always, always, always ask for the order. It is amazing to me the huge percentage of sales presentations that end without the salespeople asking for the order. It’s a fact that professional salespeople tend to get what they ask for and they always ask for the order.

My next best advice is never ask for the order if you have not earned the right. Screwing up a sales presentation and being unprepared to represent yourself and your product makes you look like a hack. Asking for the order anyway is what gives salespeople the poor reputation that we often have.

Now the tough part. How do you earn the right to ask for the order? That question alone could fill up several blog posts.  Maybe I’ll write again on this topic, but for for now let’s see how I do with this one.

Earning the right to ask for the order involves preparing for the call. Call preparation is where the majority of salespeople fall short. When you’re not prepared for the call you fail to make a good first impression, you fail to ask the type of questions to generate interest on the part of your prospect and you make such a generic sales presentation that you often miss the mark completely.

If you’re going to succeed in sales then you need to prepare for success. Preparing begins by learning as much as possible about your prospect before you make the initial call. There is more information available to you today than ever before; a simple Google search can provide you with enough basic information to know at least a little something before you introduce yourself. If your first question to your customer is “So, what business are you in?” you can be certain you have failed in what is known as pre-approach.

Next, do a little strategizing to determine what information you’ll need from your customer to help them see the value in your product or service. Determine the questions you’ll use to uncover that information. This step of the sales process, the information gathering part, is called many things by various sales training types but whatever you call it, this is the part where most salespeople lose the deal. They simply don’t have enough information about their prospect to know what they would buy and more importantly, why they would buy it.  Do not “wing” this part of the sales process, it is where business is won and lost.

Next, learn everything you possibly can about your products and the products offered by your competition. You’ll never present all of it to a prospect but knowing it allows you to piece together a presentation that “fits” with what your prospect told you during your information gathering step. If you do this well it will look like your product was made for that particular customer. If you’ve found the right prospect and selected the right product not only will it look like it, it will actually be true.

Once you’ve asked the right questions, hopefully better questions than any unprepared salesperson could ever ask, and once you’ve professionally presented your product (the right product for that particular customer) then and only then have you earned the right to ask for the order.

If you’ve earned the right and don’t ask for the order, for any reason, then you’ll likely struggle in sales as long as that’s your chosen profession. The most successful salespeople are fearless about asking for the order once they have earned the right.

If you’re going to succeed in sales you had best find your own fearless and use it everyday!

I could go on and on with advice for new and experienced salespeople alike but let me close like this:

Sales is an honorable profession if YOU make it one. There are plenty of things you can’t control about sales but you can always control yourself. You can decide how professional you will be, you can decide how honest you will be and you can decide if you’re only in it for the money or if money is just part of it.

Sales is either one of the easiest lower paying jobs in the world or one of the most challenging highest paid professions in the world. You get to decide which one it will be for yourself each and everyday!

9 thoughts on “Advice for New Salespeople

  1. All relevant.

    You’re right Steve, you could write several more posts to cover everything.

    I would add:

    1 – Not understanding the customer’s buying process.

    Most salespeople don’t get to uncover the customer’s decision process. This is key. What people are involved? Where are they located? Timing? Budget?

    2 – Not meeting with the decision maker

    The majority of salespeople go into an account just for the sake of activity. They’re all excited someone wants to speak with them they don’t worry about meeting with the right person.

    Who will make the decision? Who’s the sponsor of the project?

    I insist on meeting with that person.

      1. Ha! I know how to free up your Saturday’s! ;-p Maybe we can do it together. I’ll come from the coaching perspective.

  2. Just stopping by to say thanks for the great article. As a newly minted entrepreneur this is valuable advice. I have to work hard to embrace this very-necessary part of the business (sales). I choose to approach it not as “making sales” but instead as developing mutually beneficial partnerships. I deliver leadership development and management training for front-line managers in healthcare organizations so only when my clients experience results and success have I delivered results and success. “Be Fearless” is terrific advice that I need to remember daily. It’s now the new sign in my office. Thanks again! ~Joe

    1. You’re very welcome Joe. I must say your approach is spot on. The very best well to sell is not to sell, just help your prospect buy

      When your solution helps the prospect solve a problem, make more money or be more productive then your prospect will quickly become a customer.

      Stay fearless and you will succeed.

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