So, you’ve landed a sales job. Mazel tov!
Now, it’s time to start working. If you want to succeed in your new position, you’ll need to do some early legwork so you get off to a strong start. Here are nine items for your to-do list:
1. Find a mentor and take advantage of their knowledge.
An internal mentor is critical for helping you to get accustomed to company culture. Your immediate supervisor might be able to serve as your mentor. Have an honest conversation with them about what kind of mentorship you can expect from them. You might also be assigned a mentor.
If you’re not receiving mentorship through those channels, seek out your own mentor. Find a top-performing sales representative whose personality seems to mesh well with yours. Cultivate a relationship with them and ask them if they’re willing to provide mentorship. Frame the relationship as mutually beneficial and make it clear your respect their time. For the mentorship relationship to work, your mentor should be invested
Once you have a willing mentor, leverage their knowledge. Try to meet regularly and pick their brain on any issues you experience as a new sales rep. With their permission, you might even shadow them on a sales call or demonstration so you can see how they work.
When opportunities arise, give back to your mentor. You might put in a good word with their supervisor, for example.
2. Get to know the key decision-makers within the sales department and company.
Your first few months on the job is a prime opportunity to introduce yourself to critical decision-makers. Introduce yourself to the most important players in sales. At early-stage startups, it’s also advantageous to get to know the founders and other higher-ups.
If you’re not sure about how best to approach someone, ask your mentor or another coworker for advice. You don’t want to overwhelm anyone with chitchat, but showing yourself to be friendly and a team player can only help your future at the company.
3. Carefully observe company operations.
Even if you’re coming into this position with prior sales experience, don’t assume that you know how things work at your new company. During your first weeks on the job, consciously observe what goes on around you.
Take note of your supervisor’s management style, the relationship between leadership and other employees, growth trajectory, and overall company culture. Again, your mentor is a helpful resource, but don’t just rely solely on someone else’s analysis. By developing a deep understanding of your company, you can also understand how you can fit into the culture and become a great contributor.
4. Work on establishing trust with your coworkers.
Sales is a team sport, so it’s critical that you establish yourself as a great team player. Some simple ways to do this:
- Learn everyone’s names, and use them when appropriate.
- Volunteer to do small things that help out the sales team and prove your value. Even if you’re just picking up coffee orders for the sales meeting, that will do a lot to build goodwill.
- Congratulate other people on their accomplishments. You might even consider keeping a bottle of wine in your desk so you can break it out for big deals.
- Ask others for advice and thank them. Then when you succeed, credit everyone who helped you.
5. Become familiar with software and tools used at the company.
While you’ll do a lot of learning on the job, it’s helpful to set aside time specifically for learning the CRM and other sales tools. Even if you’re familiar with the software, your new company is likely using the tools in different ways. Failure to understand the technology can adversely impact your performance.
To learn the software, take advantage of tutorials and other resources. You may also ask a coworker for assistance—with the understanding that you’ll repay the favor in the future.
6. Take inventory of all resources available to you.
You’re surrounded by people and resources that can help you make sales. This includes marketing, the customer success team, product development, and others. But every company has different procedures for collaboration during the sales process. Before diving headfirst into the sales trenches, make sure you understand how all of the different resources fit into the process.
Develop relationships with people who can help you make a sale. As with all other new professional relationships, make sure you’re offering something in return.
7. Delve into case studies and customer success stories.
Learning about the product will be a major task for the first few months. Since effective storytelling is such a big part of selling, it’s particularly helpful to master customer success stories. Read every case study you can get your hands on. If you can, it’s even better to talk with your happiest customers. More experienced salespeople and customer success team members are also an invaluable resource for anecdotes. Create a repository of these stories, either mentally or in a document for your own reference.The more specific information you can compile about successful customers, the better.
8. Establish expectations for your performance during the ramp-up period and beyond.
Misunderstandings during the ramp-up period can kill your chances of job success like nothing else. You and your manager should both understand what you need to accomplish during the ramp-up period, along with how long it will last. Check in on your progress regularly, not just at the end of the quarter. If something isn’t working, you and your manager should work together to create a plan for your development.
9. Get used to tracking your numbers.
Sales numbers can be scary. But that’s exactly why you need to gain familiarity with the system for tracking your metrics. You should also find out what typical metrics are at your company so that you can make sure that your numbers are on par once you’ve ramped up. This will help you to plan your activities each month and put you on a path towards success.