Starting a new sales job can be one of the most exciting and stressful times in your professional life. On the one hand, you're excited about all the new opportunities and challenges you're about to take on. On the other hand, you’re supplied with a quote from day one you have to hit. This can be a very stressful undertaking.
The amount of information you have to take in about the job is also overwhelming. From sales pitches to common practices, there is much to learn in those first few days. What exacerbates these issues is that you may not be familiar with the market or territory in which you are working. Becoming familiar with it will need to be your number one priority as it will be essential to work productivity and sell outcomes.
While you may receive some support from your manager and colleagues, being successful at your job is ultimately up to you. Work hard to succeed, especially if you are behind others in your sales group. The good news is that there are steps you can take to succeed. However, you’ll want to identify the common setbacks those in your same position experience and what causes them. This way, you can be prepared for roadblocks and be ready to act against them.
The Underlying Cause of the Problem
When most people start a sales job, they have no blueprint or roadmap in place. Without a strategy, you're just flailing around hoping that you figure it out. To succeed, you need a systematic process to follow. You also need behaviors and activities that will lead you toward your goal. These will make success inevitable.
All of this may seem overwhelming initially, but it’s important to get this planning out of the way. If you wait too long, it may be too late to dig yourself out of a hole. It may be tough at first; however, the good news is that there is a simple approach you can follow to help you stay on track.
According to researchers at the Association for Psychological Science, human brains break down activities into smaller, digestible chunks. This is known as 'event structure perception,' and we engage in this process actively throughout our daily lives.
That’s why the best thing you can do when you're trying to map out your first 90 days is to break things down into smaller parts and attack each part one at a time.
Event structure perception takes a lot of practice to use successfully. Remember that as we work on the next three months of your new job. As you break down the big pieces into smaller ones, try to practice the same technique on your own. You’ll be surprised how much you can train your mind in a short time.
Let’s get started on building a solid roadmap for the next 90 days at your new sales job. Are you ready for success?
Month 1: Find the 80/20
The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto principle, states that 80 percent of a given set of outputs are caused by a given set of inputs. Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered this principle in the 1800s after finding that 80 percent of land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. In any given sales organization, you'll see that 80 percent of sales revenue comes from 20 percent of the customers.
How can you become one of the 20 percent? It’s a large goal, so let’s break it down into some smaller, more attainable steps for success.
1. Talk to the Experts
One of the best things you can do that will save you an enormous amount of time is talk to the top sales producers in your company. Start by finding out what sales techniques work well for the top producers. Then, set up regular meetings with your manager or team leader.
When you speak with the top producers, you'll get direct access to the information that took them months or even years to learn. Plus, you'll start strong by building good habits. This can help you avoid rookie mistakes.
When you speak with your manager or team leader, obtain a list of a few people to whom you should reach out. Try to get on their calendar. These connections and information sessions will be essential to becoming part of the 20 percent.
2. Research: Find the Low-hanging Fruit and Make Contact
You'll want to go after prospects who have the best chance of converting first. This will allow you to get some good feedback and possibly put some points on the board quickly. Here's a natural progression to go through:
- Current customers: There's no better prospect than someone who's already given you money. The more recent their last transaction, the better.
- Former customers: Former customers are also a good set of prospects. They may have stopped their service for a variety of reasons, so approach them carefully. You could walk into a situation where the customer was upset or disappointed with a deal, product or solution. These can become hostile and unproductive quickly.
- Previously prospected customer: Customers who have been prospected by another member of your sales team may also be up for grabs. Perhaps their pitch didn’t take the right angle, or it’s been long enough that their situation and needs have changed. Either way, be careful not to step on anyone’s toes. The best bet is to clear anyone you want to go after with the previous salesperson. Chances are that he or she won’t care. The previous salesperson isn’t going to waste time on someone he or she has pitched to already.
- Cold prospects: These are the toughest accounts to break into since you have no established history. Try to find a way in through a referral or some common contact. You need to establish a form of context and deliver value every time you attempt to make contact. You’ll also want to filter out any prospects that don’t meet the profile for your ideal customer. This will save you a lot of time cold-calling or knocking on doors.
3. Focus on a Few Key KPIs
Within the first month of your new sales job, you'll want to find a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will lead you closer to your goal. This may be dials, doors knocks or social comments or replies made.
Overall, the metric should be something you have complete control over. For example, it's good to keep track of quality conversations, but that may not be the best metric to choose as a KPI. That is because you have no control over who picks up the phone when you call. You want to make sure you have 100 percent control over the outcomes of the KPIs that you choose.
Month 2: Focus on Execution and Measurement
Look into execution management. There are plenty of research papers and studies out there that can show you how to practice solid habits by focusing on execution. The main points that these studies make are that you should do the following:
Make a routine: Block off time in your schedule to work. Keep it consistent from week to week, if not month to month. You’ll also want to get rid of any distractions in your workplace. This could be a personal phone, children or creative stimuli.
Make measurements: Keep an accurate measurement of your activity. Log as you go along manually as updating the customer relationship management (CRM) tool is a pain, but it's crucial for your success. You can even use automatic logging. Just make sure you’re taking helpful notes. For example, did you leave a voicemail? Is your prospect out of the office that week? Did you leave a live message with someone? What were their name and title? Did you follow up with an email? This is all important information you’ll want to keep track of to be a successful sales agent.
Reflect on what's working: Put time into your schedule to review your results once a week and once a month. Then, get input from your manager or team leader as they often see things you can’t, so don’t skimp out in this area.
Month 3: Pipeline Development
After two months of activity and tracking, you should have a good set of data from which to make decisions.
1. Do More of What Works
At this point, you should identify key activities that are working for you. Are you targeting a particular ideal customer profile that's more responsive to the others? Is there certain messaging in your phone script that's resonating with customers? Maybe there's a prospecting cadence that seems to earn you more meetings. Is there a specific use case — or set of use cases — that's landing you more meetings in your prospecting?
It's your job to identify what's working, do more of it and get rid of whatever isn't bringing you toward success.
2. Get Feedback
Sometimes, you can be too close to the problem to see the solution. That’s why it's important to get the feedback of others when making your decisions. Reach out to a manager, team leader or co-worker you trust to give their objective opinion on your efforts. This will be some of the most valuable information you receive this month, so take notes and don’t dismiss any statement until fully assessing its validity.
3. Make Adjustments
It's hard to change, and it's easy to stay with the status quo. As salespeople, we often get stuck in certain routines. Even if they’re unproductive, their familiarity calls us back. Although growth can be uncomfortable, if you want something you've never had before, you're going to do things you've never done.
Also, don’t let fear hold you back from trying new things. Just make sure that your experiments are quick and that you measure effectively. This way, you can make accurate judgments based on the data. Then, adjust your sales strategy accordingly.
Your approach will likely change as you go. Therefore, you'll want to make sure you pay attention to the results you're getting.
Inevitably, some months will be better and others, so you'll want to put systems in place to help you deal with the highs and lows. You want to make sure that your focus is always on something you can control, like the number of dials or number of touches you're making on an account. There are a thousand different things that can cause a deal to fall through. That’s why making something like closed deals or money as your focus can lead to a lot of frustration. Instead, always try to focus on what you can control and not what you can't.
What do you do to ensure success in the first 90 days of a new sales job?
Morgan helps B2B SaaS companies generate leads and make sales with outbound prospecting. He's based in Chicago, IL and you can get in touch with him at morgandwilliams.com.
On his website, you'll find his cold email case study: How to Use Automated Cold Email Marketing to Spend $166.70 and make $3,435.30 in Profit (2,061% ROI).