Early in my sales career I changed jobs every 18 months landing myself at 8 different companies over a 12 year span, which means I had a lot of #First90Days. The first question I would often get from friends and family is “why do you change jobs so often”? I am sure they thought it was because I couldn’t keep a job – rather than it was my choice to get a better job – but that is for another post.
There is no question that with each job change I was able to learn a lot on how to be better at selling. But what was even more valuable were the ‘soft skills’ – the people part of the business that really helped set me up for even greater success. There is no question that learning how to acclimate into any new ‘job’ is tough enough, but learning how to become part of a team full of big personalities, extremely competitive and highly driven ‘sales’ people will definitely keep anyone on their toes. And anybody who has ever been in sales, especially technology sales, you should totally understand what I mean.
The #First90Days for any sales person can be a gift (stay with me….). You will spend time training, learning products, systems and processes (ok maybe that isn’t a gift, but you get my point). It can include time shadowing other sales reps, listening into sales calls, conducting mock sales scenarios. But what it isn’t – is a quota fueled first 90 (and sometimes longer) days, filled with pipeline review meetings and the stress to hit your numbers. So what would be my advice to anyone who is about to embark on a new sales job?
Become who you aspire to be – You should take the #First90Days to personally push yourself beyond your comfort zone – move beyond what got you this job and the last job, and look out 3-5 years of who you want to be. A sales manager, leader, executive? In order to do that you have to try new things, take the clean slate of a new job as an opportunity to better yourself, and learn. Don’t only focus on the required ‘sales’ activities you will be asked to do, but become a student of your ‘future’ profession.
Treat the customer network you have built with respect – With each new sales job you have the opportunity bring your ‘Rolodex’ (wait….do Millennials even know what that is?) of customers with you (as long as you aren’t tied to a non-compete of course). And over time, that Rolodex of clients is part of the value you bring to your new employer. However, don’t make the mistake and reach out right out of the gate and expect that just because you have a new job that they will buy whatever it is you are selling. You need to think carefully about leveraging those relationships when appropriate and don’t abuse the trust they have put with you in the past too quickly. I would suggest sending a communication letting them know about your new position and how much you appreciated their support while you were at your last company, and provide them your new contact information. Let them reach out to you, or wait until you get your bearings and you really understand how what you are selling today can add value to their business. That way when you do reach out, you do it from a place of real benefit and not from a place of trying to sell something.
Introduce yourself to those who will be supporting you – Regardless of the fact that you and you alone may own your quota, sales is a team sport. There are so many parts of the company which support you every day whether you know it or not and getting closer to them is one of the best things you can do. There are the obvious places like product management, marketing and engineering which will be part of your extended team – but I am talking about finance, who helps you with pricing and turning around complex quotes faster, shipping and logistics, when you need a rush delivery handled, customer services, who your customers will often talk to. Figure out who those people are who are two steps removed from your day to day life and make sure you establish a relationship with them, otherwise when you really need help, you won’t know where to go.
Go sell something! – Last but not least, as sales people our careers are quite simple really. It doesn’t matter if you do all those things I suggested above, or anyone else has suggested in the #First90Days series – if you don’t hit your numbers – you will once again be faced with another first 90 days. So now it is up to you – Go sell something!