We reached out to our contact base to ask a few questions about advice they’d received over the years on the topic of interviews and careers – and also what they’d recommend to others starting out today. The results were quite interesting!
This week, we’ve picked out a few comments from the results about what you would recommend to graduates looking to start a career in sales.
What would you say to new grads starting out today?
Here are the results from the survey:
“Focus on development, training and a committed on-boarding program to give you the greatest chance of success.”
Choosing a company for your first ‘proper’ job is all about looking at the long-term benefits. You might be focused on getting the highest salary, but an extra £1000 a year won’t make up for what you could learn with the right training and on-boarding program.
What development opportunities can your proposed employer offer? What training do they provide? Where could these new skills take you in the future?
The training you receive now will impact on the next job you take, and this compounds over time so make the right choice early on!
“In the world of sales, communication must be absolutely clear… Know the product or services you are selling – you should try to get as much knowledge as your pre-sales consultant.”
Don’t rely on having a great pre-sales consultant to back you up on the technical knowledge. Try to get as skilled as you can in the products you are selling; understand them, understand why customers need them and pitch the products yourself rather than leaving it to the techies every time. This helps you to better communicate your message to customers and makes you more self-sufficient.
“It’s about listening… not talking.”
We hear this a lot, but do we follow it? It’s easy to jump in and make assumptions during a customer conversation, but give your prospects room to talk and explain their views. Listen to their wider concerns; not just those that impact on your product or service. Watch, listen, observe, analyse.
“Don’t expect to be Sales Director in 18 months. There is so much to learn from so many people. Get a mentor and learn from their experience.”
Sales is fairly unique in that you can achieve in so many different directions: working on bigger accounts, being Account Director, working your way up the ladder into Sales Management. Focus on honing your craft, try not to move around too much and look for a mentor who can guide you through your career to turn it from being a job into a profession.
“Become an expert in a particular industry vertical.”
It’s not really about being an expert in an industry, it’s about being an expert in your customer’s organisation. If they are operating in the manufacturing industry, then get to know the sector and common challenges inside out. Then apply that knowledge to the next customer in the manufacturing industry and capitalise on the knowledge that you accrue.
It’s easier for customers to trust you if you are coming to them armed with knowledge about their industry, business challenges, objectives and needs.
Don’t leave it to your customer to do the hard work of educating you; educate yourself.
“If you’re going for your first sales job, really understand what the role entails day to day, i.e. is it a job making 40 cold calls a day.”
Don’t be lured in by the attractive OTE (on target earnings – usually base pay plus commission) with no idea about the work involved to reach it. Ask your employer what is involved in reaching and overachieving the OTE so that you can see if it is a realistic goal to work towards.
“Be prepared that you will have good and bad days and tomorrow is a fresh start & the next big deal could be around the corner.”
It’s easy to hear advice about getting back on the horse after losing a deal or having another customer put the phone down on you during your sales pitch. But that is sales; and there is always another customer and another deal to work on. Don’t let bad previous deals and experiences impact on your chances at your next deal.
“Making a mistake isn’t terrible as long as you learn from it.”
Sales isn’t as structured as some traditional graduate jobs – a lot comes down to your personality and communication style. So there is a degree of trial and error when starting out in sales to find out what works for you and your customer. Accept that there will probably be some hiccups along the way and learn and analyse what went wrong and how you can fix it for tomorrow.
“Keep asking questions on how you can get better and learn from what your peers do well.”
Ask your customers what you could do better on next time, ask them what they liked about working with you, ask them what they didn’t like about working with your competitor. Ask, ask, ask. Be receptive to feedback – you can’t take all of it on, but be open to finding out what you can do to improve.
Find out more about YourPrime Recruitment and how we are helping graduates find the right sales job for them: https://yourprimerecruitment.com/