New Year - new Technology Sales job?
You've recently joined a Technology organisation in a Sales, Business Development or Account Manager role. First impressions are very important with your customers and prospects, but are also extremely important with your peers and managers at work. You want to make a confident start, as early impressions will form, and people will often select elements of your subsequent behavior and style to support their initial impression of you. How you approach your first 30 days can make a significant difference in your time at the company, and can set you up for success, or a struggle. Someone in Technology sales who is perceived as being: a. motivated b. structured c. clear thinking d. positive e. a team player will quickly be 'marked' as a good hire. One of the beauties of sales is the transparency of achievement; your activity, what you sell, and your position in the company 'sales performance league table' is clear for all to see. In order maximise the impact of your important first 30 days in a new company, many successful salespeople will do some or all of the following: a. Build relationships All large Technology companies, and most Technology SMEs, have an induction policy. This will usually include introducing you to your team, and to other relevant work colleagues. However, you should never miss an opportunity to introduce yourself; we work in sales, and confident salespeople are expected to come forward and engage. It is invaluable to arrange one-on-ones with your team, internal customers and support staff. Taking notes will help you to correctly remember the key information provided to you. Listen carefully when you meet people. It is easy to talk too much at people when you first join a new company; this is often the result of nerves, and a lack of confidence that flows from being in an alien environment. It is however, very important to listen. The introductory meeting balance should be them speaking more; they are already employed at the company, and will have an informed, personal view of their workplace. A skeleton agenda for you to follow in your introductory one-on-ones is usually a good idea. A good question sometimes is “what can I do to make your life easier?” You’re showing that you’ve here to help, not to command. How they answer is almost as important as what they say. Your primary goal for the first month is to effectively join the team. b. Know when to ask questions As a new hire, there are a lot of things you will not know. This can range from not understanding how to use the phone system to being unsure of the organisation’s strategic direction and priorities. You want to make sure you’re asking questions the right way, or else you may start to annoy your colleagues. One approach is to write down your questions. After you have a list of questions collected, you will be prepared to approach your manager with an organised list, demonstrating structure and planning, and time efficiency. As your manager answers your questions, make sure to take careful notes and listen for how they found the answer. That way, you may not have to ask them for help next time! c. Understand the expectation Completely understand what you are being asked to do (what are your targets, KPIs, expected inputs, expected outputs, quantitative goals, qualitative goals). Many salespeople are not clear on this initially, and 'do things' that they think the employer is looking for, rather than focus on the real objectives. Clarity of expectation is essential to succeed in any new role. You’ve been hired to fill a hole, and unless you are in a trainee or graduate program, there will be organisational pressure for you to contribute almost immediately. Review your objectives with your manager to make sure they have the right expectations for what you’ll be doing, and be entirely clear on your work objectives and targets. d. Produce a 30/60/90 day plan This focuses on your intial period in the new organization, and has the benefit of showing what you plan to achieve in this period (this could be completing training assignments, meeting prospects, meeting colleagues, sales, or other relevant tasks). The key is that you have thought about how to use your initial time, and planned your activity to achieve maximum impact. This shows you to be proactive, motivated and structured, as well as providing a template for you to action tasks that will make you more productive more quickly. Many companies are impressed by new sales staff who grasp the initiative in this way, and demonstrate planning, a key attribute for any salesperson. Sharing and reviewing your plan with your manager should certainly enhance your standing early on. e. Resist the urge to change things immediately If you are in a more senior sales or sales management role, it is not usually a good idea to start making significant changes within your first few weeks of employment. Your ideas and thoughts will be better formed and tested after you have had a chance to settle in, gain credibility, establish relationships and absorb all of the nuances of your new role. You will also be demonstrating that you are a good listener. Start planning your actions and building your case, but do not execute in the first week or two of employment! f. Set some personal goals Changing jobs can make you feel heroic about some things and unsure about others. This is a good time to set some personal development goals. For example: What is one thing you do really well that you want to continue to do? How are you going to stay in the habit of doing that? What is one thing you need to improve at? What steps are you going to take to get better, and how are you going to measure your progress? g. Be professional It is always a good idea to never compromise on the fundamentals of professionalism: be on time for everything, be accountable for your work, be extremely respectful of your colleagues, and think before answering questions (or saying anything)! Successful sales professionals often end up working long hours, and it’s neither fun nor realistic to only talk about work. You should selectively let your colleagues know a bit more about you; it will humanise you and make you more fun to be around. It can be difficult to strike a good balance, so to make sure you’re on the right side of 'casual', watch the behavior of people who are admired at all levels of your organisation, and emulate them. This may mean telling your co-workers about a non work-related interest, or buying beer for your colleagues at the end of a particularly challenging (or successful!) week.