Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Advice for Young Salespeople from 9 Sales Veterans

Much has changed in the sales game over the years, and much has stayed the same.
We asked these sales veterans for tips for the young salesperson.

Questioning and listening skills are vital. Close behind that would be pricing integrity.
A young salesperson can learn a lot from veteran salespeople who not only genuinely listen to understand, but also are disciplined enough to not rely upon discounting.
Nothing is more vital to a salesperson’s career than their ability to question, listen and become keenly focused on the desired outcomes of the customer. Combine this with a strong commitment to the pricing structure, and the young salesperson is likely to experience success.
~ Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter 

NOTHING.  Except the hard-fought notion that success demands hard damn work.  Even if what you see is good for someone else, that doesn’t mean it is going to work for you.  Times change. Tactics change. People change.
So spend less time copying (or even learning) and more time pushing your limits.  Stop looking for a path forward and get good at leaving a trail.
Dan Waldschmidt

Always prepare for each sales call, no matter how well you think you know the customer, no matter how successful a salesperson you become. Treat everyconversation you have as though it is the first time you met that customer, so that you listen to what is being said and remain engaged. In each meeting or conversation you have with customers and prospects, something has changed, something new is said, there are different circumstances surrounding the context of the meeting. It’s up to you to pick up these subtle differences. Be fully focused.
Nothing is ever the status quo, even when you think you are dealing with same-old, same-old. Listen with “new ears” and intercept new selling opportunities. Always bring some “news” to the table, as well: a trigger event impacting the industry, a piece of information about competitors relevant to your customer, an update about an HR issue from a few meetings back. If you remain “fresh”, both you and your customer will always be looking forward to your next meeting.
~ Babette Ten Haken, Sales Aerobics for Engineers

If I had to pick one tactic, it would have to do with that supposed antiquated piece of equipment that still sits on most desks today: the telephone.
The telephone was invented way back in 1876 and until the past ten years or so, it was regarded and respected as an incredibly effective tool of the sales trade.
In spite of what many of the loud voices, false teachers, and Kool-Aid peddlers of today’s “Inbound Marketing Only” crowd are preaching, the old-fashioned proactive telephone call still works quite well when executed properly.
Pick up the phone. You’d be amazed what you can do with it – and what it can do for you!
~ Mike Weinberg, The New Sales Coach

PorterRelationships do still matter and trust is everything. Top veterans have unparalleled style and charm. If you can combine their top qualities with those of the next generation technical seller, you’ll be crushing quotas in no time!
~ Kyle Porter, Sales Loft

BarrowsWhichever ones that work.  As a young sales rep I would constantly ask questions and put myself in a position to learn from the best reps inside and outside the company. 
I would listen in on their calls and presentations, I would try to grab coffee or lunch with them and ask them about what they do that works.  I would write everything down and then try out the different ideas and techniques to see if I could fit them into my approach and make them my own .  Here’s a “tactic” that has made a huge difference for me in my career: set SMART goals and hold yourself accountable.
~ John Barrows
IrreverentBe quiet. Be prepared. Be on time. Send a hand-written thank you note.
~ Dianna Smith, The Irreverent Sales Girl



That depends on who the expert is and where the young salesperson is in their career.  The advice I give is, just because someone has been around a longtime doesn’t mean they are good.  Find the best of the best and learn from them, regardless of how old they are and how long they’ve been selling.
~ Jim Keenan, A Sales Guy

This question is a trap for me. Young salespeople are being sold the line that the things that used to work in sales no longer work. They're being told that social selling and inbound marketing have replaced the need to pick up the phone and call your dream client. I know this is unpopular. But there's an important lesson here.
The new tools, like social media, blogs, and LinkedIn, are merely amplifiers. They amplify what you already are. If you don't have both sales acumen and business acumen, the new tools amplify your inability to create value.
The veteran salesperson has the ability to create value for their clients. That's how they won those clients, and that's how they retained them. If you want to study what allowed the proven veteran to succeed, then study their ability to make a difference for their clients. Once you've done this, then you can transfer that value creation over to social selling. But until then, the best thing you can learn from the veteran is how to sell.