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Before You Make Your First Sale

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Starting a new career is pretty unsettling. As a salesperson your job is to convince people to buy your company's product or service. That can be daunting, but rest assured you can succeed... and when you do make your first sale it's an incredibly good feeling! Just follow these steps to get started selling as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Get to Know Your Co-Workers

As the “new kid” there's a lot you can learn from your fellow salespeople. Get to know as many of them as possible... particularly the top producers! Take your team's sales superstar out to lunch or to the nearest coffee shop and pump her for information. Odds are she'll be flattered by the attention (and the free food) and will be happy to hand you some advice. If possible, ask to spend an hour listening to her phone calls or go along on her next appointment or two. Then take copious notes. After the appointment, ask her why she said or did this or that and soak in her accumulated wisdom.

Learn All About Your Products

You can't sell effectively if you don't know what you're selling. If your company has a customer service department, ask them to give you some details about your company's products and services. Once you feel comfortable with the basic features, make a list of possible benefits for each. Remember, features are the facts about your products; benefits are how the features affect the customer. Prestigious, saves time, saves money, secure, easy to use, and convenient are examples of the benefits your products might offer. Work these benefits phrases into sentences, like “This channel package saves you money by giving you the most prestigious sports channels at a discount.”

Understand Your Goals

Each industry tends to set different rules for its salespeople. Every company within an industry has a slightly different sales approach. Sales goals range from completely unstructured (“Sell as much as you can of any of our products.”) to tightly structured with specific quotas and requirements (“Every Wednesday you must cold call from this list until you get three appointments.”). If you don't understand the rules of the game, you can't expect to succeed. Bring any questions you might have to your sales manager right away.

Identify Your Resources

Many companies provide their sales teams with resources to help them sell effectively... from marketing materials such as brochures, to promotions and special deals, to lead lists of all kinds. Your sales manager is probably the best source of information for such items, but you'll also need to stay proactive because marketing resources tend to change frequently. Having a friend in the marketing department itself can be a big help as he can let you know right away about new offers and updated documents.

Set Your Attitude

You need to prepare yourself for the toughest part of the job: rejection. In many industries, the vast majority of your phone calls and appointments will not end in a sale. You must remember that if a prospect turns you down, they are not rejecting YOU. They're rejecting your offer because they don't want it at the moment. When a prospect says no, it might have nothing to do with you. They might be busy at the moment or just having a bad day. If you call back in two weeks and try again, the same person could be eager to buy. That's why self-confidence is vital to sales. If you have an unfortunate encounter with a cranky or downright hostile prospect, just shrug and move on to the next one.

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