1. Don’t barf on the customer’s shoes.
2. Dismal failure is highly unlikely.
These are the two most basic lessons new sales reps need to understand before going to their first solo sales appointment. New salespeople are nervous, to say the least (hence the vomiting advice)! As a manager, it’s up to you to set your new sales reps up for success.
Maybe you’re a manager who attempts to tell new hires all you know about sales before their first appointment. Or maybe you’re the type who kicks them out of the nest to see if they fly.
The key is to find the balance — new sales reps need guidance, but you don’t want to overwhelm them with new information. Here’s how to be the leader they need and four essential tips to get them started.
Be the Leader New Sales Reps Need
Inexperienced sales reps look to their sales managers for leadership. As a manager, you need to coach them in the skills it takes to be successful: consistent work ethic, deliberate work flow, strong listening skills, and realistic expectations.
Set clear expectations.
Be clear about what each salesperson should be doing with their time. Then inspect what you expect. If you expect someone to meet ten new prospects a week, check to see whether they’ve done it.
Explain the value of activity.
There’s more to the sales process than closing a deal. Just because the prospect doesn’t buy, doesn’t mean the sales rep wasted time. There’s value to each step of the process. Explain the different types of value each interaction offers: the prospect knows who you are, they’re in your nurturing process, and they may lead to a referral.
When you go to the first few appointments with your new sales reps, take a step back and observe. By doing so, you don’t compromise their authority with the prospect. If you interject and take charge, the prospect will want to work with you, not them.
More importantly, you model how to listen. Listening is an essential sales tool. As a salesperson, you have to listen to prospects so you can learn about their needs and figure out how to meet those needs. By listening to your reps, you teach the value of listening by example.
Tell them the realistic outcomes.
What can a new rep realistically expect from their first appointments? If they think they’re going to close a deal during their first meeting, they’ll likely be very disappointed. Then reassure them they won’t completely fail.
Four Tips That Lead to the Right Mindset
To really help new sales reps enter their first appointment with the right perspective, share these four tips. It’ll help them see the big picture without getting overwhelmed.
1. You can’t lose what you don’t have.
Let’s say you cold-call someone — you don’t have their business anyway, which means there’s nothing to lose. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Just by going to the appointment, you’re better off.
2. Set easy goals.
Your goal for a first appointment isn’t to make a sale. The goal is getting the prospect to agree to the next phone call or meeting. It’s an easy win — be brief, be brilliant, and count it as a success.
Keep setting easy goals the whole way through the process. Every time you meet a simple goal, it’s a win! These baby steps help a new salesperson focus and lead prospects to buy. Buyers need someone to guide them through the sales process — and easy goals do just that!
3. No one will remember your screw-ups.
It’s unlikely you’ll see your prospects again. You won’t run into this person weeks from now and hear, “Stop! You’re the idiot who messed up that appointment!” It won’t happen.
4. End with action.
Always end sales conversations with a next action. Even if a prospect seemingly turns you down, you can end the appointment gracefully with a next step.
If they’re on board and say, “Let’s get together sometime next month to keep talking about this.” Say something like, “Great. Let’s get it on the calendar. What about Thursday the 15th at 10:00?” Set a specific date and close the loop.
If they’re not interested, you can still have a next step and closure. Maybe they say, “My brother-in-law handles this need for me. I’m not going to mess up our family dynamics, so I’m not going to buy from you.” You reply, “I totally understand. Here’s what’s going to happen. Keep my contact info in case you get in a pinch and we’ll touch base down the road.” They agree to it, and you close the loop.
Always have a next action, tell them what it is, and get them to agree. Don’t be bossy — just be organized.
Empowering young salespeople has benefits for everyone involved. The more successful they are, the more successful your company. Plus, if they’re successful and supported by your team, they’ll likely stick around (which means you’ll spend less time training replacements).
Do you have other newbie sales tips that have worked for you? Share them with us in the comments below!