Gear Load-Out for Outside Sales Pros: 11 Essentials to Have With You in the Field

Gear load out

We’ve all seen the frumpy sales guy come into a meeting fumbling through his stuff. His pen doesn’t work, he’s scattered, and his breath stinks. Don’t be that guy.

You want to be the guy who walks into a meeting cool and calm. You know your stuff and you’ve got the right stuff.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A Mobile Device

A mobile device is a must. Have it charged and ready to access your calendar, email, and a speech-activated CRM. But keep it in your pocket until it’s relevant. Turn all notifications off and resist the temptation to check it haphazardly.

Only pull it out when you need to send your contact information to the person you’re meeting or look at your calendar.

A Swiss Army-Style USB Charging Knife

Keep a swiss army-style charger in your pocket. You probably won’t need it since your phone is already charged, but someone else in your meeting might.

Digging for a charger is a sign of inferiority. Sure, people have legit excuses about why their phone isn’t charged, but it makes them look bad. Pulling out the cool charging knife shows you are one step ahead of the world. If someone’s phone dies, just toss them this tool and move on.

Five Sugarless Breath Mints

With breath mints on hand, you keep your fresh breath AND you have a literal exit strategy in your pocket. If the meeting is going long, keep listening intently while you pull out a breath mint, pop it, and lean back in your chair. They’ll take the hint and start wrapping up.

Pro Tip 1: Take mints out of the package so they don’t rattle. Either put them in a plastic bag or an immaculately folded napkin.

Pro Tip 2: Only buy sugarless mints — sugar causes bad breath so you’ll end up with worse breath than you had before.

Two Pens

Sales meetings aren’t the place for your Mont Blanc, but you will need two functional pens. You don’t want your pen to distract anyone from the conversation. You want them to focus on you.

And if one runs out of ink, you have another.

Two Sheets of Folded Copier Paper

Take these two sheets of paper, and fold them into a square. Leave them in your jacket pocket — don’t just set them on the table. When you need to take a note, pull them out and write down what you need. Do not unfold them unless you’re just refolding to get a clean space. After you jot down your note, put them back.

Why plain paper? Sheets of paper are easier to deal with later. If you write your notes in a journal, you may just tuck it away and forget about them. But if you have loose paper, you’ll read it right away and do what’s needed.

Plus, journals and legal pads make you look like a secretary — you’re not. Don’t try to take minutes on the meeting. If you’re only writing down selective notes, it’ll highlight what you’re paying attention to. And it’ll make the things you write down seem more important.

Five Tissues

If you need a tissue during the meeting you don’t want to pull out a bulky tissue packet, but you also need enough for yourself and to offer to someone if they need it. I always put tissues in my back left pocket with nothing else. Then, when I pull them out, nothing else comes with it.

And don’t use a handkerchief — they’re outdated and kind of gross.

Five Business Cards

Don’t hand your business cards out like candy. These are a last resort — only hand out a card if someone directly asks for it.

Your first choice should be an email. (Pro Tip: Have a My Contact Info email queued up on your phone ready to send when the need arises.)

Try to avoid participating in the business card exchange at the beginning of a meeting. When everyone starts passing around their cards, pull out your mobile and email or text them directly. I typically say, “I have cards if you need them, but I’m sending you my info now so you don’t have to type it in later.”

You don’t want people looking at your card — you want them looking at you.

A Sport Coat or Suit Jacket

The sport coat is a pro’s briefcase. Use the inside pockets only (never the outside) to store your essentials. I put my paper and pens in the left breast pocket and my phone and mints in the right. Everything is always in the same place so I never have to search for what I need.

Edge Dressing on Your Shoes

Keep your dress shoes looking brand new with edge dressing. If you can’t take care of your shoes, how will you take care of your customers?

Taking meticulous care of your shoes makes you look intentional. If you pay attention to details like this, your clients will know they’re in good hands.

A Nice Wallet

If your wallet comes out of your pocket, it should look like the nicest thing you own. In a sales meeting, a high-powered wallet with no money is worth infinitely more than a beat-up wallet with $700 inside.

(A Few) Keys

Of course, you need your car keys to get home. You don’t want to be the guy waiting on AAA in the parking lot as everyone else leaves. However, bring the smallest number of keys possible, make sure they don’t jingle in your pocket, and never pull them out in a meeting.

Related: The One Essential Habit That Transforms Good Salespeople Into Rainmakers

You can also use your keys as an exit signal. If the “walk you out” lobby chat starts to drag, grab your keys. The other person will get the picture without you being rude.

Leave Your Bag Behind

Notice we didn’t recommend a bag. Bags intimidate people and create an unnecessary barrier. If you can, avoid bringing one. The only time you may need a bag is if you’re doing a presentation with your computer.

Otherwise, you don’t need your laptop. You don’t need one for a calendar. You don’t need it to take notes. If you have documents to share, think about printing them out. You can carry hand-outs in a folder.

Your gear should support your killer sales strategy — not detract from it. And with these essentials on hand, you’ll be ready for each and every meeting.

Field Sales 101: Follow These 10 Solid Tips for Success

field_sales_representative_success_tips

If you’re new to field sales, there’s no sense wasting time. You have people to see and sales to make.

But there’s a learning curve. Being a field sales representative is tough work. You’re out of the office more than you’re in it — meeting people, building relationships, and trying to remember who said what so you know how to follow up.

So, as you navigate the obstacles, try these 10 tips and tools to take your field sales to the next level.

#1: Have a Sales Process Before You Meet With Prospects

Every sales representative needs a solid process before they meet a new prospect. When you have a process, you stay in control of the results. A plan keeps you on track and establishes a call to action. Then you know the possible outcomes and can be prepared to guide the prospect through their responses.

In doing so, you’ll show them you’re organized, and they’ll know they’re in good hands.

#2: Stay Organized

Have a plan for dealing with people at every stage of the sales process. Always know your action. And have a system for everything. Then, no matter where a prospect is in the funnel, you know the next touchpoint.

Moreover, don’t over-complicate your touchpoints. They’re molehills, not mountains. It’s easy for a new field sales representative to think of making contact as a giant task when it only takes a few minutes. Make sure you realize the simplicity of the task so you don’t put it off.

#3: Don’t Keep Anything in Your Head

As you work your system, use tools to keep you on track. That way you won’t overlook something (or someone) by accident. It’s a little easier to keep track of things mentally when you’re younger, but the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to mentally track it all.

So trust your calendar. Trust your CRM. Even if your memory is great, you cloud your judgment by mentally trying to keep track of everything. Instead, use a reliable CRM to track your data so you can stay focused on what you’re doing. A clear mind frees you up to be more strategic.

#4: Tell Your Story

Qualify your prospects before you meet with them. Then focus on your story. Work on telling the story of why your company exists and what your business brings to the table. It will allow you to see how that applies to your customers.

When you meet with customers, center your conversation on the story. Tell your story and listen to theirs. Customers need time, trust, and money before they buy. So build that into your story. How does your product bring value to their company?

Related Post: Sell the Value of Your Product, Not the Price

Once you hear their story and tell them yours, you’ll know if their needs align with your product. When you have conversations with the right people (people who want to buy now, not those who may want to buy “one day”), your stories will match up.

#5: Admit If You’re Not a Good Fit

If you’re not the right fit, be the first to admit it. There’s no problem in saying, “Hey, I can’t help you, and here’s why.”

But even if your product won’t solve their problem, point them in the right direction. Give them a recommendation of a person or company who will meet their needs. Then ask for a referral. I usually say, “I know I’m not the right person for you, but if you know someone else…” They almost always refer. And I almost always make a sale by telling them no.

#6: Balance Your Goals With the Customer’s Goals

Before you take on a customer, make sure it’s a win for both sides. You have a responsibility to your customers, employees, and vendors to make good decisions that benefit everyone involved.

To keep that balance, you need a direct line of sight to success. So figure out what “success” is to each person involved. As you sell to new clients or adjust to current customers’ needs, ask them what they need to be successful. Then see how you can help meet those needs. When your clients are successful, you are too.

#7: Keep the Price Fair

Price your product accordingly. You’re working with customers, not against them. So don’t gouge people. But also, don’t cheapen your product. Instead, charge a fair price where you can explain why you charge what you do.

When you’re offering a product that helps clients be successful at a fair price, you’ll see good results. Why? You’re working towards the same goal. With a fair price, the customer gets good value, and you make enough for it to be worthwhile.

#8: Take a Team Approach With Vendors

If you use vendors, don’t forget to consider their success. In the past, I didn’t want to hear about the vendors at all. I just wanted the results. Worst idea ever.

Vendors should be treated as part of the team. You have a responsibility to make sure the customer gets a good product. So everyone involved needs to be on the same page — including vendors.

Vendors are good at what they do. They’re experts — you just don’t need them full-time. Even if they only work for you temporarily, make your efforts collaborative. When you do, you’ll see better results for everyone involved.

#9: Communicate During Onboarding

You want new clients to become lifelong customers. Good onboarding sets the stage for a long-term working relationship. Onboarding is all about communication. Make sure you know what pieces need to be in place to make it successful. You’ve onboarded customers before. You have experience. They don’t. So guide them down the path and make them feel comfortable with the process.

Communicate every step of the way. It’s just like the sales process. In sales, you close a call with, “Here’s what’s going to happen next…” The onboarding process should work the same way. Make sure there’s no question about what comes next.

#10: Quote Quickly

Quotes need to be prompt. Don’t say, “I’ll get it to you soon.” Instead, tell them exactly when you’ll send it. Leads and deals are like fish. The older they get, the more they start to stink. So move fast — the more touches you make in a short time (especially during the quoting phase), the faster you’ll build trust in the relationship.

Your product is not their world. They don’t spend days thinking about your solution. That’s just something they did once and don’t want to deal with again. So get started, pull off the band-aid, show them what they need, tell them what’s going to happen, and deliver.

I typically leave a meeting, send a handwritten thank-you note, email the proposal, call them to make sure they received it, then give them their next steps. The goal is to meet their needs quickly.

These 10 tips are no great secret. The real secret to success is doing them. So don’t be one of those people who know what to do but fail to follow through. Instead, let these time-proven practices change your work.