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.

Sales Funnel Management: Close More Deals by Eliminating the Noise

sales-funnel-management

If you’re looking to move your prospects from possibility to purchase, it’s time to reexamine your sales funnel management. At the top of this metaphorical funnel are any people who could potentially buy. Then, as they move closer to being a client, they move down the funnel.

But how does this funnel really help the sales process? It works toward two advantages.

1. Planning Your Sales Steps

Figuring out where people are in this process helps you manage your sales steps. So, if a person is a new prospect, you know what to do. If they’re a returning customer, they’re at a different part of the funnel, and you need to take a different action step.

Related: A Sales Lead Management Process You Can Count On

See, too often people wait for the customer or prospect to tell them to go to the next step. It works better if you figure out how to get them to the next step. Don’t just wait for it to happen — make it happen.

Look at your pipeline and ask yourself, “What’s the next action I need to do?” Keep your action simple. It shouldn’t be conducting extensive research and geological surveys. It can be as easy as setting a reminder to call them tomorrow. Use your pipeline to be proactive, not reactive.

2. Balancing Your Sales Steps

Funnel management in sales also keeps you balanced. Try to spend time with prospects in each part of your funnel: the top, middle, and bottom. You should be continually prospecting, quoting, and closing. If you focus on these areas in phases, your pipeline goes dry. The key is doing all of your essential activities regularly. Maybe you start with phone calls (the top of the funnel) and schedule a lot of appointments. Well, don’t stop making those prospecting calls when you start going to appointments.

Balance every stage of the process. That way, you keep your sales steady. Otherwise, you work a few prospects through your pipeline only to realize you have no one left at the top of your funnel. Once your current deals close, you’ll have to start at square one, and it’ll be a while before you make another sale.

More Tips for Managing Your Sales Pipeline

Keep Sales Stages Simple

The way you move people through the pipeline should be easy. Know your next steps for each level. How can you get them from the top to the middle? When you have go-to sales steps, the answer is easy.

Related: How to Close More Deals by Mapping Your Sales Process

Limit Active Prospects

You only need to focus on a few sales-ready leads at a time. Now, you might have 500 prospects, but who are the sales-ready leads you can work through the pipeline? You can’t manage 500 records and move them to their next steps. It takes too much time. Instead, you need to be able to look at your sales-ready leads daily to figure out their next step. Then figure out who will fill their spot after they buy.

I used to be a sales trainer. Our first step was to look at pipeline reports. And so often, I’d see 100 people on their forecasting reports. They were proud of it. High numbers looked great on their report, but it wasn’t actionable, much less realistic. During our training, I’d ask them to get their prospect list down to seven people. Sure, they had more options than that, but they needed a smaller number to make it manageable. So they’d choose seven deals of various sizes to focus on, and they’d start closing them. It was way easier to close two out of seven deals than it was to close two out of 100.

De-Clutter Your Funnel

Most of the time, the pipeline ends up in an Excel file. Salespeople have reporting responsibilities, so they keep this file that they tweak and submit every Friday afternoon. But after a while, they become numb to it. They’re used to looking at the same data — after you’ve seen “oddball” on there for so long, it just stays. It’s natural, but not so effective for keeping the pipeline fresh.

If you want your team to get their funnel down to seven (or however many works for your industry), let them pick which prospects they want. Then they need to literally only focus on those potential customers until they close the deal or go back to another status. Delete the others from your file for now. They’re not your focus.

Your pipeline isn’t about how many prospects you can cram into it. It’s about what’s real. If you want to close deals, you want to eliminate as much noise as possible. The only people you should deal with are the ones you’re actively pushing through your pipeline.