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Common Questions and Answers
You’ve searched through job listings, successfully navigated the interview and been hired as a salesperson at your new company. Now all you have to do is survive your first day on the job. Whether this is your first sales job or your tenth, starting out right with your new company is extremely important. According to Fortune magazine, 46% of new employees leave or are fired within 18 months — a daunting statistic. You can help minimize the risk of an early unplanned departure by approaching the job correctly from the beginning.
Even for an experienced salesperson, starting in a new position means having to learn many new things ranging from details about the product to the company’s sales process to the corporate culture to the names of other team members and more. So the first few days on the job are the time for picking up as much information as you can. Sitting back and waiting for your sales manager to deliver this information to you isn’t good enough, as few companies have a plan in place for training up new employees. Companies that put new sales hires into classes may instruct those trainees on basic sales skills and the company compensation structure, but they rarely go beyond that point. Your first day with your new team is the best time to start uncovering what you need to know. Taking the initiative early on will also impress your sales manager.
On your first day, try to grab a little time with your new manager and ask her about the core issues: where to get more background about the product and the company to use in your sales calls, what the sales priorities and goals are, how management will use to judge your success, her opinion of the short-term issues facing the company and its products, etc. Ask what training is available and where she would advise you to target your efforts in your first days and weeks to build a solid pipeline. Other important details you’ll need to know include details on company software and databases, especially CRMs; the phone system and its nuances; basic office equipment such as copy machines and postage meters; and your teammates’ usual schedules.
Different companies can have very different ways of doing business. Approaches and attitudes that brought you success with your old sales team may quickly get you into trouble with your new one. Until you’ve had time to pick up the atmosphere at your new company, treat your fellow salespeople as you’d treat a prospect: listen more than you talk, make eye contact and be aware of body language (yours and theirs), look for common areas of interest to help you build rapport, and so on. Your new coworkers can be a great source of information and support if they approve of you, but they can also be a barrier to your success if they don’t. Be careful to make your initial meetings brief unless you’re talking to someone who is assigned to train you. You don’t want to monopolize someone’s time when there’s work to be done.
Your interview was probably your first face-to-face encounter with your future manager and possibly your co-workers, but it’s not necessarily the best place to pick up on the company’s everyday dress code because interviewers will often dress somewhat more formally than they do on an average day on the job. Your first day is a good opportunity to see how your co-workers usually dress at this company. In some organizations, casual is the byword; in others suits and other conservative attire are expected. For men, acceptable hair cuts and facial hair vary from company to company, and from industry to industry. For women, skirt lengths, type of makeup or even bare legs vs. pantyhose can determine whether you’ll fit in and how you’ll be judged. Keep in mind that in some companies, the salespeople dress casually for the office but wear a suit and tie on days when they’ll be meeting customers or prospects. When in doubt, ask your sales manager or one of your coworkers how they’d advise you to dress for work.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.