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What You Need To Succeed In Your New Sales Role – Part 3: The First 90 Days

- December 21st, 2013



The experienced climber is not intimidated by a mountain – he is inspired by it. Mountains are created to be conquered: adversaries are designed to be defeated; problems are sent to be solved.      William Arthur Ward                           


Failing after 90 days?  – Or maybe you feel you’re doing great!

I received a call recently from a new sales hire.  He said “Bob, in my industry it takes several months to close a sale from an initial customer meeting.  Does your ’90 day plan’ really apply to me?”

Yes it does. In my experience, the first 90 days is where your selling skills, work habits and success attitudes are developed.  Even if you haven’t sold anything yet, if you’re hitting the performance metrics (agreed with your line manager) and you show progress towards your key targets, you are most likely a ‘keeper’.

You did ask your manager ‘What are your expectations of me during the first 90 days”, didn’t you?

You’ve still got time to make a difference – and time to be a H.E.R.O.


  • H – How You Become a Trusted Advisor
  • E – Executive Sponsorship
  • R – Reciprocity
  • O – Offer Stellar Service


H – How You Become A Trusted Advisor:

If prospecting (see First 30 Days – Set Personal Metrics) is a core component of ‘Quantitative’ selling, then becoming a Trusted Advisor is a core component of ‘Qualitative’ selling. Both are important if you are to become a supreme performer. Becoming a Trusted Advisor is an aspirational goal. It isn’t something that happens ‘over-night’, but one which is worth striving for right from the start.

The term ‘Trusted Advisor’ was coined by the business consultant, David Maister. There are two key components.


  • Trust – can your customer feel confident that you have their best interests at heart?
  • Advise will you provide valuable, relevant advice for your particular customer’s needs, and guide them when they go astray?


If you are trusted by your customer to deliver value and solve problems, this will result in a consultative relationship, rather than merely a ‘sell too’ and ‘me too’ association with the account.  This in turn will automatically put you ahead of the game and instantly in a league above your competition.

Brushing up on business knowledge is one of the ‘how’ keys to success. Equipping yourself with knowledge of your business means you can take a proactive stance in helping meet your customer’s needs. You will become what you read. If you’re well read, you’ll be well informed. Well informed people make good conversationalists. Good conversationalists make great sales people and great sales people become Trusted Advisors.

Look out for a future article on Becoming A Trusted Advisor where I will offer more tips and information.

E - Executive Sponsorship:

Visibility counts. If you are hidden, unknown or unconnected, your achievements may be overlooked. This may include being overlooked for promotion!

I learned early on in my career, that engaging senior company officers (Sales Director/CFO/CEO) as  ‘Executive Sponsors’ attached to your key accounts, is a great way to ensure that:

  • You gain visibility
  • Your successes become public knowledge at a high level
  • You become part of the ‘inner circle’ very quickly. And:


  • The senior management team unconsciously become your mentors
  • The senior management team are aware of and help significantly in the solving of issues
  • Your customers appreciate the importance you attach to their account
  • Your customers appreciate the link they have into your organization
  • Your senior management team enjoy the connection and the reflected success
  • It keeps you performing at your best!


R – Reciprocity:

In more than one organization, my colleagues have turned to me and asked how it was that I gained so much support and co-operation for my accounts from all divisions of the business. Even from those individuals known to be ‘difficult’. In addition to my epithet of ‘Bob The Builder’, I also gained the nickname ‘Lucky Bob’.

In Part 1: The First 30 Days – Fitting-In, I mentioned the importance of spending time getting to know your colleagues, especially after 5pm. On these occasions you will often find them working late to finish a project, set up a room or collate some training manuals. You should offer to help. You are not looking for something in return, enjoy the extended conversations you will have, but very often a return favor is given enthusiastically.

One of the most potent of the weapons of influence is the ‘law’ of Reciprocity. In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, the Author Robert B. Cialdini says that with reciprocity ‘we try to repay in kind, what another has provided us’. In other words, when someone gives you something, you feel an obligation to give value back. Remember though, that others feel an obligation to give back, it does not say they will give back. This is why the deliberate pursuit of reciprocity does not work. It will leave you feeling frustrated and resentful.

However, in my experience, genuine support of others will result in you receiving help when you need it.

O – Offer Stellar Service:

Much has been written on the topic of customer service and you should read some relevant articles on the internet. Here are my top tips:

Offer stellar service – list your top customers and call one each day.

Under-promise and over-deliver. It may be cliché, but your customers will love you for your ability to out-perform your competitors by a mile.

Differentiate yourself. Send thank you notes to everyone you meet – everyone!

For new prospects – send an email within 24 hours, within 72 hours send a handwritten note, and within 10 days send a handwritten note with an article that may be of interest to your prospect.

Whenever you meet someone new – and you should meet at least one new person a day, keep a record of their complete contact information, including the correct spelling (and pronunciation) of their name. Enter this into your company CRM system and keep it up to date. You will gain clarity and control.

Follow through and follow-up after the sale. This is an ongoing relationship based on trust.

How you think is everything. So always expects the best outcomes.

What Now?

My perspective as a manager is that what I have seen in the first 90 days of a new salesperson’s employment is pretty much what I can expect to see in the future. If you haven’t done the prospecting that you’ve agreed to do during that time, you aren’t going to. If you haven’t met your activity quota, you aren’t going to. If you haven’t built the pipeline or won the opportunities that you agreed to, and that they are what could reasonably be expected of you, you aren’t going to.

Your first 90 days in any new sales role will set the tone and create the platform for your success with your new organization.

You now have the tools succeed. Dedicate yourself now to becoming a F.A.S.T  S.T.A.R.T  H.E.R.O. and

An Elite Sales Performer


Any Questions?

Please send me your comments. I’d love to hear about your experiences.


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What You Need To Succeed In Your New Sales Role – Part 2: The First 60 Days

- October 23rd, 2013

What Gets Measured, Gets Done – Tom Peters

Congratulations. You’ve made it through your first 30 days in your new sales role.  What next? – More of what you did in the F.A.S.T.  30 days, but I’m also going to add further ‘knock-out’ strategies to accelerate your success.

You should by now be focused more on field sales and less on directed training. Get deeper into things. To start, review the first 30 days and ensure that you met all of your stated goals. Continue to fine tune your product, process, partner and customer knowledge. Submit your sales pipeline updates as required and discuss your accomplishments and challenges with your line manager.  Ensure you receive detailed and informed feedback from your manager on how you’re doing. Integrate what you learn into your plan. Read your plan and map out your goals at the start of every week. Create a sense of urgency by thinking ‘What can I do right now to make the most productive use of my time’.  Let’s S.T.A.R.T.

  • S – Sell Value
  • T – Turn Obstacles into Opportunities
  • A – Allies (Get them!)
  • R – Role Play
  • T – Taking Off On Your Own


S – Sell Value

You will have experienced a number of customer meetings and you will be gaining a sense of what it is that the customer values in the products and services your organization has to offer. But the customer will almost always raise ‘objections’. When a customer challenges the price of your product, your company or even you this is a good sign, as it may indicate a genuine interested in what you have!  What they are really asking is ‘What do I get for my money’ or ‘what will I get from you that I cannot get from your competitor for that additional investment’.

Firstly, demonstrate to the customer that you are at least an equal of your competitor, by matching all those features and benefits that your customer says are important. Get the customer to agree. Now differentiate yourself, by adding at least 3 reasons that show how you’re unique and demonstrate why they should buy from you. Write these down and memorize them. The principle here is never be afraid or lost for words when the customer asks you to show him that he’s getting great value.

T – Turn Obstacles into Opportunities

There have been many occasions when a salesperson has come to me, head low, and said ‘We’ve hit a problem’. And my response has always been, ‘Great!’  Quite frankly, anyone can sell when the going is easy. Turning an obstacle into a solution and then into a sale, requires real effort and wins trust and respect.

Look at obstacles as a learning opportunity. Face them head on. When you discover the answer to a problem, it’s empowering on many fronts. Call your mentors, gain insight. Your drive and focus will impress your customers and your colleagues. It will also require you to reach out to an increasing number of your team members (and with a specific question or purpose), helping raise your profile and network.

In essence, customers understand there will be challenges with any product or solution they buy. What they want to have confidence in is your ability and willingness to solve them quickly.  If they trust you, they will be loyal. If you can deliver more than you promise, you will create ‘Raving Fans’ (read Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles).

A – Allies (Get them!)

In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned how important it is to ‘fit-in’. Fitting-in is all about building relationships, being accepted as a team member and being included in the ‘office news’.  Let’s now take this a step further. Build on your new-found relationships by identifying potential work allies.

‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ as the old saying goes, and this is certainly true in a tough sales environment.

Allies are the people who give you backing, assistance, advice, information, protection, – and yes, friendship!  They are your support team – and these are the people that are going to help you find solutions to your problems unleashed in the section above.

Anyone and everyone who can help you achieve your objectives is a potential ally. Some of these allies are ‘natural’, as they are individuals who share a common interest with you.  But your strategic advantage often comes from allies that you find in unexpected places too. Finance, legal, product development and warehouse to name a few.

Having a network of allies can help your work go smoothly, accelerate your success and help catapult you to the top. However, it’s important to remember that these alliances should be mutually beneficial. In part 3, I will tell you how you can develop some really powerful allies from some unexpected players.

R – Role Play

It was a moment most salespeople could appreciate.  President George W. Bush held a press conference at which he was asked, “What would you say your biggest mistakes have been and what have you learned from them?”  The question left the President tongue-tied and he finally left the question up to historians to decide. Given some preparation he could have turned this poor situation into a PR masterstroke.

As a sales professional you will need to master questions such as ‘Why are your prices so high? Or ‘Why should I buy from you?’  Where do you learn winning answers to these questions?  Answer: Role-plays.  If your line manager doesn’t offer them, set them up yourself.

Role plays allow you to hear how veterans handle objections.  Ask seasoned team members to act as the salesperson.  You will hear what they say and how they overcome objections. In this way you can see and hear experienced sales professionals going through their presentations and benefit from wisdom that has possibly taken hundreds of calls to accumulate. The best time to mess up is during the role play and not in front of the customer. The role plays could also highlight objections that you have not heard previously – but almost certainly will, one day!

T – Taking Off On Your Own

You are responsible for your own success. Whether you are fortunate enough to have joined an organization with a structured on-boarding program or whether you’ve had to make your own way from day 1. Your goal is to get yourself up to speed, independent and contributing as soon as possible.

You will have asked your Line Manager “What are your expectations of me during the first 90 days”. Now is the time to clarify your personal objectives. This includes identifying and writing your game plan for your ‘Top Ten’ customers and your ‘Top Ten’ prospects. Remember to keep a complete record of the contact information of every person you meet. If your company has a CRM system, enter their details into the relevant fields and keep it updated. It may seem like hard work, but this discipline will pay dividends in the end because you will be a ‘master’ of your accounts.


Enjoy the journey – and remember, what gets measured, gets done.

I wish you continued success in becoming An Elite Sales Performer


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What You Need To Succeed In Your New Sales Role – Part 1: The First 30 Days

- October 13th, 2013

The rules are changing. To succeed today, you must fit in, you must deliver sales and you must do all this to a deadline.

 30 days 2As a Sales Leader, I’ve been asked many times what it takes for a newly hired sales  person to be successful. Today I am sharing the first in my 3 part series (Part 2 will  cover days 30-60 and Part 3, days 60-90) on how to get you started in your new sales  role. In this series I will give you recommendations for what you, as a new hire, can do to set yourself up for success.

The First 30 Days – Plan To Succeed.  FAST.

  • F – Fitting-In
  • A – Acquire the Business & Product Knowledge You Need
  • S – Set Personal Metrics
  • T – Talk To Your Line Manager


F- Fitting-In

It’s very tempting in a field sales role to exit the door on day 2 and ‘never show your face again in the office’. You consider yourself a road warrior and the war is ‘out there’. But that would be your first mistake. The combination of your performance and your personality determines how you are viewed.  If people don’t know you, they can’t trust you and they won’t support you. You have to be ‘out there’ and in the office.  So, either at the start of the day, or at the end of the day or ideally both, get to know your colleagues. All of them! (More about this in Part 2).  Establish an initial connection so that you can build a relationship. However, don’t lay the charm on thick, you are there to listen (and learn). Your goal is to establish a routine of connecting with people at every opportunity.

A – Acquire the Business & Product Knowledge You Need

Meeting with your sales colleagues is an important part of gaining knowledge about your business. Learn tips from their success. Your fellow sales colleagues will be able to tell you a lot about the company culture; why customers like and buy from your organization – and what they don’t admire about your organization! Discover what sales messages work and what your competition is offering.  Learn existing cold call scripts and then make them your own.  Begin independent study relating to your products and service offerings and prepare fully for any training sessions. Be prepared to learn not only about your organization’s technical information but also about the administrative and support functions too. For example, how does your company price book work? Do your accounts operate through any Channel Partners? Who are they and how do they complement your offerings?

Will you be given any current accounts to manage?  If so, review existing account information thoroughly. Understand the history.  After all, you want to show that you are a professional from the very first meeting, especially if the account had developed any kind of rapport with your predecessor.

Tip: If you keep learning about how your organization works – at every level – and if you keep acquiring product and industry knowledge, you will soon be recognized as the ‘go to’ person in the sales team. That is a powerful position to be in – as it leads to becoming respected and wanted.

S – Set Personal Metrics

Closing sales is the core of your success and there is no easy route to this success. Individuals that plan well and work hard, succeed. So, set personal metrics to help you self-manage your own success:

  • Know the number of leads required to get 1 prospect
  • Know the number of prospects it takes to get an appointment
  • Know the number of appointments it takes to make 1 proposal
  • Know the number of proposals it takes to get a sale
  • Learn the average sale value and the number of sales needed to make quota


Create a personal time management system so that you can work your accounts in the most efficient manner.

Use your sales scripts and practice by leaving yourself a recorded voicemail so that you and your manager can evaluate your message.

T – Talk to Your Line Manager

Don’t assume that your boss knows what you’re doing. What’s going on in their head may bear no relationship to reality, and this is a recipe for trouble.  Spend time to figure out how you can best work together. This is a good time to ask questions without fear of being criticized.

Don’t wait for your line manager to ask what you’re working on and how it’s going. By the time they do, it may be ‘too late’. The trouble is already brewing. It’s up to you to seek out your manager.

In my experience, many new hires put off checking in with the line manager because they are afraid they’ll hear unpleasant news. In reality, your line manager wants you to succeed as it makes him or her look good.

Remember, even though your line manager is judging your performance, they are not an adversary – but an ally. Your greatest ally!

Get Organized

Getting started is all about getting organized. Taking the time to carefully think through and plan out your first 30 days on the job, will decrease the uncertainty and stress associated with starting a new sales role. It will also earn you the credibility and respect of your colleagues, and ensure that you become as efficient and effective as possible in the shortest amount of time.

I wish you every success during your first 30 days in becoming  An Elite Sales Performer.

Your invitation…

- July 8th, 2013

QUOTA-LogoFINAL-500pxWelcome! You are invited to attend

Quota® - The Sales Performance Game

New York, September 17, 2013   8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Quota® is a dynamic new sales performance game that has been used by many of the World’s top corporations. The game is a fun, interactive and competitive experience that teaches players about business-to-business sales process and cycles. Each player develops critical sales skills and knowledge while playing the game… and having fun!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Developing Elite Sales Performers

- June 3rd, 2013

finding-sales-peopleWelcome to my website – and to the first of my weekly blog posts. Through these posts, public and in-house training events, speaking engagements and consulting services, my objective is to significantly enhance the knowledge and effectiveness of sales professionals at every level of their career.

I have been fortunate to work with some exceptional colleagues at Fortune 500 Information Technology companies in roles that have given me the scope to live and operate across the globe. I have trained, directed and coached many sales teams. This breadth of experience has contributed – in addition to traditional sales expertise – Specialist knowledge in building and managing Global Account Teams that deliver fantastic value, to the vendor, the customer and related partners.

Want to become an Elite Sales Performer? I can help you to achieve your goals

With over 30 years’ experience in sales, marketing & leadership roles in the United Kingdom, Asia and North America, I am motivated by success and in nurturing others to succeed. Throughout my career, I have been recognized for coaching countless individuals to achieve new skills and achieve new heights in their careers.

It has often been suggested that I write a book or write a blog, so that I can offer what I have learnt to a wider audience. I have decided to do both, commencing with blog posts – I will also prepare and publish a number of White Papers on related topics. Read the rest of this entry »

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