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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