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5 Ways a Young Salesperson Can Excel in Their Role

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Sales is a great first job to get out of college for the lessons it teaches. A new salesperson quickly experiences rejection, learns they are not as good as they thought they were, and gets a real understanding that their path is not going to be an easy one.  The market chews them up and spits them out, and there is very little they can do about it.

I can say this because I recently completed two years of sales experience and learned these lessons the hard way. To find a semblance of success, I had to set my ego aside and modify my expectations.

This introduction to sales taught me five lessons that helped me overcome roadblocks, penetrate gatekeepers, and settle into the workforce:

1. Education Doesn’t Equal Performance

Like most recent graduates I felt prepared to conquer the world right out of college and was confident I could understand anything I set my mind to.  Fresh off the high of achieving my academic goals, I realized within days that there was a small problem – the skillset did not translate.

As great of a job formal education does to expand your mind and teach you new thought patterns, it is very theoretical. When it comes to practically applying that knowledge, young professionals often find themselves underprepared.  This disconnect is a result of the way their performance is measured – A student is evaluated based on a test, which is predictable and objective.

A salesperson is evaluated on their sales numbers, which has a lot of built in unpredictability.  On top of that, the execution of a sales call is much more difficult to objectively quantify. Due to this, when a young professional first finds themself in a sales environment, they are vulnerable to their inexperience in that setting and their performance suffers.

A technique that helps me be more confident in this new arena is role-playing.  Simulating an unpredictable environment has been a great exercise for me because it has provided me with experience in this new setting.

2. Know How to Be Old-Fashioned

A fundamental part of sales is meeting your customer at their level.  Young salespeople often come across targets who prefer traditional business practices and struggle with selling to them.  Choosing to match a customers’ old-fashioned demeanor helps relate with them because it aligns with how they are accustomed to doing business.

A few things that worked for me. First, whenever possible, I choose to write things down with pen and paper.  This action resonates with customers who are slower to adopt technology. On top of that, following up with hard copies may better meet your customer’s expectations and fit into their decision making workflow.  

Along with taking written notes, I also make a point to overdress for the occasion, arrive early, be clean-shaven, and use titles when addressing people. Taking steps to be old-fashioned is conducive to doing business with tenured customers because it works against the prejudices the customer might have about millennials.

“A smart salesperson listens to emotions not facts.”

3. Understand Emerging Technology

Today’s young professionals grew up in the exciting age of the digital revolution. This means that young salespeople are expected to be early adopters of new workplace technologies and have a high technological competency.  While it is true that young professionals may have a better intuition for the technology, it still takes a good deal of additional work to be informed.

I quickly realized not only that I should pay special attention to the latest workplace tech, but that I needed to proactively learn it to meet expectations. As expected I became the default resource whenever there was a technical issue or question, and in an operating room setting, it was a particularly important role to hold.

I used this responsibility to my advantage by taking it as an opportunity to be valuable. I spent additional time learning the nuances of the technology so that I was confident in my execution when people turned to me for answers. As a young salesperson it is important to understand others’ expectations of your technological competency because any opportunity to add value is a sales opportunity.

4. Constant Judgment

Young salespeople are very affected by this – there is an association between youth and immaturity in the workplace, and colleagues pay close attention to the behavior of their younger counterparts.  I concede that this connection between maturity and years might be fair, and as a result young professionals are given a different threshold for how much their behavior will be tolerated.

I understand that there is a fine line between personal and professional settings after hours, but it is best practice for young professionals to be conservative to avoid negative judgment in casual settings. When I am around coworkers I always try to stay “turned on,” meaning that I take precautions to act appropriately. I limit my drinks, defer contentious conversational topics, and avoid workplace controversy and gossip. It is part of our reality that young professionals need to come to terms with.

However, judgment exists differently in a professional setting. Instead of being evaluated on the appropriateness of your behavior, young professionals are judged on their competency and ability to contribute. The most effective way to be viewed as a positive contributor is by displaying confidence, both in the quality of your work and in the way you carry yourself.  

“Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking”. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.” – Roy Bartell

5. Own Your Youth

A young salesperson should definitely use their age to their advantage. Young professionals offer a unique perspective, skill-set, and way of operating that is invaluable to any business.  Leaning into those qualities is the best thing a young salesperson can do because it offers a truly unique value proposition.

If employing this, it is first critical for a young salesperson to address their age and be transparent about their experience level before being exposed of it. This approach disarms customers by handling their first objection without them having to ask it, and conveys respect through humility. I have found customers are much more receptive to hearing my message after ground-rules have been set and this deference has been established.  

Also, something young professionals should leverage is their colleagues’ interest in their exciting young lifestyles. What works particularly well is using major life events to build rapport and relate to customers. Talking about buying a house, getting married, or having a child begins a conversation that becomes an opportunity to advance the relationship.

What techniques have you incorporated in your sales routine that have helped you get your message heard?

Brian Ford is a former Division 1 college soccer player and standout scholar-athlete at UC Davis.  Having studied neurobiology and psychology, Brian completed 2 years in medical device sales where he provided consultative support for spine surgeons in the operating room.  More interested in applying his scientific background in a business setting, Brian will soon begin working for an exciting Silicon Valley biotech startup as the Director of Marketing and Sales while earning his MBA from Santa Clara University.  Brian is the host and founder of the Top-Rated Amazon Alexa Flash Briefing “Self Improvement Daily”, and continues to manage a local community service organization he created in college.  Brian is motivated to have a large social impact with everything he does, and the best way to follow his progress is on LinkedIn.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Marif

    Jul 14, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    This is a very good article, very useful information. Keep it up

  2. Avatar

    Tim Sabat

    Jun 25, 2018 at 6:34 am

    I think that it’s important also not to dig deeper into problems when you get into a situation of a hard customer. Sometimes it happens that the customer is talking to you only to kill time, instead of really focusing on the purchase. Then it’s important to get rid of such situation.

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Success Advice

5 Things You Can Learn From The 5am Club by Robin Sharma

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It has been said by Robin Sharma, “5 AM is the time of least distraction, highest human glory, and greatest peace.” This also happens to be the central idea or the core value he has discussed in his book, ‘The 5 Am Club.’ Speaking of early mornings, at what time do you wake up? Are you annoyed by the fact that you wake up on the edge of time and then rush to work in haste? 

The life lessons put forth by The 5 AM Club are exactly the learning and motivation you need to challenge your complacency. In your race against time, you may not have the time to read this fabulous book. So, we have summed up the key book’s takeaways for your convenience.

1. The vigor of waking up early

This is what the book’s most fundamental advice to everyone is. Waking up at 5 am every day can work wonders to avert failures and make success a natural habit. When we wake up at 5 am, we have more time on our hands than others. Besides, this is when we have minimum interruptions and maximum powerfulness of the mind. 

To add, the early morning peace is priceless! You can schedule your most important tasks of the day between 5am, and 8am. This book teaches us in the simplest way, how we can train our mind and strengthen it to deliver the highest productivity by waking up early. This energy that you have when you wake up in the morning and the few additional hours in your day are what serve as perfect ingredients for success.

“The secret to productivity is simplicity.” – Robin Sharma

2. The power of finding the right balance in life

The book talks about a precious lesson of finding the right balance within. We often talk about the need for mindfulness and achieving the right mindset to perceive things. But this book goes a few steps ahead of our usual approach to life. It highlights the vitality of mindset and introduces the concepts of heartset, healthset, and soulset.

These terms may seem new, but they are self-explanatory. The idea of heartset endorses the essentialness of emotional stability and well-being. Next, the perspective of healthset indicates the need to look after physical health. At last, soulset is an attribute of spirituality. As explained in this book, success prospects can be enhanced big time by achieving the right balance between these internal virtues.

3. The iconic 20/20/20 modus operandi

What is the first thing you will do if you start waking up at 5 am every day? Did you ever spare a thought about it? This book has the answer to this question, and you will be convinced that it is a great way to begin your day!. The author suggests that you should split the first hour of the day into three equal parts of 20 minutes each.

In the first 20 minutes of the day, you should prioritize your physical fitness and exercise. In the next 20 minutes, you should energize your soul and spirit via self-reflection and soulful meditation. This will prepare you for the rest of the day and will enable you to bolster your commitment and focus. In the last 20 minutes of the first hour, you should read and learn. But what are you going to read about in those 20 minutes? Read about successful people and their inspiring journeys to the pinnacle of success.

4. The significance of a proper sleep schedule

In this book, there is a mention of ‘a ferocious global sleep recession’, which is intriguing and enlightening. It hints at the state of sleep deprivation that this world is sinking into gradually. We often associate success and hard work with the notion of staying up all night and testing our endurance beyond limits. But that is not the right approach to accomplishing success, or rather, it is a flawed methodology.

Sometimes even if we do not have any critical work, we keep whiling our night time on social media or television. What are we gaining from it is the real question, and I am afraid the answer is nothing! We learn from this book that it is critical to look after your sleep cycle and start your day at 5 am afresh. Sleep and rest are indispensable for mental and physical well-being, or your productivity will decline.

“If you want to have the results only 5% have, you must be willing to do and think like only 5% do and think.” – Robin Sharma

5. The art of evolving

The book sheds light on the need to be spiritual and master self-reflection. However, do you realize the purpose that the routine of reflection each morning serves? The idea is to keep learning, keep reflecting on the mistakes and keep evolution an ongoing process. You should evolve every day and strive to be a better version of yourself every day. So, one of your primary goals after waking up should be to reflect on your actions and missed opportunities of the previous day.

To recapitulate, The 5 AM Club is a must-read book if you are a passionate reader. It has the prowess and charm to refurbish your perception of life altogether. Even if you cannot read the book for some reason, make sure you incorporate the above key takeaways into your life. By starting your day at 5 am, you can rediscover your lost soul and enthusiasm, and you would not have complaints to make about the lack of time. If you can own your mornings, you can go places on the ladder of success, for excuses are only for those who are not committed to their goals.

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Success Advice

Prepare Yourself for Prosperity With These 6 Success Habits

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Success stories don’t come from naturally successful people. They come from ordinary people with starry eyes and big dreams who stayed true to their end goal and consistently put in the work. They are just like you and me. What sets them apart is their mindset — a success mindset. (more…)

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Success Advice

How to Overcome the Emotional Rollercoaster of Success

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If you’re reading this, I’ll let you in on a little secret: you’re a human being. You have feelings, emotions, beliefs, complexity, and a mind that’s always racing. Your feelings at any given moment in your life have the power to affect what you do and how consistently you do it. (more…)

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Success Advice

5 Important Choices that Make Life Worth Living and Success Taste Sweeter

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As we start another year, you’re probably thinking about your life goals, dreams, aspirations, and what you want to accomplish. We know that New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad reputation because most people lose focus after the first few months and the first signs of resistance. (more…)

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