When I pictured myself starting out in an entry-level sales role, I saw it going a lot like when I would go door-to-door selling cookie dough and magazines for my grade school fundraiser. I remember riding my bike around my neighborhood hopeful that my neighbors would bite on my pre-rehearsed sales pitch. In between houses I would keep a running count in my head of the number of orders I had left before I had enough for the $250 mini fridge at the top of the prize chart. The beauty of it all was how basic the formula for success really was back then. It was as simple as making the effort – going door to door or calling relatives – and being persistent until your goal was reached.
But instead of cookie dough and magazines, it was storage systems and industrial equipment, and unlike my friendly neighbors, I would be trying to hold the attention of busy professionals – where a cold call was the last thing they wanted taking up their time. Although the variables in the formula for success diversified, I realized that the principle of the matter remained the same; staying diligent and disciplined is more than half of the battle, and the foundation of success is built on doing.
In my first 6 months at Axiom, there is so much I have learned so far, but thought I would take this time to highlight my top five takeaways for a millennial starting in sales:
- Don’t forget the basics. “You’d be amazed at the number of salespeople who fall short on the simple stuff,” said one of our top sellers. I have learned that if you remain diligent and punctual with customer/vendor follow ups, you will stay productive, efficient and organized – while satisfying the end-user. Customers appreciate being in-the-know and in today’s world – the faster the better.
- Think best solution, rather than making a sale. It’s easy to get greedy and sale hungry (especially being green to this industry), but it’s honesty that customers will remember and stay loyal to when you provide them with the right solution. Working for an operations improvement company, where finding the right solution is our objective, has engrained this into my mind pretty naturally.
- Leverage your tech-savvy upbringing. As cold calls become colder alongside the many other ways to reach a consumer, it’s our generation that has the upper hand. Utilizing the many social networks and marketing tactics which are second nature to us can be leveraged as a compliment to making the verbal contact. LinkedIn is a great example where you can research prospective customers, forge professional relationships, and use your profile as a free marketing piece – filled with your company’s content.
- Be honest when you don’t know something. There is nothing that a customer appreciates more than transparency and integrity. Providing value to the customer, even if that requires saying “I don’t know, but I will find that out for you,” establishes trust and dodges the typical sales trope of smooth talk first, information later.
- Ask lots of questions and be grateful for the answers. This piggy backs off number 4 and can go a couple of ways. Asking the right questions to your customer streamlines your pursuit to the right solution. Asking lots of questions to your vendor enhances your vault of product knowledge. And tapping into the pool of knowledge that resides with your seasoned sales team helps accomplish both. It not only accelerates your career path, but it helps build lasting relationships and makes for a great company culture.
Regardless of my level of experience, it’s these pieces of advice I have witnessed from Axiom’s experienced sales team that I plan to live by, in hopes of winning as many mini fridges my cubicle will hold.
(Author Bio) Kyle Fritz is an Inside Account Manager at Axiom, Inc. Kyle graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Degree in Strategic Communications and Spanish. In his free time, he enjoys participating in leagues/tournaments/outings for golf, bags, pool, ping pong, or bowling. He also enjoys watching Game of Thrones, Friends, and The Office.