First 50 days in new sales role/function

The first 50 days in a sales role
The first 50 days is an opportunity for the sales person to establish the base for him/her to become the star sales performer over a period of time

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    Importance of Sales function & Sales team in any organization

    There is an old saying…..everybody is a salesperson because they SALE their point-of-view to get their job done…..convince their way to what they want….NO….ITS NOT SALES….Sales is much bigger than that and have for more cascading effect. Such is the effect of sales function that corporate leaders have gone ahead & requested employees from all departments in the organization to show traits of sales team..👍😵

    If we look @ the universe of Marketing & Sales personnel in Indian Market, a whooping more than 90% are in sales. If we go down to the management institutes across India…(there are roughly around 4500 in numbers)…..among those who major on Marketing….more than 95% land-up in sales job…..well… tell you……if one is not among the top few ranked management colleges…..chances are students who major in other function like Finance….HR…..also land up in sales role…!!

    In any organization, sales is one of the biggest departments in terms of the number of employees. The spectrum is so huge, an housewife to Head-Sales, all work in sales…..from work-from-home…to…part-time….to….working round-the-clock….sales is everywhere. The same vast range is also visible in the compensation in sales…which varies from few thousands of rupees to millions of rupees😧 Similarly, the number of opportunities that exist in sales outweighs a lot of the other functions in business. Look across any day of yours…literally any…..maximum chances are you may have bumped in into a sales rep of some company/store etc...😝…you may/mayn’t know.…that’s different…but they are everywhere..!!😜

    Here we are talking about a group of people who are the actual torch-bearer of Marketing & Sales just by sheer number of people who work in sales role. They are generally the face of the company in front of the customer & are the brandambassador in true sense of terms. The genre of sales team are the ones who knows the customer the best….they are the darling for any company as they get the much important revenue (which pays for the entire party….😜….&…also get the maximum flakes when things are not working right for the company😃. They start from scratch every-day/every-month/every-year….it’s one of those rare functions who have a routine schedule but which is highly dynamic with a very fast turn-around-time & super-quick decision making process. They are one of the best negotiators in business & generally very thorough with commercials. The variations in sales are so much that there is an old saying….Nothing is assured in sales…..except the determination & dedication of the salesman 👍

    Why does a sales person Fail?

    Why do the Sales person fails sometimes?
    Why do the Sales person fails sometimes?

    Still when you look around, many in sales fail…….there are lot of instances when a successful sales rep in one geography miserably failed in the other territory within the same organization with the same set of products😲😮. There are also several instances….when a star sales person in an area fails with a particular product….his/her replacement in the same area does a commendable job with the same product😯. To add to it, a sales rep returns to his territory, where he had done exceedingly well previously, only to fail miserably in his/her 2nd innings in the same region. All those cases clearly shows the concerned sales rep had the sales skill, else he/she won’t have succeeded even once. So one thing is for sure, sales-skill is not the only factor to determine the success in sales.

    Sales-skill is a necessary condition but not the sufficient condition for success in sales

    Sales skills is just a necessary condition and not the sufficient one!!!
    Sales skills is just a necessary condition and not the sufficient one!!!

    If one goes deeper, the initial few days in sales make a substantial difference in the way the sales stint of a sales rep shapes up in the territory/organization…&…one thing which majority of the sales-team will agree, in sales once the ball starts rolling….it does roll for some time 😉…means…once the sales starts picking up….there is no looking-back for a period of time….which is generally true across all forms of sales across industries. It’s the initial ground-work a sales rep does contributes the maximum in determining the initial success as a sales representative.

    Although there are lot of articles, books, research paper on Sales Management/Sales Techniques etc.…… I have come across very few which talks about those initial days of sales… to begin your stint in a new sales role. It may be your first job…or you are already in sales role but moving to a new assignment….it may be B2B/e-commerce/offline channel business/direct selling….the fundamentals of the ground-work to be done in the initial few days remain the same😄. This article tries to explore those points…….the first 50 days in sales job.

    Business-Situation understanding

    How many times have we heard this…..sales team need discounts/schemes/reduced price/higher credit period….etc.…etc.…many-many-many times right… the extent it’s almost synonymous to sales i.e. sales means discounts😳. Well, now the question is… it wrong to ask for it??....the sales-team is not keeping the money to himself/herself thus increasing his/her bank balance😅….then why is he/she asking for it….moreover why the management is reluctant to consider the case😮.

    In maximum of the cases, it’s the difference in the understanding of the business-situation which is creating this divide. Business-situation as in, the business/brand/product in its current stage or keeping future in mind. No way I am insisting for the sales team to develop an overall business understanding, it’s not their job, nor will that understanding generate results @least equal to the effort. Business-situation relates to all aspects of business (divisions to put it simple) which directly relates to sales.

    Business-situation understanding is the first thing in the to-do list in the first 50 days of sales role.
    Business-situation understanding is the first thing in the to-do list in the first 50 days of sales role.

    To take a simple example, the input cost (say raw material cost) has gone up….companies generally don’t instantaneously pass on the incremental cost to the customer on form of price increase……rather they do absorb it for some time. This time the sales-team asks for incremental discounts…..already with a thin profit margin the management most probably is going to say no 👍…or for example…the transportation cost to any particular location has gone up substantially….so company/brand in already taking a hit on margins…..any added margin reduction (in form of scheme/discount) doesn’t make business sense….so most-probably the request for incremental discount will be put-down. If knowing the business-situation helps this case to a large extent…the question is why doesn’t the sales team generally knows it??...well….its both the parties to blame….the management & the sales team. The sales team generally is reluctant to know anything else sales😵..&…in many cases the management is reluctant to share the details saying it’s confidential😜

    So what’s the solution……first the management….majority of the confidential information can be shared if one is clear about what to share & how to share….weekly/monthly sales meeting (this is as common a phenomenon in sales as meeting customers) can always be used as a sound-board to share information relevant to sales-team &…….. most importantly as a company/brand if one says they partner/trust their customers….it is to reflect equally for the team which manages those customers👍 The sales team needs to understand….specially the front-line….business understanding comes even before the sales/customer understanding….as finally sales is a part of the business. A holistic business-situation understanding helps in lot of things like…to align the sales effort in terms of scheme/discounts etc. so as to say one can plan better…..furthermore better understanding helps to be more knowledgeable & educated in front of their customers…in terms of the market understanding/movement…competition behavior…etc.….& then…& only then it’s solution-sales else it’s as always push-sales.

    Business-situation understanding is the first thing in the to-do list in the first 50 days of sales role

    Product Strategy understanding

    A product is doing-well….in case of offline channel business….the retailers are doing well…&….a group of end-customer is regularly buying from the retailers… case of B2B business….a set base of customers are formed who are happy… online sales….you have already identified a group of consumers who are constantly visiting your web-page, continuously engaging with your online feeds, giving positive brand-mentions & buying a product/group of product on a regular basis.👌

    Suddenly….one-fine day…you receive an email from Marketing team/Head-office…..that particular product is to be withdrawn from a certain date…or even worst….that particular product is already withdrawn….so stop promoting😯😮. Wait a sec…more than 10% of your current sales comes from that product & it’s one of the fastest growing product in your profile….it’s one of your best-bet for this year’s target…!!’s just so unfair….right….WRONG… 😈…. it’s not unfair….as it’s a business requirement…….probably you as a sales-person missed out on something. You were not clear about the product/brand objective. 

    Knowing a product & knowing the product objective is a completely different thing. This is an inherent problem I have seen across sales teams (primarily front-line, who matters the most), they know the product but rarely know the objective behind it.

    Knowing product & Knowing product objectives are two different things
    Knowing product & Knowing product objectives are two different things

    To give a simple real-life example, you want to travel from destination A to destination B & you have taken rail-ways as a strategy to do it… goal is transportation….strategy is railways… being in sales you master the railways👍…which is the right thing to do… don’t stop there …go ahead & educate your customers about how is railways superior…how is it better from other modes of transport…(you created your own USP….which maximum in sales do 😁😜but you didn’t bother to know the objective….tomorrow company changes strategy from railways to airways ….goal is still the same😄. Result….you are screwed😢….now you need to go to the same customer…&….contradict what you have been saying till now😵

    Product is just an example….it extends to other all elements of business-situation. Another simple example may be delivery of goods to customers….few companies do delivered load…few subsidized….few charge the customers…..sometimes even on to-pay basis…..point to note is sales team exist in all those business & they are selling..!!....which means there are different objectives why those business are following different models. Ohhh….. I forgot the reason the sales team says…..that’s the work of Head-office/bosses….. I don’t have time…see I am soooo busy….so many customers to handle….so many issues…product not available/no discounts…finance/accounts have credit blocked the customer….😛my only submission is…..all those points are to increase/@least retain sales…right…..knowing the objective also does the same purpose… better know it…..for your own benefit.😀

    In maximum of the companies, the input from sales team regarding new products is highly valued👍…also true is…in those companies only…. the maximum number of new product ideas from sales team is rejected😯. Ask any sales person, they will say that the company is not bothered about new products…. I have proposed so many…my market/customer needs this- this….competitor has launched that-that…the list is endless. In majority of the cases this happens because the sale person is keeping only the product in mind & not the objective. The day the sales team also considers the objective, the number of request will go down….the acceptance rate for the new product ideas will shoot up & most-importantly the sales guy will be able to better plan ways to handle his market/customer with current products😊

    Value of Sales Reports

    If a sales person understands the objective behind all company actions around him which directly affects the sales, he will be less surprised & won’t lose face in front of customers.

    Let me see how lucky u have been😨……well….did you get a sea-shell by sea-shore which has diamond in it😩…..well….don’t be sad….because you need to be more lucky to come across a sales-person who is happy making sales-report(😆😇. Does the sales person doesn’t know the value of sales report… maximum of the cases he does… …but he/she knows the benefit “theoretically”. It’s like I know smoking is harmful to health & still I smoke😉.

    Value of sales reports is theoretical for a sales guy
    Value of sales reports is theoretical for a sales guy

    The importance of data is generally based on 2 factors…1st the volume of data…&…2nd the dynamicity of the data. More the volume & more the dynamicity of data….the more important is the predictive analysis to derive trends. Hence, sales data is of paramount importance. One live example is e/m-commerce… of the success pillars of selling in this platform is data😊. So is future with big-data & AI. Data in case of e/m-commerce is generated itself--because of tracking & also the consumer inputs  the data instead of the sales-person. But other channels, it’s generally the sales-person who has to track & input the data!!

    Why a sales person doesn't like to prepare sales reports?

    Generally sales person doesn’t enjoy making sales-report because of 2 reasons…..first he/she doesn’t like making sales report….so rarely made one thoroughly…. so the sales-report was not good enuf….so hasn’t got the full benefit of it…so he/she doesn’t like making sales report. It’s like the old chicken-and-egg situation…which came first.😄

    2nd reason is the level of complexity company/brand has included in the sales report & the number of different types of report……many times it looks it’s like a “sales”manager designation needs to change to “sales-&-sales-reporting” manager😇. Company/brand….first told the sales team to input data, it didn’t meet their expectation…..then put sales enablement tool for the sales team…it still did not work effectively…then linked the sales enablement tool to sales…..still results were not as expected….then gave sales team incentive for data generation….no…still not there…..then went to channel & installed software….got some numbers not enuf……then went to point-of-sale to generate data….well….it’s still not 100% there I believe😵😇

    Less complex reporting formats can encourage sales team to comply better
    Less complex reporting formats can encourage sales team to comply better

    The answer to this riddle is simple…..sales team(specially front-line sales team who is primarily responsible for data generation) did not have a buy-in…they felt it as a no-value add exercise to their sales numbers😜. My little submission to company/brand, plz look@ the basic reporting format of any online/e/m-commerce sales, the data points are less and the analysis of the data is more. Get the basic data from sales-team…you may always add-on with time/practice/habit/buy-in & plz get the analysis done separately….elementary level software is good-enuf as a start-point….ohhh….most important…then plz share that analyzed data with the sales-team, with a scope for them to do their analysis also..!!

    Importance of historical data

    Let’s take a simple example to understand the importance of sales report….customer has come up with a question/problem-statement which the sales guy needs to respond. In maximum of the cases, the same problem statement/similar problem statement has been previously asked by some other customer @ some point-of-time in history….it has to be…because customers/maximum of them @ least(😝 generally don’t create problems out-of-thin-air. Think you are the sales-guy sitting in front of your customer who has asked you that unexpected question… think somebody comes up to you with a sales report which has couple of cases in the past where the customer has asked the same/similar question…..with the reply the sales-guy @ that point of time has given & the corresponding customer response to that reply. Wooooowwwwww…..your problem is 50% solved..!!...

    Study of past sales data in first 50 days of sales stint can be very helpful for a sales person
    Study of past sales data in first 50 days of sales stint can be very helpful for a sales person

    In the first 50 days of sales role, the sales person needs to thoroughly study the past sales-data of his/her market/customer & if required, make new sales-format for him/her & the team (@local level) which should be the starting point of all discussion with the team & the customer, in future

    Many of us have gone through this…..a new person has joined your business/department…..first few days how does one form the impression about the new joinee😦…well different people have different ways to look @ it & different parameters to form an impression….but one parameter is generally common for everybody……the sincerity/hard-work the new joinee shows up  in the initial days👍

    The sales person who joins a new role is also like that new joinee that we talked about. You may have years of sales experience under your belt & been a star sales performer in all your previous sales stint….it DOESN’T MATTER. Most probably you will come across those set of customers/market who have been in that business far more number of years than you have been….or have been associated with the company with far more number of years than you have been….the initial days it’s your sincerity/hard work that pays…..plz remember that hard-work/sincerity may/mayn’t show up in results & in most of the cases it won’t show up in the result. But it will do what is more important than the results in those initial days….It will gain the much needed confidence/respect/trust of the customers/market/partner who will be the most important people for you in days to come.

    Visible hardwork - help in relationship building

    It’s a common saying….relationships are one of the most important thing in sales & it comes with years of association…true….but it starts with those initial days. I have come across many good sales people who make this fundamental mistake, they want to make the change from day 1. Well, to tell you it’s not possible….YOU CAN'T BRING THE CHANGE FROM DAY 1…because the people through whom/partnering whom you are to bring that big change needs to align to you….your thought process….else over a period of time it will be hostilities/mis-trust/complaints & non-cooperation from them.
    Visible hardwork in first 50 days in sales is critical in building the base for a long term relationship in market
    Visible hardwork in first 50 days in sales is critical in building the base for a long term relationship in market

    The sales person in first 50 days needs to be sincere/hard-working which is visible to his/her customers/partners/market to gain the confidence/respect/trust which forms the base of the relationship management in days to come

    Lets come to the last point……which maximum of the sales team does in their first 50 days of sales role….visit customer/market, understand competition, start talking to other stakeholders in the company like supply chain, finance/accounts, marketing etc.. & understand product/commercials👍.Well, it’s very important….& needs to be done with highest level of seriousness…...but it’s one of the points that needs to be addressed in the first 50 days..!!

    1st 50 days are an opportunity for the sales person to establish the base for him/her to become the star sales performer over a period of time
    1st 50 days are an opportunity for the sales person to establish the base for him/her to become the star sales performer over a period of time 

    The first 50 days is an opportunity for the sales person to establish the base for him/her to become the star sales performer over a period of time. If not used properly, this first 50 days will haunt  during his/her tenure where he/she would need to put much more efforts to overcome the negativities generated in the first 50 days.

    Rest…welcome to one of the most HAPPENING…REWARDING..&…definitely ROCKING role in business…..Sales..👏👏

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