The Definitions of a Good Sales Rep
The ultimate proof of a good sales call, naturally, is a sale. In a perfect world, the salesperson gained access to a decision-maker because of the rep’s ability to identify and solve a problem. A first appointment of discovery turns into a second appointment of solution. That, in turn, results in an order that is awarded based on merit and not on price. This is the way things should be and you can feel good about the job you’ve done. But short of that, there are other signs of success; other ways to know that you are on the right track:
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, you find a way to make sales calls every day by managing your time appropriately. You identify and achieve top priorities. You make mistakes, but you make them only once and you learn lessons so they are not repeated. You are pleasantly persistent, drilling home a message of differentiation and value so that it results in face-to-face meetings.
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, the prospect/customer is so impressed that he or she offers you a job. You might hear something like, “I wish my salespeople were as diligent as you” or “I like how you used a variety of methods and messages to get through to me.” Your boss might not appreciate this gesture or see it as the compliment that it truly is, but this is rare air and should be breathed in with immense satisfaction.
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, an exasperated customer will gush, “I see you here all the time. Are we your only customer?” In a world full of text messages, tweets and Facebook posts, there is nothing like the face-to-face connection. Ultimately, customers become friends, making it a lot easier to do business, not to mention a lot more fun.
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, an inquisitive customer will ask, “Do you work here? I see you here all the time.” What a great thing that is! You pass through the hallways with the ease of an employee and there is a certain amount of credibility that comes from such comfort. Opportunity, too, because …
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, you’ve gotten to know every single last person in that account to the point that you might never need to prospect again. You are brought into new companies and new opportunities when the same customers leave Company A and go to work at Company B.
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, you don’t lose orders on price. In fact, you sell at a premium and the customer willingly pays it. Each time something goes well (rush order deadlines met, your design solution helps to overcome a business challenge, etc.), you send a thank you note to the client (cc’ing anyone in power) with complete details and thanking them for the opportunity to be of service, subtly (or perhaps overtly) reminding them why they buy from you so that when a low-cost competitor seeks to steal a job on price the client remembers everything that you do for them and thwarts the unwelcome takeover attempt.
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, your phone rings one day and the client is calling with the request: “We are having a product design/launch meeting and would welcome your input. Would you be able to sit in?” What’s happened is that you have moved from the quote stage of the job to the design stage. What’s happened is your brand — that of being a solutions provider — is being recognized and rewarded. No longer are you subject to the constant cycle of quotes and price. Now, your hard work has given you a place at the “cool table.”
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, you are constantly bringing existing clients new ideas. You never take their business for granted and never assume that a reorder is a given just because you are the incumbent vendor. A good salesperson never rests on his or her laurels. They recognize the fragility and vulnerability that exists at all times and continues to earn business and trust.
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, one order leads to another, you earn a greater share of the customer by selling your full line of products and services, and a long-term give and take relationship develops that resembles more of a strategic partnership than your standard client/vendor exchange.
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, you understand your clients to the point where you are an expert in their industry, aware of their challenges and are already ahead of them, setting up residence to battle their tomorrow’s problems. Part of this is achieved because your company believes in Dr. Joe Webb’s mantra: It is far more important to stay ahead of the customer than it is the competition. It helps to work for a forward-thinking company!
If you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, your name spreads and your chief source of new business becomes referrals. The phone rings and you hear, “I got your name from a mutual acquaintance ...” In this instance, if you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, you have the character and integrity to recommend a different company — and even the competition — if the needs of this customer cannot be met with your solution (think “Miracle on 34th Street”).
And if you’ve done a good job as a salesperson, you take the time to not only help out junior salespeople but learn from them as well. Even salespeople who do good jobs lose accounts due to no fault of their own and the tactics that got them to lofty sales levels might not be as effective as they once were. If this happens, understanding new rules and new sales tactics because you’ve done equal amounts of listening and talking to this next generation of reps helps to get your fundamentally sound sales message heard by the next generation of buyers and customers.
A good salesperson understands that his or her goal is to answer the daily question, “Did I do my job today?” in the affirmative. Sometimes this is made true because an order was placed, but not always. Sometimes you have to look elsewhere to find proof that the job you did that day was a good one.
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. Email him at Bill@AspireFor.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault are available at BillFarquharson.com.