My First Day in Sales

Usually you become senior on any discipline making mistakes. And the best way in my point of view is making them freely. When I started in sales I was so young I could let myself do any mistakes I wanted, I wasn’t compromising as much as I am doing now, and I was aware that there are things you can’t learn. It’s part of losing fear to anything, rejection, loss, embarrassment and finally a low sales figure.

My mistake was a basic chore, so common in sales. What I did was just follow my boss order, which was sending a recently updated price list to a customer. I didn´t had any assigned customers, I was starting my career as a sales assistant. Email contained an attachment which I just forwarded, adding a few comments my manager told me to write over the phone.

Next day, an urgent meeting was set with the customer. Customer (an old customer) was raging mad and angry because he received a list with the prices for all the dealers we had. He had access to special prices we did have for ultra big dealers, as well as rebate figures, and some special products we used to sell for a lower price as kits, and every bit of information he mustn’t have. It was inevitable for the customer to be mad.

My manager gave any kind of explanations to the raging customer. However, it was a trembling year with this customer. We went down 20% of our sales budget  for a single error of mine.

This lesson, is a lot of lessons:

1. Double check anything you email. Even if it was revised by the CEO. If you feel something is wrong, don´t send it and talk to your boss to clarify the issue.

2. Never forward anything you haven’t got a look at. Don’t wait ’till you feel miserably for saving 3 seconds of your life. Losing a customer is worst.

3. Set internal use/customer use parameters. Don’t just open talk, send emails or show information to customers before being sure of what’s strictly for internal use.

4. Never trust completely on your manager. This doesn’t mean you disobey, it means giving  any direct order a second thought, and always discuss with your manager any fear. He should be listening to what you feel about any issue regarding the market.

Making an odd cold call

Someday I received an email from my boss, asking me to find out who was the purchasing decision maker for certain company on the US, since it was a large and very interesting prospect. I just want to make clear that prospect wasn´t assigned to my territory, it was assigned to other territory, but since the decision maker was in my territory,  and I had no problems ever making cold calls, or retrieving critical information from business prospects,  management thought I could easily help out this time.  This prospect had operations in other countries other than USA (as well as my company who had global presence)

It was a short email, not any extra information was shared. So I made some research online, and worked my way to speak with a purchasing manager who seemed to be charged for the purchasing department.

Here´s a recreation of the call:

– Hi Marian, my name is Baja Salesman, and I represent Company X.
– Hi Baja Salesman, how can I help you?
– Are you the P- Manager?
– Yes I am.
– Well in my Company X we´re interested in talking to you, because we feel we can help on your operation on Certain-Country. Bla , bla, bla
– We´ll I´m confused I´m getting this call, because we already deal with your company in the US and we have a Rep called John Smith. I don´t fully understand your call. Why do you call me?

This is a typical example of a sales manager who´s  always short on time, demanding tasks to their sales people, and not sharing critical information as : we are/ other company division is/our company is already dealing with them. I assume no one knew that we were already vendors for this company, and as in any company there was an assigned Sales Rep already. I don´t remember exactly, but I think our team didn´t knew that critical information. When you work on a company that has operations nearly everywhere,  internal information becomes critical.

Some rules to avoid my mistake above, are:

Research. This is the most important thing about your first call. Don´t  ever depend on your manager solely. Make your own research and that is not exclusively watching their You Tube videos or going thru their flash presentations on their website. That includes retrieving information from several sites, going thru your company´s CRM and search for them,  drop names with your internal and external contacts, and be creative. You can always get lucky and bring information who can give you an edge.

Make Internal Historical Research. As with good-looking women,  with Big Companies,  you´re almost never the first to talk to them, and that includes your company.  Maybe you are new in the sales team. Always assume your company already made an offer before, or worst,  sold them and had any kind of issues  . You never know what you can get. Talk to the highest level if necessary,  or the older salespeople around. They can guide you.  There´s a huge difference between setting your strategy as : “I know we made business time ago, or we offered you some products you never bought because of this _____”  and “This is my first time here, and I´m sure ” . It´s unprofessional, it exposes your company inability to even remember who they called before and exposes you and your sales team as an inefficient one. You want to project a great, efficient, reliable and quality company. If your sales approach is as inefficient as this, they´ll think twice about buying your products. Be aware of this repetitive mistake!

Sales Professionals Meeting Point

This blog is made for people interested in sales. Here, I will daily share my experience in sales.

I would love to make case studies every once in a while, and share helpful resources so you can make your personal sales experience more efficient. And mostly, achieve great sales figures.


The Baja Salesman