Just land your first gig a field sales rep? Welcome to the team, bud!
Working in outside sales is one of the most rewarding and effective ways to step up your sales game. Ninety days from now, you’ll have more experience closing deals than most people will ever have in their lives. You’ll be a better negotiator, a stronger communicator, and a more skilled leader.
. . . Plus, you’ll probably be poised to earn some awesome bonuses.
The question is, how do you hit the ground running? How do you go from the new kid on the block to a top performer?
We won’t lie to you—field sales are challenging. You’ve probably heard it said before, but managing your own territory, accounts, and packed schedule isn’t a cakewalk.
Before you get inside your own head, though, let’s take a deep breath. There’s no need for overwhelm! We have the only 9 strategies you’ll need to know to blow your new field representative position out of the water.
But, before we get into it, let’s talk basic definitions.
What exactly is a field sales rep, anyway?
If we’re going to super-simplify things, field sales reps—or outside sales reps, as they’re also called—go out into the field to meet with their prospects and clients.
Field sales reps often spend a big percentage of their time traveling to and from clients. Their schedules are flexible (if not unpredictable) and they often have quite a bit of autonomy in their day-to-day—booking their own meetings, making their own travel plans, initiating follow-ups, etc.
Usually, field sales reps sell products with a fairly long and complex sales cycle, like B2B sales for manufacturing, food services, and pharmaceutical companies. They may only close a handful of deals, but they tend to be longer-term and higher value deals,
How are field sales different than inside sales?
With very few exceptions, inside sales reps communicate with prospects and clients entirely remotely. They may use email, phone, or messenger to guide prospects down the sales funnel.
Typically, inside sales reps deal with a high volume of deals that are pretty transactional, like sales for SaaS companies.
And, unlike field sales reps, inside sales reps usually have a traditional 9-to-5 job in an office setting with more managerial oversight (although remote sales are becoming more and more popular).
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s get into the only 9 strategies you’ll need as a new field sales rep.
1. Embrace a 30-60-90 day plan for new field reps.
Think of a 30-60-90 day plan as your blueprint for your first three months as a new employee. Simply put, it outlines exactly what you should accomplish within the first 30, 60, and 90 days.
We love these plans because they help you to stay on track of your objectives and day-to-day—and, maybe most importantly, they help you know that you are staying on track. Sometimes it can be easy for us to get inside of our own heads and ask, “Should I be doing more? Am I doing this right?”
But with a 30-60-90 day plan, you’ll know exactly where you stand. That way, you can focus more on selling and less on “Ahhhh am I making a big mistake?!?”
The rest of these strategies we discuss here will focus on those first 30 days, since that’s really when you’re a “new” field rep. During that time, you’re really getting acquainted with:
- Your team
- Your territory
- Your offering
- Your audience / market
It’s a lot, no doubt, but you have a full month to settle in—which is more than enough time! (Also, don’t worry—at the end of this article, we will point you in the right direction for your next sixty days!)
2. Know your offering inside and out.
It almost goes without saying . . . almost.
As a new field rep, it’s your job to know your offering like the back of your hand. The more comfortable you are with all the nitty-gritty details, the more confident you’ll be in your meetings, the more collected you’ll feel as you close deals, and the stronger you’ll be able to negotiate.
Set aside a good amount of time to study up on your product or service. What offer do most customers buy? What features are included? If they decide to purchase today, what benefits can they expect to see and when?
It’s important that you ask questions and talk with your team members—it’s all practice for the field. Find out what resources are available to support you in your pitches, like handouts, case studies, or decks. Learn what exactly needs to happen if a customer says “yes.”
We could go on and on, but ultimately, the questions you need to ask will be unique to your product or service. So get in there and ask away!
3. Understand your sales territory.
Knowing your sales territory is just as important as knowing your offering—it’s the peanut butter to your jelly.
Your sales territory represents a group of alike leads, prospects, and customers. Many times, sales territories are defined by geographical boundaries, but this doesn’t always need to be the case—for example, some companies may assign one rep all the boutique accounts in an area and another lead all the corporate leads.
To get to know your sales territory, browse whatever analytics or demographics you have available on the area.
If a rep had this territory before you, you should be able to see what they collected. If not, you may have access to details via data enrichment in your CRM. For example, some CRMs can automatically find and auto-fill information about leads that fall within specified parameters.
As you manage your sales territory, you will find it helpful to segment the leads inside—that is, divide them even further into different groups based on their qualities, like:
- Profit potential
- Company size
4. Breakdown SMART mini-goals to hit your target KPI.
Your manager will give you target KPI to hit—but often, it’s your job to make SMART mini-goals to pave the road to get there.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Or, put another way, they are tangible goals that you need to complete by a specified deadline.
In order to hit your big goals, create smaller stepping stones to guide your path there. For example, if you’re supposed to acquire at least 6 new customers this quarter, you know that you need to acquire two new customers every month—or one every other week.
Beyond dividing goals up over time, think of what separate, smaller tasks you need to accomplish in order to achieve big objectives. For example, to acquire 6 customers, you may need to find 30 new prospects and qualify 12 new leads.
5. Focus on how you can make your prospect’s life easier.
You might have heard this saying: people don’t buy the drill—they buy the hole in their wall.
When it comes to selling, the name of the game is benefits. Instead of rattling off a list of product features to your prospects, take some time to think about how each of those features benefits them.
In order to do this most effectively, you’ll need to see things from your prospect’s point of view. What are their pain points? Their desires? How will your offering either make their life easier or help them to achieve their goals? Lean into it!
The good news is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Talk to other team members about their customer avatars and how they pitch benefits to their prospects.
6. Take full advantage of useful technology.
There’s a reason you don’t see salespeople running around with Rolodexes these days—modern technology is awesome!
Find out what tools your team currently uses and play around with them for a bit to familiarize yourself. Likely, your team has a go-to CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software like Hubspot or Salesforce. Watch some walk-through videos and get comfortable!
Something else you’ll probably find helpful is data visualization software. For example, Zoho helps you to see your data in useful graphs so that you can analyze and make stronger insights.
Source: Zoho Analytics
Lastly, take advantage of specialized tools to help you be more productive with your time. As a field rep, you’re going to find yourself enjoying a lot of “windshield time”—that is, time behind the wheel of your car. Minimize your time-in-transit with CRMs with built in route optimization software.
There are all kinds of technologies out there to help you be the most effective salesperson you can be, so don’t be afraid to explore! We find that it’s helpful to incorporate one new tool into your routine at a time and to try to honestly evaluate if it saves you time, energy, and effort—or if it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
7. Prepare for the inevitable “no’s.”
No’s are going to happen. It’s just a fact of life for sales reps!
Instead of looking at no’s as a personal rejection, look at them as welcome time-savers. At the end of the day, you don’t want to spend one second more on an unqualified prospect. So when somebody unqualifies themselves by saying “I’ll pass”—good! Now you can focus your energy on more qualified leads.
When you get a “no,” you should always prepared to figure out why. Approach it extremely casually and calmly: “I totally understand. If you don’t mind me asking, is there a particular reason you’re not interested in our offering today?”
The trick is to not try to change their minds. You’re just trying to figure out how you can better qualify your leads next time, or tailor your sales funnel slightly differently.
8. Master the art of the follow-up.
Not every prospect is going to reply to your first email. In fact, according to a study by Iko System, of the people who eventually replied to an outreach effort, more than 30% only replied after the seventh email!
Source: Milkshake Blog
To ensure your follow-ups don’t slip through the cracks, harness the power of email automation. Schedule messages to go out to your prospects in advance so that you can focus on other efforts.
More than that, though, think of your follow-ups as any contacts that happen after your deal closes. Your best customers are the customers you already have—there is an abundance of statistics to prove that repeat customers are cheaper and more profitable than new ones.
So lean into your existing customers!
Schedule regular follow-ups with your current accounts to check-in and see if there’s anything you can help them with. During your conversation, be sure to present any upsells or cross-sells that you know would be beneficial to them.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
We’ve mentioned it several times already throughout this post, but it bears repeating: don’t be afraid to ask your team for help!
Even if you have some friendly competition within the office, at the end of the day, everybody wants the same thing: for the company to succeed. So reach out to your manager and other sales team members with any questions you may have.
Most people are happy to give advice, and showing your new coworkers that you’re taking this seriously will always be a positive.
Your next 30 days and beyond.
Your first thirty days are going to be a whirlwind—but with a gameplan, it can be a manageable, productive whirlwind that sets you up for success down the road. Going forward, your focus will shift to evaluating and optimizing (don’t worry, we got you covered there, too!).
Looking for more advanced strategies after your 30 days are up? Check out our post Sales Strategies All Great Outside Sales Leaders Should Know