Starting a new gig can be challenging. No matter how versed we are at something, when we switch roles, companies, responsibilities, and projects, it can be overwhelming. I recall moving into the SaaS space from a 15-year kitchen career, and feeling inadequate for months. Everyone kept telling me “You‘re doing great”. And “You sound awesome on the phone.” I wasn’t sure what that meant because I was only being myself.
I was a freshly graduated, 32-year-old, non-traditional college student that started college at twenty eight years-old, with four kids. The way I looked at it, these people were just saying these things to me to make me feel good because it was the culture of the company I was working for at the time. I had no idea it would lead to everything that it did. I think some people are very fortunate to know what they want, and how to get there. They make a plan, and stick to it.
Others end up where they end up very naturally. Either road requires hard work and dedication. Not every new sales rep planned to be in that role. Sometimes, the perfect sales or prospecting role finds us. Not the other way around.
Learning The Ropes In A Prospecting Role
We have to learn the ropes when we first start out. After all, how can one win the game, if one doesn’t know the rules? Right? At every new job, there’s a period where we’re getting our bearings. During this period we learn all sorts of things. It’s called “ramp time”. In this time period, we discover the language we need to be using with our prospects, as well as our colleagues and coworkers. We take on projects that help us better understand our value propositions. We get assignments that aid in our ability to adopt the products or services we intend on selling, and much more.
Who do we target? Why do we target them? What personas are we interested in speaking with at these companies that match up with our ideal customer profiles? It’s not difficult to see why it could be overwhelming to take on a new prospecting role at any new company. It takes great planning skills, not only for the people that hired you, but for YOU, in order to be prepared to take on the role you’ve been hired for.
In the process of taking on all this new responsibility, there’s an element of guilt. It’s difficult for sales professionals not to look at their worth in the form of dollars earned, or closed opportunities. We have a tendency to feel guilty because someone decided to pay us to be “making sales”, and in the aforementioned ramp time, there’s not a ton of dollars being put on the table.
This makes us feel a million emotions all at once. You may feel you are not performing well. Imposter Syndrome sets in and you begin to doubt your ability to produce at all. It’s common to feel as if you are being “unproductive”, when in reality you’re planting seeds with prospects as you reach out with softer, human, and less aggressive touches.
The key, is to remember that you are new to the role you currently have, the product you are currently selling, and the company you are currently with. You may have spent the last 3-5 years being the top sales rep at your last company. Believe it or not, you started off feeling the same way there as you feel right here, right now. It amazes me how we lose track of the known facts when we start a new sales gig at a new company. Let’s take a look at some of those.
- It takes many touches to generate a meaningful conversation with a prospect
- Time to learn is important if you want your ramp to lead to success
- It usually takes a up to 3 weeks to get all the tech, and licensing in order
- Everyone still has a family/personal life they need to maintain
- You were hired for more than just your ability to put dollars on the table
After looking at the list, you probably see that what you’re feeling is on the inside isn’t something that’s being impressed upon you from any outside sources. You feel overwhelmed, but for no reason at all. Take your time. Take a deep breath. Do one thing at a time. You are a human being. It’s not your job to try and keep up with all the automation, AI, and machine learning that’s happening all around us all the time. Don’t lose the human side of you, thinking you will somehow miraculously be better, more efficient, or even more effective than the tech, and algorithms that your new company might use.
In the beginning of the ramp period, leaders will often delegate tasks down to you. These tasks have a way of coming off as menial, or like “grunt work”. This is not the side of your ramp time to focus on. What can you learn from these assignments? That’s the question you need to be asking yourself. Ramp time, is a great way to learn how you will structure your time management routines at your new sales role. I always recommend blocking off your calendar daily, weekly, monthly, and so on, so that you know where your time needs to be spent.
It can be a mental drain to focus on everything at once, and at the end of that day, nothing gets accomplished because you’ve been all over the place with your focus. Results can come in many forms, not just dollars earned. Although, you need to be sure, and block off time for that part of your responsibility as well. . Don’t work yourself out of getting the results you want. Block off the time to get it done.
In the grand scheme of things, your new prospecting role can turn into a sales career. Don’t move too fast. It’s great to be productive, but I’ve heard it argued that it’s better to do things right than to do them fast. In sales, that fits really nicely into your ramp time. As you move throughout your ramp, you will pick up new skills that will likely make you faster, more efficient, or even more effective overall. Learning is a never ending cycle that is always, and I mean always, happening in sales. Only fools know everything in our world, and just when we think we have it all figured out, we find something new to try, learn, and experiment with.
Make no mistake, starting a prospecting role is hard, and it takes a patient individual to make it look easy, and not squirm in their chair a little bit everyday. So if this article is reaching you because you’ve been in sales for less than 6 months, and feel overwhelmed, or taken on a prospecting role and are feeling a little rocked, stay the course! Let the dust settle, and find your path to success through good planning, and diligence.
“Sales done right is the best job in the world. Done wrong, it’s the worst.” – John Barrows