A Letter to My 22-Year-Old Self: 11 Things You Should Know About Sales

September 25, 2013

Sales Career Advice: 11 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Job in Sales

Dear 22-Year-Old me,

Congratulations on your first sales gig! You’re going to kill it! (Or at least you think you are.) Inevitably, in a few years you are going to look back and think, “What the #$@! was I doing? I can do this so much better now. Why did anyone even talk to me?”

Well, yes, these are all valid points, but don’t worry! I’ve got you (and every other recent graduate who was just handed a phone and a salesforce.com account) covered. After talking with colleagues, friends, former bosses, and spending time on the phones, I have my list of everything I wish I could have told you on your first day of work.

So, here you are 22-Year-Old me — the need-to-knows, nice-to-haves, and money-making tips that will turn your dark days of dialing into a lucrative and rewarding career.

11 Things You Should Know Before You Start Your Career in Sales

  1. Never get too high, never get too low. And remember to start fresh every day, week, month, and quarter.
  2. It’s okay to be a jerk sometimes. If you are too nice, people are going to walk all over you and won’t take you seriously — but if you are too mean they also won’t want to talk.
  3. Don’t let people waste your time because you just want to get a meeting. There is a difference between true buyers and tire kickers. Look for those subtle differences.
  4. Keep those spirit fingers at bay. Showing too much excitement at any point makes you look like a newbie. You’re a professional. Act like you’ve been there before, even if you haven’t.
  5. Stop leaving voicemails day after day. It may help you hit your call goal, but it will never help you hit your appointment or opportunity goal.
  6. Short, concise, and casual emails do the trick. Don’t be too verbose even if you have a great story to tell.
  7. Walk away from every conversation asking for something! Whether it is the right person, contact info, time and date of next follow up, or how to pass along information — there is a reason for your call, so make sure you get the answers you need.
  8. If you can cold call, chances are you will be a rock star in a closing role. Yes, it’s a grind, but honing these skills will only help you in the long run.
  9. Use resources like LinkedIn and Jigsaw. It is important to find the people you are looking for and pick up a fact or two about them before placing a call. Use prospecting tools as a resource, but don’t spend all your time looking up arbitrary facts (in other words, don’t be a stalker).
  10. Prepare at night. (You should probably stop eating out anyway!) Use an hour at night when you are unwinding with dinner, wine, and the reality program of your choice to do your pre-call research and plan your next day.
  11. Don’t be afraid to ask for the close. Know what you want and ask for it. That’s how you got this job in the first place!

Looking for more lessons? Read my follow-up letter with 13 additional things I wish I’d known then (and can help you get ahead now).

What advice do you wish someone had given you when you first started in sales?


<strong>CeCe Bazar</strong> is an Associate on OpenView's investment team. She was previously a Sales Strategist also at OpenView.