What I learned in my first job might help you

Looking back on my first job as a salesperson for NCR Business Forms starting in 1982, I realized I learned a lot from the first few months and years.  While some of what I learned was completely dumb luck and some deliberate, I hope it helps you as you look to advance your career and/or simply drive more business as a salesperson.  Here are some ideas that stand out…

Get the most out of training

Soon after starting I was sent to Dayton, OH for 3 weeks of crammed in product and sales training along with approximately 15 other new reps.  I cannot say I can recall specifically, however, I will guess that after about 3 – 4 days we were on overload.

When I returned to the Hartford, CT office our manager left the company.  Several of us were essentially on our own.  Even after a new manager was in place, there was little to no follow up coaching that would have reinforced the training…so 2 plus weeks were wasted.

  • What did I learn?

Make a plan to follow up on training you participate in.  Do not wait for the coaching to find you…go orchestrate it yourself with others that have more experience on the topic.

Understand what your management wants

Two weeks into being in the field we had a new sales manager start.  Within about another week, this manager pulls me and another new rep into her office and roasts us for not selling enough.  I am sure I stood there with my mouth hanging open, not knowing what to say…but let’s be real…first sales job, 3 weeks in the field and no coaching. 

  • What did I learn?

Identify what your manager expects from you for upcoming months, quarters and for the year.  Work backwards from there, develop a plan of attack and ask others for help in reviewing your plan.

How much respect does your organization get internally?

It took a few months, but it became clear early on that our division was not highly respected in the company.  We were an afterthought from the perspective of sales teams that were selling technology solutions.  Lots of energy had to be invested internally to gain respect.

  • What did I learn?

Look at your current role and/or the new one you are pursuing…how are you and your organization treated by other sales teams?  Senior management?  If the answer is not pretty, think first about how you can change the perception.

Share your stories about first jobs and what you learned!

It would be great to hear about your first job and what you learned.  I am sure there are many valuable lessons others could benefit from hearing.  Feel free to contact me directly for ideas and/or help on this or other topics!

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