How I Got Started Selling in a New Industry
4 Steps to Embrace to Ensure Success
Whether you are new to sales or not, selling in a new industry can be a daunting experience. It is easy to succumb to the fears of not knowing anyone, not knowing the language, not knowing your offering, and not knowing what your future clients needs are.
I know this firsthand as I've been there numerous times. Early in my career I decided to enter the IT services industry. Going in, I only knew at a very high level what the various elements of a successful IT practise were. I had spent 10 years prior in the insurance industry working in conjunction with IT but not in IT. I recall being nervous to reach out to people; I did not want to look anything but knowledgable. I had fears of hurting my reputation and the reputation of the company that took a chance on me. I had a stereotypical image in my mind of what it meant to be an effective salesman and I thought that was what I needed to be. The thought paralyzed me because I could not foresee myself in that capacity.
I decided to map out a plan of action. I followed the plan and within a few months I felt at home in the IT industry. Results started to happen for me and for my company.
Here are the 4 steps that I embraced. I recommend them to you as well.
1. See the End from the Beginning.
In order to have success in a new industry you need to be true to yourself. Why did you decide to enter the industry?
I saw a huge opportunity in technology. I wanted to be a part of it. I saw myself being an influential player in the industry. Keeping my vision close at heart made me peservere I saw the end from the beginning. I am glad I did.
2. Mindset Shift.
You do not need to be a pusher to be successful.
A recent study done conducted by Adam Grant at the University of Pennsylvania entitled Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal (Link) showed that the best sales professionals are not Introverts or Extraverts. They are actually Ambiverts. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being Introverts and 10 being Extroverts, the best sales people come in at a 4 to 4.5 (Ambiverts).
We need to throw out the traditional belief that we need to be aggressive in our follow up. We need to be ourselves. We need to be there to guide the customer and answer their questions.
Devote time (I devoted a lot of my personal time) to learning the industry language. Learn what trends are happening in the industry, learn about key players, and learn about secondary players. Create a profile for all your company's existing customers. What have their needs been? Research their industry. What are the leading companies in their industry doing? Most of this information can be found through a Google search.
4. Get Out of the Building and Talk to People. (Further Reading on this)
I leveraged the existing networks of the company's owners. I sat with the owners and mined them for contacts. I called or emailed these contacts and made it a point to reference the owners. I gained an understanding of the organization and sourced out further connections. I successfully ran for a board position with the industry association. My network increased even further. I drank more coffee with partners, industry players, resources, fellow employees, existing clients, and prospective clients in that year than I drank in my entire life. I completely engrossed myself in the industry.
If you are new to sales or new to an industry realize that you are not alone. Everyone starts from the beginning. It's those that see the end from the beginning that break through. Remember to spend time ensuring your mindset is in check. Continually educate yourself and never hold back from getting out there and talking to people. Your success waits on the other side.