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By Rockford Hunt
The characteristics and skills required to be a sales rep in today’s world have drastically changed from when I was a young and eager associate. The Modern Day Sales Rep has become a hybrid of old tactics, new strategies and technical expertise--only vaguely resembling the salesperson I used to be.
I remember when I started in sales. I was handed a list and told to start dialing. 100 calls a day, 5 days a week. “Dialing for dollars,” they called it, and that is just what we did. All it took was the ability to talk on the phone and the determination to keep dialing; quantity over quality. Now, fast forward 15 years...
My current day involves:
1. Strategy- Persona Development, Customer Journey Management... Yes, you need a real marketing strategy. I can’t emphasize this enough, too many clients try and skip this step. Skipping this step is a mistake.
2. Content Writing- LOTS and LOTS of content writing; email outreach, blog articles, proposals. Content makes The Modern Sales Rep relevant and helps start the conversation.
3. Data Management- Most obviously, who to target? Not so obvious, why target them. Using a scoring system is most helpful when deciding not only who, but why. Lookout for an upcoming article that discusses lead scoring, both pre sales lead scoring and progressive lead scoring. Understanding you analytics has become essential in time and resource management of your sales efforts.
4. Email Sequencing- Effectively managing communication through email requires organized outreach and constant testing. It involves having the right process integrated in to a good marketing automation software.
5. Digital marketing - SM, SEO, and strategic paid marketing are necessary tools for spreading a message or idea, article, or other content. I also use social media for prospect data mining (did someone get a new job, what events is someone attending, etc). More traditional digital marketing efforts are either falling on sales people or just not getting done.
6. Networking- Building a network is key. Attending events, responding on LinkedIn, keeping in touch with old clients and friends. It all helps.
7. Public Speaking- Yes, this is the #1 fear of the average person. But, as you may have already concluded, The Modern Day Sales Rep is far from average.
8. Platform Development- Sales automation and integration of sales software is an essential part of any effective sales platform. Just remember that without a proper process, and management, your software platform will not be effective.
9. Event Marketing- Hosting and attending the right events is a great way to meet new prospects and show them your expertise.
10. Effective Management Skills- Once The Modern Day Sales Rep figures out he/she can not do all of the above alone, it's important to have the management skills and planning wherewithal to integrate the right talent to support these efforts.
Oh yeah, and I still do phone calls.
Now while I would never forget my past and all that made me what I am today, I still keep one eye on the future.
Todays sales rep must be creative enough to write content, analytical enough to manage data, outspoken enough to speak in front of a crowd AND possess the listening skills to succeed in one-on-one interactions.
Additionally, an understanding of basic programming principles, social media platforms, and integrating sales automation tools won’t hurt you either!
I’ve finally come to the conclusion that The Modern Day Sales Rep is a culmination of all the things that the company is too busy to do themselves in order to attract customers.
Luckily for some of us “Modern Day Sales Reps,” we have evolved into intuitive, diversified, intellectuals with all the skills required to succeed in today’s modern day environment. Unfortunately, the rest of you will be still stuck “dialing for dollars.”
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