5 Things That New Sales Reps Need To Do

Things you need to start doing if you are a new sales rep

My first sales leadership position was with a middleware software company I helped found in the 1990s. The CEO of this company was a bit of a crazy guy and he had some pretty interesting ideas about a lot of things, including who should be on my sales team. Hence our original strategy to hire twelve really smart graduates right out of college and teach them what new sales reps need to be the best sales team in the world.

We did pretty well, built the company up to over $30M in sales in four years, took it public and eventually sold it for over $100M. (In the pre-internet bubble days that was considered a lot of money.) Our success was, in no small part, due to this crack sales team we created.

Many people seem to believe that sales skill is inherent in a person, that “learning” sales isn’t something people do. I beg to differ. It’s a skill just like skiing or flying drones; it can be taught to even people who never thought they could sell. Therefore, I’d like to share our methods with you – the five most important things I would teach a new sales rep (And if I had to add a sixth to this list, it would be to use a proactive CRM, like Spiro.)

Ask Open Ended Questions

If you want your clients to be responsive to your efforts, open-ended questions are the way to go. People want you to understand their specific needs, so position questions to let them tell you. For example, if you ask “Are you interested in this product?” a customer can simply say no and that is it. Instead, if you ask what features they are looking for in a product, they have to start talking. Therefore, consider your sales position investigative in nature. Aim to uncover as much about their needs as possible.

Great salespeople ask themselves six questions every day. Download our free guide and learn what they are.

Really Listen Well

I’m a fan of active listening. When you are actively listening to potential clients you are then able to repeat back to them, in your own words, what they have communicated to you. This shows that you are comprehending and retaining the information they are sharing, it also shows (without a doubt) that you are paying attention, not just pretending to. You can then effectively provide your prospect with a personalized solution.

I’m Going To Repeat That: Really Listen Well

Yes, I was serious about it! You really need to be listening. Additionally, I will add here you also need to be able to listen to the things that aren’t said. Body language can reveal a lot about your clients’ interest levels and mood. Focusing on the way your clients move and act will reveal significant depth beyond the verbal answers you are being given. Body language is as valuable as audible words and sometimes more so. By taking these non-verbal cues, you can tell if someone is losing interest or ready to buy.

Learn How to Quickly Build Rapport

Building rapport will enable you to build trust, gain confidence and establish a relationship with your clients. There are three things to learn about rapport building: reciprocity, mirroring and commonality. These might sound a little cumbersome but they basically revolve around giving clients something they want or need, matching their behaviors (and/or tone) and then discovering what interests you share.

The master of rapport building is my friend and former colleague Matt Johnson. I’ve been on hundreds of calls with Matt where we were engaging with people that we’ve never spoken with before. Matt always was able to find a shared contact, anecdote, or something to quickly make a personal connection.

Position with Results NOT Features

Features and functions are directly representative of your product, they come with it no matter who you sell it to. However, your clients are looking for benefits for them, things that will specifically and directly impact their lives in some desired way. Thus, it’s imperative that you tie the features of your products to how they will benefit your customer’s life.

Putting it All in Focus

If you’re a new sales rep, work on your listening. Take notes if that helps you concentrate on what your prospects are saying. Open ended questions will allow the customer to literally open up, presenting more opportunities to listen. Then, build rapport and present powerful benefits tailored to the customer to close the sale. Use these 5 tips and know that sales is a skill than anyone can learn.

Also published on Medium.

About the Author

Adam Honig

Adam is the co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a natural sales leader with a mission to help salespeople make more money using artificial intelligence -- or any sort of intelligence for that matter. Adam has been a founder of four companies which resulted in two triumphant IPOs and two legendary mergers. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


  1. I was a sales manager/trainer in my profession that also taught it is way better to be a great listener than having a gift of gab. Listening is a product of knowing how to probe with the right qualifying questions. Gabbers simply do not listen and they are like trying to throw darts at a bulls eye blindfolded. Great listeners learn from their prospects how and why to hit the bulls practically eye every time.

    An analogy I used and taught put this all into prospective …. Imagine you have a 9mm gun with an empty clip. Every qualifying question should receive an answer designed for your presentation and close. Every answer gives you an imaginary bullet you can put into your clip. As long as you ask questions and get answers you may keep loading your unlimited clip with bullets. The moment you stop qualifying you are no longer allowed to add bullets to the clip. Time to lock and load and start shooting bullets (presentation and closing info). The idea is to have more bullets left in the clip after you close. That is being successful. On the other hand, if you run out of bullets and you have not closed you will did not do your job properly in the qualifying, presentation, and closing of the sale.

    Will everyone close? No, they wont, but with this technique you will close more than you ever dreamed of. It’s what the champions do and why they are the best.

    • Thanks for the comment, Pete. Interesting analogy! Not one that I would use, but it certainly gets the point across!


  2. I’m NOT a technical person but I “accidentally” ended up in software sales. Despite my weaknesses I ended up learning a lot about software and business processes and because I didn’t enjoy talking about real technical things I would do a lot of listening and asking them open ended questions. Because my questions were solid they realized even if I didn’t talk a lot about technical things I understood the value behind it I was able to be successful. So listening, asking the right questions and selling results instead of features can really work!

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