The Role of the Sales Representative
While people sometimes think of a sales representative, or sales rep, as a clerk in a retail capacity, the term means something very different in technology sales. If you work in a technology company and someone mentions a sales rep, they’re talking about a salesperson in a prospect or customer-facing capacity. That includes sales development representatives (SDRs) and Account Executives (AEs), among others.
Whatever their title, a sales rep is the front-line salesperson responsible for executing the sales strategy set by their sales management. The way they do this varies by their specific role and the target of their sales quota. For example, SDRs qualify sales leads, which they then turn over to more experienced AEs. AEs are tasked with meeting with qualified leads (whether virtually or in-person), introducing them to the product or service they’re selling, and shepherding the deal to a close. As a result, quota for SDRs typically involves a set goal of qualified meetings, whereas quota for AEs involves generating a specific amount of sales revenue, or selling a specific amount of product.
Advancing as a Salesperson
Most ambitious sales professionals eventually want to either move up from the level of sales rep and into sales management, or start closing larger deals. That means operating at the level of the job above you – not just the one you already have. Find a top performer that is already working at the level you want who can act as a mentor and model yourself on their behavior. Chances are that if you can do what they do you’ll have a much easier time getting to their level. In addition, having a mentor means having someone who is vested in your success and can sing your praises internally.
However, no matter what you do, you’ll never have a chance to advance if you aren’t consistently meeting and exceeding your quota. While rewarding, sales can be a challenging career path. In order to be successful as a sales rep you’ll need clear, measurable goals to work towards. The most important of those is hitting quota, but beyond that ask yourself what your mentor does. How many calls does she make? How quick is she to get back to prospects? Try working towards the same numbers.
Measuring Your Progress as a Sales Rep
Once you’ve established clear goals in conjunction with your mentor and manager you need to track your progress. That’s where good sales analytics come in. Companies such as People.ai offer software that allows you to track your sales activities and see how they compare to your goals. Even if you lack the budget for sales software you can still do some basic tracking in Excel or Google Sheets. You don’t have to completely change the way you operate overnight, but if you start improving your activity metrics step-by-step you’re guaranteed to start seeing results.
Good sales analytics tools will be invaluable as you work to improve because they tell you not only what activities to focus on, but when to take a specific action. For example, it may be the case that following up with an email after a call measurably increases your prospect’s rate of getting back to you. Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – learn what works from your mentors and managers and run with it!