How to be a Successful Software Sales Rep
Being a software sales rep can be a very exciting and lucrative career. The US economy is based on innovation and new technology, so the demand will always be high. Beyond that, CNBC recently reported that sales jobs are still in good supply because companies are focusing on hiring revenue-generating jobs. Essentially, sales jobs are always recession proof. That being said, being a good software sales rep will always be in demand and you will always have options, even in hard economic times.
Software sales jobs also offer opportunities to make a lot of money to anybody regardless of experience and education. Sales in general are meritocratic. That means regardless of experience or education, anyone who can get the job done can be successful. Sales jobs are one of the best jobs without a college degree.
In this article, I will give you tools on how to be a successful in software sales. If you are able to master these few things, you will be a successful.
The first step in being successful is to find the right software company. That’s right, the first step of success has nothing to do with you. In order to grow good crop, you have to have good soil and good weather. No matter how hard you work and no matter how good a farmer you are, if the soil and weather is bad, you won’t be able to grow good produce. In the same way, being a successful sales rep starts with finding good soil and good weather.
Good Soil – Good Software Company
If you want good soil to grow your sales success in, find a good software company. What does that mean? First, find a software company with a good product and an innovative technology. There are many software companies with not so good software. If that is the case, it will be difficult to sell. How can you find out? Well, do some research and see if you can find out if the software company is growing. If the software company is growing, that probably means they have a good product and have good management. Even if a software company is big but is not growing, it’s a sign that you might not want to work there.
Good Weather – Good Industry
Find a software company in a growing industry. If a company makes software for a declining industry, it will affect the sales of the software company. Go into a new and growing industry. Get in on the ground floor in innovation. Some good new and growing industries is in green technology and software as service industries. But make sure the software company is developing products and services with a felt need and demand already existing in the market. Don’t work for a software company that is developing a product for an anticipated market. Make sure the market is already there.
Find good soil and good weather. Find a company with good software and good management. Find a company in an industry that is growing. Without these two components, you will be fighting uphill.
The next thing you need to do is get over your fear of rejection. This is an area you will grow in, but you need to start the process. If you don’t grow in this area, you will not succeed. Here’s how you can get over your fear and reduce the emotional stress, strain and drain that can ensue.
Know and Believe in Your Product. This goes back to step 1, but you need to know and genuinely believe in your product if you are going to succeed. If you don’t honestly see the value and benefits of your product and how it’s better than your competitor, than you will never be able to get over the emotional uneasiness selling it. I don’t know if I could have stayed in the software companies that I’ve worked for if I didn’t genuinely believe in the product. Before I signed on to work as a software sales rep for a software company, I made sure I knew the product and the competitors to make sure I could sell it with passion and integrity.
Make It Impersonal Realize. that it’s not YOU they are rejecting, it is your software. If you genuinely believe in your product, than you can always go back to that conviction and let your fear and feelings of rejection go away. Remember, most people reject your software, not because it’s bad, but because they don’t really know how good it is. That’s your job is to make them realize how great your product is.
Believe the Best in People. When people reject you, there is a tendency to dislike, hate and rant against your prospects. There were many times I hung up the phone discouraged and even hurt when someone rejected my offering. Don’t give in to that or it will emotionally drain you over time and you won’t be able to sustain your tenure as a software sales rep. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and believe the best in them. I remember when I was a young sales rep working for a high tech software company. I called a prospect and he angrily hung up on me. Two weeks later, I was training someone on making cold calls, and decided I’d call this same prospect back as a training tool for my trainee. To my great surprise, he not only talked to me, but he ended up buying our software. When he angrily hung up on me, he didn’t know who I was, who I was with, what software I had. He was just having a bad day. It had nothing to do with me! Whenever someone rejects me, or I get tempted to have harsh feelings about them, I quiet myself and internally wish the best for them. I know, it sounds cheesy, but it works and I can make my next call happy, which makes a huge different in sales.
Becoming successful in any sales is a numbers game. Keep track of the numbers. It’ll also give you an idea of product demand and areas for growth. Below are some of the numbers that the best software sales reps keep track of.
Cold Calling Dials. Virtually all sales involve large amounts of cold calling. At the very least, cold calling is where you’ll most probably need to start. So, the first category you’ll want to track is your cold calling numbers. Let me give you an idea of the volume of cold calling that is typical and necessary in most software sales jobs. The max you’ll be capable of doing is probably 150 cold calling dials a day. I once worked at a software company where this was the minimum requirement. It’s possible, but it’s hard.
One of the best sales reps we had made around 75 dials a day. This included cold calling as well as follow up calls and etc. But don’t think if you’re starting out that this is sufficient. This guy had tons of sales experience and new how to maximize his efforts. The only way to do that is by making calls. So when a sales rep is starting out, he/she should make at least 100-150 cold calls a day. This is the best way to practice and get better. Once you’re good enough to just make 50-75 calls a day, you’ll still have a full day, but with more purposeful and quality calling. But again, you can’t get there overnight and you ONLY get there by making the calls. At my last software sales job, I made around 50 cold calls a day, but that’s because I was also doing presentations as well.
Cold calling is very important, and I can’t emphasize it enough. It’s hard, but if you can press through the initial emotional turmoil and hit your stride, this will lead to your success as a sales rep. Remember, sales is a numbers game. Even if you’re bad at sales, if you’re product is decent and the market is large, you should be able to get sales just by calling tons of people.
Number of Appointments Set and Kept. Many software companies have started doing webinars to do sales presentations of their software. It’s an easy and efficient way to get that initial exposure to a potential client and it’s a great way to get you started without having to learn a ton or be able to do a great job at presenting the software. Typically, the best sales rep or one of the executives will run these webinars. If this is how your company is set up, you should shoot to get about 4-5 appointments per day. With good follow up, about 50-75% of those you made appointments with will actually show up. That means for every 4-5 people you sign up for a webinar, you’ll get about 2-3 people actually show up.