Stepping into Sales
Despite the extensive “pre-sales” preparation which lasted 2 months, including multiple field rides with experienced salespeople and their customers, things only come to a head when one is alone facing the customer. It was only then that I realized what I had signed up for and that no amount of theorizing customer interactions was ever going to prepare me for the real thing.
Strangely though, things weren’t that bad. Hilti Singapore was already well-established in the market and had a reputation of changing their salespeople fairly regularly. So when I went to visit customers for the first time, most of that introductory visit went along the lines of “Oh Hilti changed another sales rep? Ok sure give me your name card. Did you change your phone number or did you take the old guy’s one? Ok sure I’ll contact you in future.” Not the best start no doubt but minimally acceptable and contact was established with minimal hassle.
The next stage however, was to prove more challenging. Making contact with customers is one thing, but how was I to go about actually growing the business with them? I already had a list of projects that my customers were currently working on from my ASM, so the next thing I did was to start visiting all the jobsites.
Going onto jobsites on my own was a seriously eye-opening experience. The amount the activity going on all at once was mind-boggling and it was to take a while before I started to get comfortable being at a jobsite. Despite my initial apprehension, I was pleasantly surprised that workers on the jobsite immediately recognized Hilti. I never had difficulty getting information from them and they were always quick to update me on common issues on site as well. This provided me with useful information before any meeting with the site managers and enabled me to stay abreast of any developments without much effort.
Ultimately though, in order to grow the business, I needed to make sure that I delivered value to my customers. This was where being the premium brand in the market really shone through. Everyone knows that Hilti is at the forefront of technology innovation and performance. It was just for me to convince them that the Hilti premium over other brands was really the best deal. Again, the sales training provided, together with learning from more experienced salespeople helped me to close that gap rapidly and begin growing my sales territory.
Even as I write this, I’m preparing to handover my territory to another colleague and embark on the next stage. Whilst 1 year in sales seemed like a long time when I first started, it was really over in the blink of an eye and I’m already starting to miss some of my customers. Reflecting on how I’ve grown over the past year, sales really is a different beast altogether. Despite my initial struggles, thanks to the support from the team around me, it has been a memorable year, with new skills learnt that I believe can be applied across multiple roles.