So you landed a new sales job – you’re probably as nervous as you are excited! How will you be onboarded? What will your boss be like? Do they have all the tools in place?!
Every new job is a big leap! Celebrate your success so far, and don’t let anxiousness about your new role hold you back.
You’re probably wondering if you’ll like the job. Will you get along with your new team? Can you live up to the standards you set for yourself while interviewing?
Transitioning into a sales career can be daunting. But many companies—especially smaller tech startups—will then hit you with an onboarding process that’s fast and furious:
One moment you’re brand-new and introducing yourself to your new colleagues. The next moment, you’re in the field trying to close leads. And then you might turn around and get asked to actually lead a training session, or demo a product that you only got access to a few hours ago.
Add to this that many companies are now onboarding staff remotely for the first time. They’re still trying to work through their own problems.
It’s easy and natural to feel overwhelmed. But try not to let it get to you!
Remember that it’s a new job for you, a new face for your new colleagues, and a new person to consider for your manager and employer. Everyone is doing what they can to get by. You’re not alone.
The trick to succeeding in this type of onboarding environment is to take advantage of the resources you’re given, leverage the training and experience that you already have, and then go out and find the missing pieces.
1. Learn From What You’re Given
Your new employer has information available somewhere. You might be given a paper manual, access to a private wiki, a digital playbook, or a link to a public support desk.
Maybe you’ll be dropped into a new Slack workspace.
Or maybe you’ll just be given a phone number for someone who can help.
No matter what form it takes, scan through the onboarding resources and background information you’ve been given. Dig in deep to the important and interesting parts. Make notes about what you’ll need to come back to later, and what information is out-of-date. Organize your mind.
When you run out of direct onboarding instructions to follow, you can fall back on these information stores to accelerate your learning, and take on projects to fill the gaps, so that your first few days of independent work look and feel productive—even though you probably won’t be closing deals right away.
Remote Tip: No one is looking over your shoulder. But don’t use that as an excuse to sit around doing nothing! The habits you form—and the hunger you show—during your first few days on the job will stick with you for the rest of your time at the company.
2. Set Your Own Onboarding Goals
Take the company goals you learned about in the hiring process, and use them to set your own smaller goals and objectives.
These tasks will help you feel motivated and allow you to celebrate small successes. But they’ll also make sure that your priorities are aligned with those of the business, and give you accomplishments to point to during your first performance review.
Remote Tip: Remote work is full of distractions—It’s sometimes just as much effort to keep focused on working as it is to actually do the work. So break your day out into smaller chunks, and give yourself a goal or task for each one of them.
3. Build On and Benefit From Your Connections
It might feel like everyone’s a stranger, but that’s not true. Someone interviewed you. Someone made the decision to hire you. Someone is your new supervisor. Someone runs your department. Someone has been asked to help train you.
These people are your allies. Use them to your advantage!
You can do more than just ask questions and get answers. See if you can shadow someone in a similar job role for a few hours. Look for mentorship opportunities. Leverage the connections and network that you’ve built outside of the company to get feedback about your approach.
Remote Tip: Your opportunities for direct face-to-face interactions are going to be limited. So create them yourself. Instead of sending an email or a DM, ask for a quick Zoom chat. You’ll be able to get instant feedback, clear up ambiguities, and probably even get more honest answers, which people might otherwise hesitate to put into writing.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
There’s no substitute for experience. So although it may be comforting to spend all of your time going through training materials and documents, you need to get your hands dirty. You need to jump in with both feet. You need to run the demos, make the lists, write the assets, and pick up the phones.
Are multiple people starting the same role on the same day? If so, you have an instant network. Take on a leadership role, connect with these people, and establish times to talk and to practice together.
Remote Tip: When you’re working from home, your co-workers can’t hear you talking to yourself. Record your practice sessions, then watch and share the recordings to improve your performance.
5. Onboarding Yourself
It might seem unnecessary to assign work to yourself right after accepting a job offer. But the more information you have about the role, the company, the product, and the industry niche, the better prepared you’ll be to make sales and earn commissions.
Don’t think of it as unpaid work: Think of it as starting to earn your commissions before your first day on the job.
Connect with your management or HR contacts to ask for any information they can pass along. Tell them you want to take the time to be prepared. Really insist on it. Show them that you’re hungry.
You probably won’t be expected to work the phones on your first day. But you will probably be given a target or quota to reach during your first 3 months. Doing your prep work in advance will give you that much more time and flexibility to make sure you don’t just hit the target, but knock it out of the park.
Remote Tip: When you’re earning a salary to work from home in a new job, you might start to feel like an imposter. Are you really qualified for this job? Do you deserve this income? The answer is yes, but doing this type of legwork in advance can help prevent this sort of unwanted negative feeling.
6. Create a Great Work Environment
Moving from an office to a remote role is a huge adjustment for anyone. And when you’re moving into a new job, the transition can feel even harder. So do what you can to make your workspace comfortable, whether you’re at home, in a co-working facility, parked in a coffeeshop, or operating out of a hotel:
Carve Out a Workspace
The best way to block out distractions and maintain productivity is to physically separate your working space from your living space. Even if you don’t have a separate room available, use a dedicated desk, or physically rearrange your space at every transition from living to working and back again. Avoid working from the couch!
Use a Calendar To Schedule Your Day
Planning makes the difference between a productive day and an unproductive one. This is especially true if you’re working as a remote salesperson because distractions are multiplied. If this is your first time working from home, don’t try to wing it—get organized!
Set and stick to a reasonable schedule. Plan your day before the day starts. Honor your commitments.
Think About Ergonomics
About half of your waking time is going to be spent working. So while you may be tempted to use the kitchen stool as your office chair, your back will hate you for it, and your productivity will tank.
When you work from home, you’re your own workplace health and safety officer. Eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, joint issues, and seasonal depression are all real risks. So get furnishings and build a working environment that supports your physical and mental health.
Get a sturdy but adjustable chair. Invest in accessories that encourage good posture. Make sure you have regular access to sunlight. Take breaks.
Invest in Tech
Technology is the backbone of remote work, so you don’t want yours to be shoddy or “just okay”—you want the best tech that your situation can allow.
Your employer will likely help with some of your needs, but not all of them. As a commissioned salesperson, and/or as a work-from-home employee, you may be entitled to tax deductions on your personal investments.
A fast and reliable internet connection will eliminate countless headaches. A reliable phone with unlimited minutes will prevent nasty surprises. A good camera, microphone, and lighting setup will make you look professional. And an online ecosystem of tools that help to automate your sales tasks can make all the difference.
If you initially struggle to adjust to working from home, or struggle to adjust to working in the midst of a global pandemic, that’s okay.
Forgive yourself, and learn from your mistakes.
Your job isn’t to be perfect all the time. Your job is to be reliable, be dependable, ask good questions, and solve more problems than you create.
You can do it!