Starting Your First Day in a New Sales Job

Saleswoman at her desk wearing a headset on the first day of her new job.
Paul Bradbury/OJO Images/Getty Images

You've searched through job listings, survived the interview, and been hired as a salesperson at a new company. Your next task is to survive your first day on the job. Whether this is your first sales job or your tenth, starting out on the right foot with your new company is critically important.

According to Fortune Magazine, 46% of new sales employees leave or are fired within 18 months – a daunting statistic. You can help minimize the risk of an early departure from your new job by starting off on the right foot.

Learn As Much As You Can

Even for an experienced salesperson, going to a new company involves learning many new things ranging from the product and sales cycle to the corporate culture, other team members, and more. So the first few days on the job are all about absorbing as much information as you can. Know what you're selling inside and out so that you can be a true advocate for your product.

Sitting back and waiting for your sales manager to spoon-feed you the necessary knowledge isn't good enough, as there's rarely a structured plan for training up new employees. Companies that put new hires through classes before they start may instruct trainees on basic sales skills and the compensation structure, but they rarely go beyond that point. Your first day with your new team is the best time to start digging for what you need to know. Taking the initiative will also help you impress your sales manager.

Learn the Issues and Goals

On your first day, try to spend a little time with your new manager and ask about core issues: where to get more information about the product and the company to use in your sales calls, what the sales priorities and goals are, the criteria management will use to judge your success, the manager's opinion of the current issues regarding the company and its products, etc.

Ask what training is available and how they would advise you to target your efforts in the first days and weeks to build a solid pipeline. Other important details you'll need to know include information on company software and databases, especially CRMs; the phone system and its nuances; other office equipment such as copy machines and postage meters; and your teammates' usual schedules.

Ask Questions and Listen

Different companies can have very different ways of doing business. Actions and attitudes that brought you success with your old sales team may quickly get you into hot water with your new one.

Until you've had time to pick up the team's nuances, treat your fellow salespeople as you'd treat a prospect: listen more than you talk, make eye contact and be aware of body language (yours and theirs), look for common areas to help you build rapport, and so on.

Your new coworkers can be a great source of information and support if they like you - or a barrier to your success if they don't. But make your initial contacts brief unless you're talking to someone who is assigned to train you. You don't want to take up too much of their time when there's work to be done.

Dress the Part of a New Salesperson

Your interview was probably your first face-to-face encounter with your future manager and possibly your co-workers, but it's not necessarily the best time to determine the company's everyday dress code because interviewers will often dress somewhat more formally than they do on a day-to-day basis.

Your first day is a good opportunity to see how your co-workers usually dress for the job. In some organizations, casual is the byword; in others, conservative suits are expected. For men, acceptable hair cuts and facial hair vary from company to company, and from industry to industry.

For women, skirt lengths, makeup styles, and even bare legs vs. pantyhose can determine whether you'll fit in and how you'll be judged. Keep in mind that in some companies, the salespeople dress most days casually but haul out a suit and tie on days when they'll be meeting customers or prospects. When in doubt, ask your sales manager or a friendly salesperson. Sometimes, there will be a formalized dress code or even a uniform spelled out by the company policy.