Sales tips from our experts judging at Bryant University competition
Bryant University hosts the sixth annual Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition (NISC) on November 10–11, 2017. This tournament-style competition gives students an opportunity to network and hone skills necessary to succeed as a sales professional. Sponsors of the event, such as Vistaprint Corporate, are sending employees to serve as judges or actors in the tournament’s role-play and speed-sell competitions. Students will be evaluated more on technique rather than the outcome of the fictional situations they are presented. In other words, if students don’t close a deal in their round, that’s OK. There’s far more to sales than just selling. Competing students will hopefully set up a follow-up meeting, for instance, or provide value to the customer in some other way.
We spoke with managers from our Inside Sales Team to gather sales tips and offer our insights to aspiring sales professionals and the business community at large. Our Inside Sales Team is composed of Business Development Representatives (BDRs) who are tasked with introducing companies to the innovative solution that Vistaprint Corporate provides. BDRs become experts at familiarizing people with the benefits of having a custom print portal. Like all sales professionals, the biggest challenge BDRs face is getting in time with prospects and keeping them interested in the pitch.
Here is the wisdom we collected from our sales managers, edited for clarity and brevity:
About our sales managers
Senior Manager of Inside Sales
Chris has over ten years of sales experience. Prior to joining Vistaprint Corporate in 2017, Chris worked in the Wayfair B2B program starting out as one of the original Account Managers. He now oversees the Commercial and Midmarket Business Development teams at Vistaprint Corporate; these teams focus on acquiring and onboarding new business accounts.
Inside Sales Supervisor
Jeff joined Vistaprint Corporate in 2017 and oversees a team of 16 BDRs, training and mentoring them on sales calls. Jeff brings 8 years sales experience from the technology sector to his role.
Alrico (Rico) Tungol
Inside Sales Supervisor*
Rico had been a business owner for 8 years before joining Vistaprint in 2012. A year after Vistaprint Corporate was established in 2015, Rico started as a BDR and was promoted to supervisor in 2017.
Advice for starting out in sales
Chris: One of the key things about getting into a sales career is really do a self-assessment and ensure it’s what you want to do. The beauty of a sales career is that there’s a strong correlation between what you put in and what you get out. For the most part, the harder you work, the more you make.
Jeff: There’s going to be a lot of opportunities to learn and grow within a company as long as you’re willing to be coachable and agile with changing business needs. Obviously, a willingness to learn goes along with it. Combine all that with a good work ethic and time management skills, and you should be very successful right from the start.
Rico: To succeed, learn your product, for sure. Also, have an open mind and try the changes in direction given to you. In sales, there are a lot of requests that bring changes day-to-day, week-to-week, monthly, and quarterly.
What the best performers of a sales competition (and business) do
Jeff: The top performers will be the ones who can combine being well-prepared with having done research and demonstrating the most confidence, while also directly relating to the prospects that they’re selling to.
Rico: A good salesperson won’t be overtaking the conversation. They’ll let the customer do all the talking and just listen and obviously give them suggestions and feedback on what they’ve heard.
Best part of working in sales
Chris: The best part of having a sales job is landing the customer. Chasing the win, so to speak. It’s about putting in a lot of work and seeing the fruits of your labor as customers begin to convert. Individuals driven by more tangible or concrete goals typically do well in sales.
Rico: I really like being able to interact with customers and try to have a solution for them. And I like working in a team environment. You have your own goals, sure. But you also have team goals, and I like the fact that you’re contributing to that team goal.
Toughest part of working in sales and overcoming it
Chris: One of the toughest things about working in sales is the fail rate. You have to have a short memory and be willing to move on to the next one. The analogy that’s typically given is batting averages in baseball, where some of the best hitters in the league hit around .300. In reality, that means you failed 7 times out of 10. You have to keep moving forward.
Jeff: The most difficult part is figuring out whether that customer is somebody you should be selling to or somebody that is OK to let go. You’re not going to sell to everyone that you get on the phone or meet in person. You want to make sure that you’re putting in your time with the people who are going to spend money with you and be a good long-term customer.
How to get better at selling
Jeff: The best way to get good at sales is to not be afraid to pick up the phone. The more calls you make, the better you’re going to get at it. When I first started, one of the first cold calls I ever made was one of the worst phone calls I ever had. You just feel like you don’t know what to say at that point. You get a little nervous. Practice makes perfect.
Rico: Know your weaknesses and always be evaluating yourself. Surround yourself with that person who never misses a call with a client, or whose revenue is off the charts every single month. Ask, “What is she doing? What are the questions she’s asking business partners that I can pick from, that I can learn from?”
How to build strong relationships with clients
Chris: Build successful relationships by caring about the customer’s needs. You don’t get to the stage of a business relationship until you actually understand what’s important or what’s painful to the customer. You need to spend time getting to know the person that you’re going to be working with from a client-vendor standpoint.
Jeff: You need to communicate clearly, especially in the beginning when you set up timelines so that the customer knows what to expect as you bring them through the process of the sale. It’s much easier once you’re both on the same page from the get-go.
Rico: Following up in a timely manner is very important. Your time management is very, very important, especially to build that trust with customers. You don’t want customers having to call you 10 times before you respond to them, or e-mail you 10 times more. All customers are looking for is an acknowledgement.
Best part of sales at Vistaprint Corporate
Chris: It’s the opportunity. We have a good product, a good platform, and I really believe that what we sell actually does a lot of good for businesses. It helps streamline operations from a print needs standpoint. I think we have a good opportunity to keep a large percentage of the market.
Jeff: Hands down the people are the best thing about working here. I’m happy when I come into work every day. I enjoy interacting with everyone, whether it’s in the Providence office with me, or whatever other office location I might be dealing with that day. And the company culture is amazing and makes a fun, happy, and exciting place to be every day.
Rico: There’s room to grow. You can go lateral, go up, or a different department if you want to. Other things are good, but it’s really the people I like working with.
For more information about this event, click here
*At the time of publication, Alrico Tungol was signed up to be a judge at the NISC competition. Due to a scheduling conflict, another sales manager will fill his seat at the competition.