7 Keys to Being a Successful Manufacturing Sales Rep

You’ll commonly hear people say, “I’ll do anything but sales” or “I hate selling.” But why do people say this so often? Is it because you can’t make good money in sales? Certainly not! In most cases, it’s because they don’t understand what it takes to be successful when it comes to sales in manufacturing industries.

As a sales rep in the manufacturing industry, you face a number of challenges. Some of them are industry-specific (especially when it comes to selling obscure and highly technical products) while others are general struggles that all salespeople deal with on a daily basis.
While every company has to deal with its own unique limitations and constraints, you can find success by honing your skills and focusing on the following keys:

1. Don’t Take it Personal

Rejection is a huge aspect of sales. It’s part of the reason some salespeople only last a few months or years before transferring to another position. And since rejection is always going to be a part of any sales position – whether you’ve been doing it for three months or three years – you must learn to accept the fact that rejection is not personal.

“We’re told this personal rejection is the bad part of sales. It makes me laugh,” sales consultant Tom Black quips. “How could it be personal? The prospects don’t know you. They are refusing your offers to sell, not you.” When you look at it through this lens, it’s easy to see that sales rejection isn’t personal. However, when you’re in the moment, a stiff “no” can seem like an attack on your character.

Look at rejection as refinement. Any time you get rejected from a prospect, there is a lesson to learn. Over time, these lessons will diminish your chances of being rejected, but they’ll never completely remove denial as a possible outcome.

2. Value Relationships Over Call Volume

As a manufacturing sales rep, there’s an urge to contact as many prospects as possible in order to increase your chances of closing a deal or pushing a potential customer further through the sales funnel. Resist this urge.

If there’s one thing more important than call volume, it’s individual relationships. Your time would be better spent talking with one prospect for 30 minutes than calling four prospects over the same period of time. While it can be challenging for a new sales rep to grasp, long-term relationships are much more profitable than quick sales. As the old adage goes, quality is better than quantity.

3. Carefully Research Buyer Personas

Successful manufacturing sales reps set and stick to ideal buyer personas. These personas allow them to effectively target high returning prospects, as opposed to falling back on inefficient spray-and-pray tactics.

“The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.),” says Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot. “Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20.”

Some sales reps even create negative personas. These are prospects that you absolutely don’t want in a customer. Understanding what these prospects look like can save you tons of time.

4. Be Proactive

As a sales rep, you’re rarely – if ever – going to have someone contact you. The onus is always on you to take action and pursue your goals. Being proactive is your number one priority when establishing relationships with prospects.

But being proactive doesn’t just have to do with making phone calls and setting up meetings. In the manufacturing industry, it’s imperative that you’re proactive in the way you address pain points and overcome friction in the sales process.

If a prospect has concerns, are you sitting back and hoping they figure it out, or are you taking action to understand why they feel the way they do? Always anticipate issues and take care of them before they hurt your chances of closing a sale.

5. Maintain a Positive Attitude

As mentioned, rejection is a huge part of sales. Not only do you have to be willing to tackle rejection head-on, but it’s important that you maintain a positive attitude in every situation. This doesn’t mean you’re happy about losing a sale, but you certainly shouldn’t let negative feelings drag you down and affect your next sale. Focus on the successes you’ve had in your career and remember that you can always choose to be positive.

6. Invest in Training

Training is very important in sales. Since new techniques and tools are always popping up, it’s important that you stay relevant. There are lots of online training solutions, as well as formal classes, degrees, and programs that can help. Don’t overlook these opportunities to grow. Successful sales reps see learning as an ongoing investment.

7. Use the Right Tools

One of the best things about being a sales rep in 2016 versus being a salesperson in, say, 1976, is that you have access to a plethora of tools that make selling exponentially easier. But in order for these solutions to benefit you, they must be leveraged.

Are you identifying and implementing the right tools? Admitting your shortcomings and using resources to supplement these weak spots is the mark of a successful sales rep. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to do what it takes to find these tools.

Try iQuoteXpress Today

At iQuoteXpress, we specialize in providing businesses and salespeople with advanced proposal software that’s designed to enhance productivity and streamline the quotation process. Our proprietary CPQ software technology is widely considered one of the top solutions in the industry and we highly encourage your team to give it a try.

If you’re interested in a free no-obligation demo of iQuoteXpress, then please contact us today. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have and show you exactly why countless other companies and manufacturing sales reps turn to us to simplify their sales quoting and selling!

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