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How to Build Confidence When Starting Your Sales Rep Career

You are ready for a new challenge. You feel great going in. But take it from this eyecare pro: Expertise in the field takes time.




How to Build Confidence When Starting Your Sales Rep Career

(Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in ROWT Magazine titled: “Look Who’s Confident Now.”)

So you have decided to take on a new job as a sales representative. You feel you were meant for this life! It looks very exciting, filled with travel and tons of flexibility. You just know you are going to kill it at this job.

This was me 11 years ago. I was brimming with ego. I had never worked in wholesale sales like this. I had no doubt that I would automatically be good at it.

News flash: I wasn’t.

It’s not as though I was outright bad at it. I am a friendly, capable woman who can follow instructions and hand out information. I just wasn’t the super-rep I thought I would be from the start. It shook my confidence. It took time, experience, and great mentors to build myself back to a place of tenacity and assurance.

Just like any new skill, few people are automatically adept at sales. Save for a few outliers and savants, the rest of us non-geniuses need to work to shape a personal guideline for success. Let me help you formulate your framework and build your rep confidence with some acumen I have gathered along the way.


Dress for Success

It seems obvious that you need to dress nice as a rep, be clean and smell good, or at the very least, not smell bad. But there is actual science behind this. Your customers will feel different about you depending on how you dress.

If you look good, you feel good. In turn, your accounts will feel much more confident in you and the information you are trying to impart. Remember, it’s always the guy in the wrinkly untucked shirt that gets eaten first by the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park movies. So press your slacks and get out the lint roller so that pterodactyl (or OD) doesn’t take you out.

Know Your Stuff

Please don’t play power-point karaoke. Definition: when you kind of know the stuff so you use a premade power point and just follow along the words without knowing the information. This does not build confidence.

The more you know about the products or concepts you are trying to sell, the more naturally and confidently you will be able to speak to the benefits. Many reps get caught in the “features” trap. They can read off a list of what the product can do, but then fail to explain why the product will benefit their potential customer. The more intimately you understand what you are presenting, the more scrupulous you can be.

Basically, you need to light them on fire with your knowledge! (Figuratively speaking, of course, not literally.) You can benefit their business so show them how.

You can benefit their business so show them how


Be Something They Want

The only way you can be what they want is to ask.

A big mistake I made as a rookie rep was to assume I knew what my accounts wanted. You never will be able to predict the wants and needs of each individual office, so you will need to specifically ask. Get out a note pad, ask tons of questions, write it all down, and figure out where you fit in.

Time to dig deep and really listen to what their values are and sort out where your products support those values. Don’t offer a solution to a problem they don’t have. It’s tacky and terrible to be offered something you don’t want. Case in point: no one appreciates being offered French fries when they’re really craving a plate of nachos. I don’t care how hot and delicious those fries might be, give me my chips and cheese!

Get Organized

The personality type of many a sales rep is not, shall we say, known for being highly organized. We are a travelling troop of free spirits. We are go-with-the-flow-ers. We like to navigate by feel.

This part might prove hard at first. And it might not be that fun. But I promise you that having a bit of structure will improve your sales self-esteem. Start by making a schedule.

A friend once said to me that in any relationship there is a kite and a kite flyer. That stuck with me. In this circumstance, you are in a relationship with your rep job. You are the kite, and your schedule is the kite flyer. Having some organization to keep you grounded helps you spread your rep-wings.


Find Joy

You will pour your whole self into this job. You will be immersed and entangled, and you can wind your worth into the fibers of the work. Your dedication is admirable, and you will present with your heart and your accounts will feel your passion. It’s so memorable to have an inspired rep! Live in these moments, feel that high, and know that you cannot be everything to everyone.

Try not to let the upsets and no-so good moments tear you down. It can feel very soul crushing when your territory is going sideways, or people are mad. You are going to have to learn to let those moments that go. Take a walk. Have a cry. Pet your dog. Hug someone you love. Sooth yourself and hit reset. It is important to own your own mess ups, but don’t dwell.

And if it’s not your mistake and things are still going sideways, take credit for the good stuff. As for the bad stuff, just be like Elsa and “let it go.”

Final Thought

My take home message is that you reps are a special sort of people. Don’t let this job crush your spirit. Instead let it build you up! Build your confidence and your sales will grow, I promise.

I have had the distinct pleasure of working with amazing accounts and mentors, my confidence is soaring due to insight and influence, and I keep my heart and mind open so it just keeps getting better. I am killing it at this job! (And you can, too.)



How to Build Confidence When Starting Your Sales Rep CareerDayle Whitecross is a Practice Development Specialist at Neurolens.

She previously worked as a sales rep for nearly seven years at Centennial Optical Limited. More recently, she was a business consultant with Essilor Canada.

Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn.






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