Day in the Life of a Sales Rep
The only people who ever asked me what I did all day when I was a rep were prospective candidates I helped interview. Our management never really asked me how I was spending my days, likely cause I was hitting my number, and that was both wonderful and terrifying.
The life of a sales rep can give you the most freedom, arguably of any career, both financial freedom and freedom as to how you spend your time. Growing up in a house where my dad built his career in sales, I witnessed the power of this freedom first hand. He was always able to make the silly milestone events important to me and my brother, and he always acted like he was semi-retired from my perspective, yet we somehow kept up a similar lifestyle as my friends whose parents were doctors and lawyers.
When you can manage your time effectively without wasting the freedom afforded to a career in sales, the financial gains can be significant, but there is also always the risk that it all goes away in the blink of an eye with a couple of complacent months.
When I was a sales rep I “worked” long days, but it never felt like much work because I split up my day into 3 segments and bucketed them in my mind as “Reactive” and “Proactive” time.
6AM-10AM- Reactive time, meaning I’m online and responsive but I’m not taking on anything new, just reacting to or fixing something that is already in progress. I’m getting my day started and so I’m still easily distracted by other things in my morning routine as I prepare what I need to do for the day. I usually send some emails from home and maybe take a few early calls, and with a 30 minute commute I’m at the office by 9:30/10. I focus these hours on the most pressing things that happened while I was offline the night before and therefore I’m only really working in a “reactive” way dealing with anything pressing that needs clarification or attention swiftly, plus any general research or industry news. I subscribe to about 10 different news sources for daily funding alerts, M&A activity in the tech space, and specific lists or google alerts for top customers, prospects, and competitors.
10AM-6PM- Proactive time, this is where the bulk of my scheduled meetings take place and most client facing “work” gets done. As a rep I was onsite with clients 3-4 times a week sometimes 3-4 times a day towards the end of the quarter. If I don’t have a lunch appointment I usually eat at my desk so I can send prospecting emails or catch up on anything I missed while onsite with a client. If it’s a busy week I’ve set up back to back calls for myself during most this block.
6PM-10PM- This is reactive time again. I sometimes stay at the office till 6-7 to wrap things up and I go to 2-3 networking events per week after work. I’ll usually check emails every half hour or so after I leave the office if I have evening events to make sure nothing requires immediate attention and I can react quickly. Especially with our HQ on the west coast and many partners and execs working on Pacific Time I’m typically online till 10PM or later. “Reactive time” in the evening if I don’t have events to attend is also often a good time to catch up on researching potential prospects and thinking through deal reviews or general industry trends and research (reading or blogging …)
As I mentioned above 3-4 days a week I was typically onsite with a client so I’d try to work from home once a week or every other week so I could devote a larger consecutive chunk of uninterrupted time to solid prospecting to get into the zone and find new target accounts, craft better messaging, and think of random marketing ideas like the PUB CRAWL @NetSuite is hosting June 10 with TUGG in Boston!
I recently had a recruiter on LinkedIn send me a job posting that said: “This company features excellent benefits along with the perks of NO cold calling and a reliable leave-time daily.” This seemed like a very strange set of perks in my opinion for a sales role.
I would be suspicious of any job that touts they don’t have any cold calling. They might call it something else, (we call it prospecting) but it’s basically cold calling. The idea of cold calling isn’t bad, in fact if you’re on my team it can even be fun- and if you’re not doing it you’re not going to over achieve your number. Period.
And a “reliable leave-time daily”? I had never seen that before for a sales job, and personally I would never hire someone for sales that valued a “reliable leave-time daily.” The reason sales people get paid the big bucks is because there is no time card to punch, we aren’t paid on a 40 hour week where if you accomplish a lot, or nothing at all, you take home the same pay check every week. The unfair yet completely egalitarian beauty of sales if you’re up for it, is that you get out of it what you put in. That means if you “work” crazy hours, or by actually incorporating the culture of your profession into your daily life as blue printed above, you can make more than your friends who went to school for a decade longer with mountains of debt entering still competitive markets with no greater job security.