If you are considering an outside sales position and want to learn more about the sales job opportunity, ask to do a ride-along with a current successful sales rep on the sales team.
A ride along or field visit is spending a day shadowing a field sales rep for a day or two. This is a perfect way for you to actually see what you will be doing on a day to day basis as well as ask the current rep questions about the position during the day.
As you visit customers, you can also observe the challenges that you will face as well as the successes you will gain from taking the sales position. The worst case scenario in accepting a job based upon assumptions is that you will waste a lot of time in looking for another opportunity.
The best way to prepare for a ride-along is to have a lot of questions ready to ask. Be on your best behavior and remember that you will be evaluated and a report will be given to the hiring sales manager. The goal is to learn as much as you can about the sales position you are considering taking, and to observe first hand, a day in the life of the role you are interviewing for.
During the time you spend with the sales professional, you are also building a possible connection and network if you decide to take on the role. Remember to follow up and thank the person who took you around. The person might also be a champion for you and if you can influence and convince the sales team member to give you a recommendation, then think of this as an added bonus.
Be sure to ask if you can do this during the sales interview if you are hesitant about accepting the position. Trust me, as a hiring sales manager, I would much rather let the candidate learn what they are getting into versus finding out 2 months later, and causing disruption with my team to reach sales goals. As a sales manager, I then need to start all over again with the recruitment process. You might not be allowed all the time to be able to do a ride-along, but ask and you just might get the chance to get a glimpse of a real world example of what you might be doing.
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