It can be daunting and intimidating to start any new job, but that’s at least double for sales reps. Your expected ramp to fully productive is shorter, and your success or failure can often be measured in black-and-white terms.

Whether you’re early in your career or making a late-career change, there are several best practices that can accelerate your results & success. Here are a handful to consider.

Get to know the customer and industry
If you don’t directly & intimately know your customer and the world they live in, there’s little chance you’ll be able to align your products & services with what they really care about. Even if your new company doesn’t give you industry and customer training as part of your onboarding, seek it out for yourself. Read any and all case studies, industry profiles and more.

Ask lots of questions
Spread them around if you need to, so that your immediate cube mates don’t bear the brunt. But assume (despite your on boarding training) that you still don’t know nearly enough about the company, the sales process, the voicemail and email templates that work to drive higher response, etc. The more you ask, the more you’ll learn and the faster you’ll start selling above quota.

Shadow the great reps
It will quickly become apparent which reps are the best reps. Who regularly exceeds quota, and has innovated beyond what they’re been trained (combining hard work and instincts) to make more money than everyone else. Pepper them with questions, but more importantly shadow them. Watch what they do (and don’t do). You’ll need to adjust their best practices to what works for you, but learning and testing what makes them successful can be a significant accelerator.

Get in early, stay late
There are no shortcuts. Anywhere. Ever. Even if you ask good questions and shadow the great reps, you’ll still need to put in the work to succeed. And that includes putting in the time. Get in early, stay after five, put in more time and activity than anyone else. You won’t be able to sustain this, but it’s a great way to learn fast, succeed fast, and make a great early impression while you quickly put up the numbers typically expected of more experienced reps.

Treat marketing like your best friend
Too many companies have an adversarial relationship between sales & marketing. Even if this exists in your company, treat marketing as your secret weapon. Become the guy on the sales floor they ask to test new ideas, messages and campaigns. Ask them for more input and feedback on messages you’re using in the field. Give them your feedback on what’s working and not working based on your early but valuable/unique new perspective.

Read the masters
I know veteran sales reps who stopped reading and learning once they became successful. And unfortunately, that’s almost exactly when they lost their edge. The buyer is always evolving, the sales process is always changing, and you need to keep reading from the front lines to keep your edge. Here’s a summary of several bloggers, authors and other influencers I recommend following to keep your own edge.

Respect & follow the process
At the same time that I recommend you ask lots of questions and learn beyond what you’re taught in your onboarding, you absolutely must respect and follow the process taught by your new organization. There’s no faster way to get out of their good graces than to immediately ignore what they ask you to do. Once you master the process, you might have the credibility and political capital to question it or effect change. But not yet. For now, stick with the program.

Read what your customers read
Trade press. Newsletters. Blogs. Analysts. Subscribe to it all. Read it as if you are the customer. The more you do that, the more you’ll understand how your customers think, what they care about, what’s new in their world. Great to make you generally smarter, as well as tactically use as icebreakers with new calls.

Set realistic but aggressive goals for yourself
Your manager will have accelerating quotas for you to hit in your first few months, but those don’t need to be your goals. What does success look like for you? What are the leading indicators of success (calls, contacts, demos, etc.) that you’ll focus on to ensure you’re meeting and exceeding your early goals with the new organization?

Curious to hear what other advice reps & managers alike have for starting anew.