Stumble. Fall. Get up. Repeat.

This is the way we learn valuable lessons in life. A career in sales is no different. My sales career has spanned the pre-internet era to present day. Change is constant. Increased transparency has brought sunlight to the buyer-seller relationship. Knowledge, creativity, and collaborative skills are in demand.

To my friends, clients, professional peers, college graduates, and people transitioning in their career I offer this advice about the sales profession;

  1. The best sales jobs are the ones that have high quality people in sales management positions. Let’s discuss what you should look for when considering a position in sales, customer service or a call center.
  2. If the most attractive part of a new sales job offer is the income potential, you are using the wrong metric. People, purpose, professional development, and culture must be factored in.
  3. If you have gone more than six months without sales training, you are falling behind. As a key cog in our intellectual economy you must be better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Sales is an honorable profession when standards are maintained…and elevated.
  4. Read 3 sales books every year. I have a list. Let’s discuss.
  5. Build a memorable brand value proposition. Start with a version Michael Port uses in Book Yourself Solid: I help X do Y so that they can Z (example: I help lawyers learn business development skills so that they can become partners in their law firm).
  6. Start a mastermind group. Your first layer of support is the management of your organization. The second is a group of professional peers who will act as your eyes and ears in your market. Contact me about the Business to Business Roundtable.
  7. Ask questions first. Don’t talk too much. Your ability to discover will lead to more sales than the latest closing techniques. Think like a doctor. Pain identification first. Remedy later.
  8. Be generous. Share “gifts” that have value with your prospects without giving away the store. Gifts include articles, whitepapers, blog posts and eBooks demonstrating your expertise. Lay the foundation for a generous relationship.
  9. Sell like you don’t need the business. You can relax while being focused and disciplined. Stressed salespeople are mistake prone and look desperate.
  10. Understand the prospect’s point of view. Connect your solution with the problem they are experiencing. If you don’t see things from their perspective, you are not in sales.
  11. Objections can be overcome. This is an opportunity to re-engage and determine why the prospect doesn’t see value.
  12. Build trust. Make yourself attractive to do business with by being timely, courteous and competent. Therefore, no selling when building rapport.
  13. Prepare. When entering a meeting have an upfront contract.
  14. Just say no. Everyone cannot be your customerWork with customers who respect you, inspire you, and pay you based on your value. Ditch the rest.
  15. Learn your strengths and lead with them. Every salesperson should have an attributes profile. Get yours here.
  16. Losing business because of price is a red flag. Here are some ideas on dealing with this.
  17. We are all in sales now. Regardless of your title you are in salesYour company needs you to be a brand ambassador, problem solver, influencer, initiator and so much more. Welcome to the sales profession!

Please comment on my advice and be willing to share yours. Your viewpoint is appreciated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Michael

 
Two things in my DNA lead to a career in sales. My curiosity and my love of building relationships with quality people.

I believe the best sales organizations invest in the development of their people. You improve the sales process when you improve the people involved. I have seen firsthand sales organizations that did not believe in the professional and personal growth of their people. The result? Friction, confusion and underperformance.

Consistent sales growth is one of many challenges a business faces. In my role as a consultant I have the opportunity to dig deeper to uncover issues related to strategy, communication, and professional development.

To quote Daniel Pink; "we are all in sales now." My promise to you is to develop the people in your organization who serve your customers. It's no longer just the Sales Department. Your sales strategy must be crystal clear, and communicated respectfully throughout your entire organization.

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