Are you a sales professional or do you have a job selling? I distinguish between the two by your level of commitment to your career and whether you have a plan to achieve sales greatness and build your own brand. Salespeople that commit time outside of their responsibilities at work on skill development, build their network, add value in their industry and community, and pursue continuous learning are sales professionals.
Many sales positions now require that you have a university education and in many cases an honors or graduate degree is preferred. This criterion is much less important than your commitment to your career and the sales profession after graduating. Another name for graduation is commencement which means beginning; this applies to sales more than any other profession. After all, in post-secondary academia what courses teach you about sales and prepare you for the challenges, mind set, and skills you need to become a consistent top performer in your industry? To be great in any profession requires a commitment to continuous education and on-going learning and this is most evident in sales; it’s the hardest profession to be great at and the easiest position to get by in.
Natural ability and talent can get you by and give you the illusion you’ve got what it takes without much long-term consideration given to your career. Don’t let your ego get in the way of looking objectively at how you stack up. Take stock of where you are and where you want to be, build on your strengths, have a plan and develop habits that take you to a level of performance that only one in twenty achieve. Your career plan is a responsibility that you cannot delegate; having your own vision, purpose and plan is your highest priority. By recognizing this truth and embracing responsibility to manage oneself you build self-esteem and your potential in the world becomes limitless.
Here are the 5 pillars on which you build an exciting and highly rewarding career in sales.
Vision & Mission
We must all be leaders when it comes to our sales careers and having a vision precedes all great achievements. A vision gives you something to strive for, keeps you motivated and provides you with the desired end-state on which your goals are based.
Take a moment to reflect and imagine doing what you deeply desire. What type of environment are you in, where are you, how do you feel, who are you with, what skills are you using, what strengths are you leveraging, what are you recognized for and what are people saying about you? Having a vision is the sustenance upon which all great journeys are based and your career is all about the journey towards achieving that vision.
Mission states your purpose, gives meaning to why your career exists and is based on your core values. Your mission is the rudder on which you will base decisions and conduct yourself; it’s your personal code and should be in alignment with your company’s mission.
Career Plan & Goals
Setting goals to achieve your desired end-state and committing to examine and update them is where most salespeople fail. How many of you reading this article will take the time to write out your vision and mission and then build a career plan? It takes a great deal of character to embrace the responsibility and have persistence and discipline to build a career plan and set goals. Goal setting is the only way to motivate yourself and translate your vision into action; without having goals you’re just dreaming. Goal setting is proven to increase personal productivity; have written goals that are both short-term and long-term.
One of the key areas where sales professionals invest is continuous learning. In this category I include reading, listening to CD’s, attending seminars and workshops, taking courses and asking for feedback from your supervisor and peers. By refreshing and updating your knowledge a positive stream of information is feeding your consciousness which in turn soaks into your sub consciousness. You will become more aware of what motivates people, how to create great sales organizations, what to look for when evaluating career opportunities, and best practices in the areas of sales processes and techniques.
Learning and understanding should never stop and always precede action; if you’re not continually hungry for ways to improve you become stale and outdated in your approach. How many reps and managers have you seen carry-on with their same old habits, have lost their sense of creativity and no longer provide a stimulating and exciting presence in your environment? Are you one of them? I encourage you commit to continuous learning and open your mind. Through opening your mind you will recognize your own areas of improvement and more importantly bring inspiration into your workplace which always results in more opportunity and income.
On average a salesperson changes jobs every 3 ½ years but your own career lasts a life-time. By building your own brand in the market you become a consistent and driving force as opposed to being dependent upon the company you just happen to be representing today. Taking a leadership position of your own brand gives you a sense of control and power; it means you’ll always be in demand because you’ve demonstrated the ability to build strong customer relationships and provide value. Your personal brand is your biggest asset in the market. Continue adding to your brand value by joining organizations and associations, speak in public, write newsletters, contribute to trade journals or ezines, attend tradeshows and conventions and go to networking events regularly. Considering salespeople are often generalized as being gregarious my experience has been that most attend work related events but rarely think about what they should be doing to add value to themselves thus enhancing their worth in the market.
High performing salespeople have a positive mental attitude and high sense of self-esteem. They are in the habit of feeding their subconscious mind positive thoughts and never dwell on the negatives. If a large sale is lost learn from the experience; if you are rejected remind yourself that it is not personal and quickly dismiss the negative aspect from your mind. Do not let fear stop you and self-doubt creep into your mind. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.” Always act with enthusiasm and by doing so you will feel enthusiastic. It is a psychological fact that by having positive thoughts and acting with enthusiasm and confidence you will actually feel more self-esteem and be in a position to develop better relationships and deliver higher sales. Surround yourself with high-achievers and positive thinkers and distance your-self from negativity and salespeople who are full of reasons and excuses for not succeeding. How you feel on the inside will be how you show on the outside so always pay attention to the thoughts and actions that are creating your mindset.
The selling profession offers you limitless potential if you commit to a life-time of self-reflection, improvement and positive action. Have a plan based on your own personal vision and always continue to leverage and build on your strengths. Through following good daily work habits you will continue to build your self-esteem which in turn attracts like minded people who share similar values. The challenge for everyone is to review the 5 Pillars as they apply to you and to make sure each is receiving the time and attention it deserves.