Congratulations! You have a new job in professional sales. Regardless of the industry, you probably have a great opportunity in front of you. There are a few things you need to know to succeed in this new adventure. This isn’t going to be motivational or product knowledge kind of advice, I’m going to assume (a) you have good reasons to succeed, and (b) your company is going to help you with the nuts and bolts.
Here is some advice grounded in over 25 years leading sales teams and watching how hundreds of new sellers come into the role. I’ve had a front-row seat observing every kind of professional sales career start-up you can imagine, and I have some advice for you.
Bloom where you are planted.
Most professional sales roles have a ton of upside. Ask yourself these two questions: Are there people succeeding here? Is this company going to coach me on exactly how to succeed? If you can answer yes to both, your situation has upside. Sales people are the ultimate “green grassers.” They tend to jump around a lot and give up momentum in their careers. You may decide to move on at some point, of course, but make sure you have had some success first. If you haven’t, you are almost certain to go somewhere else and struggle again.
Watch your reference groups.
Sales organizations almost always operate on the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. Those top twenty percent earn 80% of the commissions. Make sure you are getting some time with people in that group. Buy them a cup of coffee, or ask them to be on your personal board of directors. Every superstar has struggled, and they have all been new at some point. They will be glad to give you advice and direction. The “80 percenters” will often have something else to offer… excuses and negativity. Be careful, those things can be very attractive when you are down.
You are in the persuasion business. Be an expert.
Sales managers and coaches tend to underemphasize the art of persuasion. Top professional sellers really only have one thing in common with each other; they are amazingly persuasive. Learning to be persuasive is a craft, not an art. You’ll need to study it to understand all of the complexities. You will need to know: how questions work, when to be bold, how to challenge an idea, how to be an assistant buyer, how to get an angry yes, how to earn trust, how to be the second smartest person in the room, how to weigh people’s influence in a decision, when to be quiet, when to ask again, when to press the reset button and when to walk away.
Hard work wins.
Surprise! This turns out to be true. You will be amazed at the lengths salespeople will go to avoid prospecting. You’ll see people investing more time and effort in shortcuts than the actual work would have taken. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. Hard work is the ultimate sales success hack: if you work harder than everyone else you are going to (a) make more sales (b) make more money (c) attract attention, and (d) build permanent career momentum. Trying to find shortcuts will attract completely unnecessary risks into your career. My advice? Just do the work. It always pays off and you’ll be able to use those “hard work muscles” for the rest of your career.
So, that’s my best advice for you in your new sales role. The bottom line is that you really couldn’t be in a better situation. 2017 is a fantastic time to be a professional seller. Make a decision to succeed and get busy!