I’m not perfectly sure when it happened but it most certainly did. That moment when I decided that being just okay at a job was uncomfortable and not enough.
I have the need to sell. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. Whether it was peddling stationary door to door so I could save up and buy a bike, or selling grapefruit to raise money for a school trip, I’ve been in the business of filling a pipeline for many years. It was easy then; it’s gotten harder.
I have a firm handshake. I’m pretty likeable and can be outgoing. I don’t have much fear of rejection. I’m decent at overcoming objections. I’m not afraid to make a ton of phone calls. I like to think people trust me and buy from me because they know I’m not out to get them. I love commission checks. You know what all of this amounts to? A very average sales rep.
Anyone can establish rapport. Even if they’ve never read “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
Anyone can learn enough about a product so that they can do the features & benefits show for a customer or prospect.
Anyone can take on the book of business that’s been handed to them, wait for the phone to ring, and take credit for orders that would have come in anyway.
Here’s what I wasn’t doing. And you probably aren’t either.
- Lose Your Ego – I know you have to be confident. But I promise, you don’t know it all. And you haven’t mastered the sale. You probably have some great skills! But you can learn more. You can do more. Sales is constantly evolving and so is business. In order to remain relevant, you have to be willing and open to change. Criticism isn’t always fun, but when it’s constructive, it can propel you forward in awesome ways.
- Get Coached – You aren’t an athlete. (Well, maybe you are…) But coaching is critical no matter what. When you are too involved in a situation, it can be nearly impossible to see the forest through the trees. Talk about your deals with someone else. Maybe it’s your manager. Maybe it’s your spouse. Maybe it’s another rep. But allowing someone else a view into your opportunities may just give them some vision into what you may be missing.
- Own Your Calendar – You get pulled in so many different directions! You have to take care of your customers. I get it. But if you aren’t setting aside time for activities that will pay you more than you are currently making, you’re doing it wrong. Set aside time in your calendar every single week to prospect for new business. (Yes, I’m talking about making cold calls.) And then DON’T LET ANYTHING STEAL THAT TIME. Even if it’s only an hour a week (shame on you), you have to do it.
- Have a Plan – I’m not going to preach the old adage “fail to plan, plan to fail,” but… I’ve only recently learned how to plan my days, weeks, and even months. Without a plan, I find myself staring at a computer screen with no one to call, no one to coach and nothing to do. Figure out what you need to accomplish. Make a list. Review what you did the week before and be sure to fill in the gaps. Get to things you didn’t finish. Prioritize. (Clearing out your email box is not as important as you think it is.) If it’s in your plan, it remains top of mind and you are more likely to work diligently.
- Be Uncomfortable – We call it avoiding the warmth of the sun. Get out of your own way and allow yourself to grow. Allow yourself to fail. Afraid to call a CEO? Do it anyway. Afraid to go to business networking events? Do it anyway. Afraid to actually ask your prospect what their budget is? Do it anyway. Afraid talk with your boss or manager about how you can get better at your job? Do it anyway. I think you get the point…. Be brave. Take chances. Be more than you are in this moment.
It takes the right attitude and the right mindset to make changes to the status quo. You have to be ready. You have to know what’s important to you. It’s not easy but it’s so incredibly worth it.