No profession is harder on rookies than sales. The rejection is real. The effort to be successful is extensive. Moreover, selling is not something that can be learned from a book. Selling is an art, and it takes a relationship artist to make a career in sales.
This article is for the sales newbie. Someone who has just have landed a new job in sales. You’re excited, motivated, and ready for the challenges that await you. The high earning potential probably drew you in, and now you’re ready to turn that potential into reality. Most kids don’t dream about being the World’s Number 1 Sales Person when they grow up. However, a very good living can be had when you’re good at persuading people to say yes.
This advice is not coming from an ivory tower. Early in my career I found success in sales and enjoyed double digit account growth year over year. As my career progressed, I eventually decided to take a job in legal (for better or worse, I am a lawyer). However, I will be the first to admit that the more lucrative decision would have been to stay in sales.
All good salespeople will tell you that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you are always selling. You’re selling your ideas, your style, your products, your service and your skills. Some of us sell those things to customers, others sell them to coworkers. Like it or not, we’re also selling ourselves to our bosses. In truth, we’re all selling whenever we interact with another person (or if you’re not, you should be).
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I’ve been in sales since 10th grade. As a short Korean kid trying to get through high school, I learned that some very simple things can get you ahead in life.
A good sense of humor, a non-judgmental demeanor, and simply listening when others speak can all go a long way to building lasting relationships. I learned that no matter who I was talking to, whether it be teachers, coaches, parents or classmates, high school was a lot easier when I could convince people to buy into me. I realized that winning wasn’t always based on raw talent, and sometimes the right mix of “soft skills” could also result in victory.
Soft skills are those things we do when we interact with other people that makes those people look upon us favorably. Things that gives the relationship a sense of harmony and satisfaction. Deploying effective soft skills requires reading the room and listening to what people say, both with their words and their body language.
These same principles apply to sales. Closing deals and winning clients, these things don’t happen when the decision maker is in front of you. It happens long before, when you’ve made the conscious decision to listen when others speak, to care about others’ needs, and to utilize the power of a good laugh.
People want to do business with people who are genuine, problem-solvers, and fun to be around. It really comes down to those things that make others like you. People want to do business with people they like. It’s that simple
If you are serious about being a professional salesperson, remember selling isn’t about you, it’s about them. You need to listen and observe with intent, and not be afraid to laugh, even if its at yourself.
Sales is not for the faint of heart, and if you’re taking the plunge, I recommend checking out the following books. Every great salesperson I’ve ever met has read these books, and they should be on the top of every aspiring salesperson’s reading list:
By Dale Carnegie
By Malcolm Gladwell
By Grant Cardone
By Jeffrey Gitomer
By John Wooden