People tend to hold the notion that salespeople are “born.”
That’s a myth.
Here’s the reality: There’s no such thing as a “born salesperson.” People are born one of two things: a baby boy or a baby girl. Salespeople are made. They are made through trial and error, commitment and an unwavering dedication to learning the complex and detailed art of sales. Just as one is not born with the “surgeon gene” or the “lawyer gene” you are not born with the “salesperson gene.” Hard work over a long period of time – that’s what makes the person.
At 19, I started my sales career.
I was terrible.
I started my career selling insurance, door to door. That involved knocking on strangers’ doors, and trying to convince them to pay for my service. The definition of “cold call” indeed. It took me a long time to gain a basic proficiency in sales – one where I could get through my entire presentation without mistakes. Once I hit that milestone, it took an even longer period of time of consistent practice to get good.
In fact, the above story will echo for many salespeople. If they were being honest with you, they too would tell you that they made a ton of mistakes, until they finally got better.
Here’s the most important thing: engage. If you engage in the proper activates, the results will follow. This is a hard career in which to make anticipations. For example, you cannot anticipate that you’re going to “pick it up” on the first try, and immediately achieve success. Reality doesn’t work like that.
Keep at it. Stay awake. Figure it out.
At the end of every single call, you need to evaluate yourself. “What did I do wrong?” “Did I stumble during my pitch?” “What did I do RIGHT?”
If you take that critical time to self-reflect, evaluate and commit to gradual improvement, the numbers will go through the roof. It won’t happen overnight. Still, when you look back at your journey, you will be surprised at the results.
So, How Do You Develop Those Skills?
There are a wide variety of resources out there. You have books, videos, Google and YouTube, to mention just a few. I can’t even remember the last time I had to hire a handyman, carpenter or plumber to come into my home to fix something. I just “Google it.”
I truly believe that business – sales – should be no different. At the beginning stages of every company, the business owner needs to wear many hats. Your job is everything, but your job is also nothing, at the start. Later, when your business thrives and you bring on consultants, that’s a different story. That’s some ways away – so, you need to do a little bit of everything; you’ve got to engage in the sales cycle.
The first thing is the activity itself. Just get out there and do it. No, you’re not going to be perfect, and you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. But you’re also going to learn through those mistakes.
I read a quote the other day: “Don’t let your desire for perfection interfere with your action.” You need to try first. Trial and error, coupled with consistency and dedication, will lead to mastery. First, engage. Then, you will gradually see what needs to be fixed.
Later, you evaluate. You can see, after engaging, what areas need improvement. In contrast, if you never engage, you’ll fail to see where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Here is another favorite of mine, to demonstrate the above: “A ship in the harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.”
Here is another key point that I teach new salespeople: don’t just listen to the radio. What I mean by that is, go out and buy some audio books. Keep them playing in the background. Whether they are more on the motivational or tactical side, it doesn’t matter. You will go into a meeting with that fresh information and utilize it to gain sales and clients. Very important.
The sheer number and variety of available resources can be overwhelming. From online courses to seminars, there’s just so much out there. There’s no excuse not to learn something new. If I wanted to become an engineer tomorrow, for example, yes, I’d have to go to engineering school. It would be grueling and laborious. I would have to dedicate myself to a new skill and trade, and sacrifice thousands of hours to master something new. I could use the available resources to do so (I don’t recommend using YouTube to master engineering), but it would still be a long road. Still, it’s possible. Just like it’s possible to become a good, or exceptional, salesperson. It takes sacrifice, time, and desire.