Other than a few books on tape (wow that makes me sounds old) and a few random seminars, I have never formally been trained in sales. I have a marketing degree, but, and this might be surprising to some of you, it required a grand total of one class on the sales game.
That said, I somehow found myself working in a sales capacity for much of my career, starting in retail and moving to B2B. And trust me, no matter what you hear about “learning on the job”—my continued “sales training” was nothing to write home about. Basically it would have been a blank page because I never really received any additional training.
Despite all of this, sales seemed to be my bag. I found myself moving up the sales ladder. Hitting bigger numbers, driving better quarters, and generating greater income. It just…fit. People talk sometimes about whether your personality and character traits naturally lead you to your career, or whether your career is what helps to mold your adult personality and character traits. I can honestly say in my case I was born to be in sales.
Today, I am an entrepreneur and my title is no longer sales, but if anyone asks me what I do…? I’m in sales. Sure, in the networked economy I used social, digital and real life relationships to harness business. Today, I find, nurture and grow relationships while managing the continued satisfaction of clients. But when you boil it down, I’m still in sales. Only when you own the business you can call it something fancier.
Business is busy and life is hectic, but in the odd quiet moments, we all stop and reflect at times. Think about how you wound up where you did. How did it happen, 10, 15 years later, that you are where you are? What was that one thing, or perhaps two or three things that really helped you arrive (or led to failure).
Recently, I had that moment, and after thinking about it for a while, I realized that for me, all of my success in sales is due to one primary driver. Responsiveness.
Perhaps it started out because I was a young and enthusiastic sales professional. In my first B2B sales job I used to get so excited when someone asked me for a quote I would race to my cubicle and put together that price, send it off, follow it up with a call and pretty much do anything I could to get the deal. Not only was I excited, I was obsessed with the fast turn around.
Fast forward to today and I’m still the same way. I live and die by being responsive. I check my email way too much and I never feel bad about responding instantly to a customer email. In fact, I think its fitting, given that we are now in an economy where most people want responses to their online inquiries in the same day. Heck 32 percent of people want them in 30 minutes!
Being responsive is just one of those things that payoff. Andy Warhol spoke of everyone’s twenty minutes of fame. It is human nature to want to feel special, cared for, famous, even. The faster people feel responded to, the more they feel the love; especially if the response is thoughtful.
I often encounter people who say they are in sales who take a really long time to respond to sales or customer service opportunities. They let their inbox pile up and turn their attention to other things. For some people I’m sure it works and they do well anyhow. For me, I will probably never find that out because I believe in timely (almost rapid) response. It’s a blessing and a curse, but it has worked for me.
Are you an entrepreneur or a sales professional? If so, what is your secret sauce? What has worked for you?