It isn’t easy to become a top performing salesperson. If you are new to a sales role, it can appear to be a daunting task, but I assure you it is not so difficult as to prevent anyone sufficiently motivated from succeeding in becoming a great salesperson.
- Develop the Right Mindset: The first half of my first book, The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, is about the mindset necessary to succeed in B2B sales—and more generally—in any human endeavor. You need to be disciplined, optimistic, other-oriented, competitive, resourceful, proactive, persistent, an excellent communicator, and accountable for what you sell. Get the right mindset, and you have a solid foundation to succeed faster.
- Acquire the Skill Sets: The second half of TOSG contains the skill sets you need to sell effectively, including closing, prospecting, storytelling, diagnosing, negotiating, business acumen, managing change, and leadership. In part, the speed of your success depends on the time you take to develop these skills.
- Become a Subject Matter Expert: In Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition, I wrote about a concept I call the 52% Subject Matter Expert, based on a post I wrote here some time ago. It’s essential you know your product, your services, and your solution. But it is even more important that you understand the intersection between your business and your dream client’s business. You have to work to become the person who knows how to produce the outcomes your clients need, the subject matter expert in your field.
- Become World Class at Prospecting: If you desire to accelerate success, spend more time prospecting. More prospecting means more meetings. More meetings means more time with prospects. More time with prospects means more time selling. There is not a way to improve your ability to sell without spending time selling. Prospecting is the activity that generates sales meetings. If you prospect more, you will succeed faster.
- Improve Your Business Acumen: You must be intellectually curious about business. You have to develop an interest in how business works, learning the way companies make money, the decisions that business leaders routinely make, and how they think about their strategies. I have written here that business acumen is greater than sales acumen, but I no longer believe that to be true. Instead, business acumen is sales acumen. The more you do to learn how business works, the better your ability to provide sound counsel.
- Let Your Dream Clients Educate You: Every conversation with a prospect or client is an opportunity to learn. Your clients can and will educate you. If you want faster results, ask questions about what’s important to your clients, and ask them to deepen your understanding of why it’s important to them. Ask them to share with you why they do certain things the way they do them now, and why they don’t do things some other way. Get an education by asking.
- Write a Professional Development Plan: You cannot learn to sell by reading a book. You can only improve what you are doing when you are selling by reading books. You cannot learn to sell by listening to a podcast. You can only learn how to think about sales in a way that allows you to make better choices when you are selling. No video can teach you to sell. Watching videos can only deepen your understanding of what you might do to improve your ability to sell. Write a professional development plan and take full responsibility for your growth.
- Steal from the Best Salespeople: The very best salespeople have stolen large parts of their approach from other salespeople. They have copped their best talk tracks, and they have modeled their beliefs and behaviors. When someone is succeeding, there is every reason to deconstruct what they do to apply it in your approach. When a problem has already been effectively solved, you can speed your results by accepting the answer instead of trying to solve it anew.
- Ask Your Manager for Coaching: To speed for growth and results, ask your manager for coaching. Ask them to join you on sales calls, and ask them to give you feedback on your mindset and your skill sets. Ask them to make you aware of any gaps that would prevent you from succeeding, and ask them to challenge you with questions that cause you to explore different choices you might make. Coaching speeds improvement and results. Ask for coaching.
These nine activities will speed your growth. You will notice that most of the people you encounter in sales are not doing many of these things, even though they could easily benefit from doing so. The decision as to the speed at which you develop is also the decision as to the rate of your results.
The time and effort you put into your development in growth will pay dividends now and deep into the future.
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