Many times when we think of a salesperson our mind brings up images of being locked in an office at the automobile dealership or held captive at a timeshare presentation. But all sales jobs are not like this. It is true that it takes a certain type personality to succeed in sales. A career in sales can offer you the opportunity to earn an above average income and unlimited potential for growth.
When I majored in marketing many years ago we were taught that everyone is selling someone something all the time. You can have the greatest product in the world but nothing happens until someone sells it. As people we are always selling ourselves to others. I think one of the main things needed to succeed in sales is a love of people. A sales person is always out there, always meeting people, and always networking. So, just what does it take to succeed in sales?
A sales person must have a positive attitude. Sales probably more than any other occupation involves rejection. With most products you have to ask a certain number of people to buy before the sale is actually made. Years ago when I sold life insurance, I eventually figured out what my sales ratio was. I had to ask about 10 people, in other words get 10 no’s, before someone agreed to set an appointment with me. You must have a positive attitude to digest that much rejection day in and day out.
A sales person must have a plan. There are some jobs you can do that do not require a lot of planning. But when you are asking someone to spend their hard earned money you need to have a formula. You need training, sales materials, a presentation, and a system. Some companies provide leads or territories but typically most sales people are responsible for locating their own prospects. Sometimes people in sales have difficulty managing their time. Particularly ones that are outside the office all day. A successful sales person must be able to manage their time. Having a plan is the best way to do this.
A sales person must be committed to their success. It has long been argued if a salesperson is made or born. My opinion is that you are born with a certain personality type and certain types do better in sales. Typically the more outgoing person ends up in sales but it really depends upon the product you are selling. An introvert can become more outgoing and can succeed in sales. But it can be more difficult for them. To be successful in sales a person must be willing to learn everything about the product they are selling, sales techniques, and how to get along with others. This can take time. It takes 10 years to become a doctor, 5 years to become a lawyer, and 1000 hours to become a barber. Many times those in sales give up after just a few weeks or months, before they have had time to learn what is needed to be successful.
A sales person must be willing to continue learning and growing. Sales people are typically expected to be knowledgeable about their products and their company. They have to stay on top of what is happening as products change and situations change. Because they have so much contact with people they need to be aware of what is happening around them. Herbert Hoover said “the super-wise man learns from the experience of others.” Top sales people attend meetings, read books, and associate with others in the sales profession.
A salesperson must know how to set goals. Some jobs just happen whether you do anything or not. But sales do not just happen. You have to make them happen. It is critical that a salesperson know how many sales they need to make to meet their quota, how much money they need to earn to maintain their life style, and what they need to do to make this happen. The best way to do this is to set daily, weekly or monthly goals.
A salesperson must be enthusiastic about their product. It is difficult to sell something you do not believe in. When you really believe in something, the other person can see and feel your passion. If you don’t like the product or the company, the sale will be more difficult. It has been said that nothing great was every achieved without enthusiasm.
A salesperson must work hard and smart. Sales jobs are not easy. Much hard work is required if one is to be successful. But working hard is not enough. One must also work smart by managing their time and resources well, being disciplined, and following the example of others who have been successful. When I was in sales we followed the principle of “and then some.” I didn’t just give it my best, I gave it my best and then some. At the end of the day when I was ready to go home I would make one more sales call. Often that call would be the one that produced a sale. By giving just a little more time and effort you could propel yourself from an average salesperson to a super sales person.
All of the above tips have little to do with age, education, background, marital status, or sex. Some types of sales require specialized education or training but not all of them do. For the most part, success in sales is determined by the individual, by their attitude. Anyone can succeed as a sales person, if he or she wants it badly enough.