Practice these principles to take the art of selling to the next level.
As a salesperson or entrepreneur, you must guard your attitude and your time. Revenue protects, but it is also good to align with winning agendas and the powerful people internally – within your channel and inside your customer base. If you don't know how to manage the internal politics of your organization or those within the prospect base, you could be DOA.
Dissing competitors, gossiping and rumor-mongering are never the way to go. Take the high road and be stately in how you operate. Your hallmarks should be a warm and friendly persona tempered with thoughtfulness, good manners and deliberate language. You are on a mission to make a difference, and you know why you invest your time in any project or pursuit. Be seen as the one who rises above the negativity and noise to create a strategy and then execute it without a fuss.
1. Don't be afraid of your enemies.
Be under no illusion: You will make enemies. They will accuse you of all manner of nonsense, from harassing customers to damaging the company's brand by calling people on the phone, spamming prospects with too much outreach, working too hard, being too provocative, or failing to push the corporate message of product and solution superiority. My advice is to stay laser-focused on a business value narrative, and keep a low profile as you execute. Stay humble and be Switzerland.
Your enemies are driven by envy and fear of being found out for being lazy, cowardly and unimaginative. It's just like the old days of unions when the young, enthusiastic new worker would be pulled aside and dressed down by the shop floor steward: "If ya wanna last here, slow down and stop makin' the rest of us look bad. Ya get my meaning?" For you, it's all just water off a duck's back.
One of the people I mentor worked for a company that was full-bottle social selling and frowned upon anyone prospecting on the phone. He had to get in early and stay late, plus book meeting rooms to make his calls, so that he was not labeled a nonbeliever in the new passive, silent sales-floor approach to non-selling. The head of global sales had flown in from HQ and walked onto the floor – my mentee literally terminated a prospecting call midsentence so he wouldn't get fired. He called the prospect back 15 minutes later, apologizing for the call dropping out. You can find insanity in every business.
2. Wear a headset every day.
If you want to succeed in sales, you better wear a headset every day and light up the keypad on an honest-to-goodness phone. You also need to infect your organization with truth and the presence of the social phone. At the end of the day, a seller interacting live with a prospect is more powerful than anything digital. We all know this, and we know that the best things in life are still messy – love, business, growth, learning and sales. Watch kids play in the dirt and convince their mother to get them a lollipop, playing one parent against the other. This stuff is so innate and hardwired to our neuropsychology that it's more of an internal awakening than an esoteric ivory-tower epiphany.
Your success is not a game. You could be the VP of sales within five years if you lead the way with spectacular revenue and stupendous customer acquisition. What you learn and who you become, by overcoming your fear of the phone and becoming masterful with your voice and attitude, make you worthy of being a CEO. Every entrepreneur needs to be brilliant at setting a vision and winning the support of investors, partners and customers. It's all selling and leading. Everyone needs to make a living, but most also really want to make a difference. What will be the legacy of your work life be, and how will you help others achieve theirs?
Readers are leaders, but legacy comes from deeds. What will you do now? Really, what will you change in your life? Is this all too hard? Are you not up to it? Too much hassle and hard work?
3. Avoid the greatest temptation of all.
Perhaps of all the temptations we meet in life, the subtlest is the comfort zone, that invitation to settle for less, to go for contentment when the stresses of overachievement beckon. The way that takes you out of the comfort zone is the route less traveled. Most of us, when we come to that place where the two paths divide, prefer the one that leads to safety, warmth and comfort.
Before you ultimately decide on the blue pill or the red pill as in "The Matrix," settle in for an evening and watch two movies back to back: "Jerry Maguire" and "The Pursuit of Happyness." Then go outside, look into the night sky, and ponder your future. I think you can be so much better and make a greater difference in the lives of others, and professional selling could be the ideal vehicle for you to do just that. What do you think?
Success is about achieving your goals and living the life you want. There is nothing wrong with stepping back into an account management role or maybe abandoning sales altogether. Do what is best for you and your family. All I ask is that you are honest with yourself – if you claim to be a business development person, then actually do what it takes to claim that title.
4. Give back.
If you accept that challenge, as swamped as you may be, take the time to pass on the knowledge. You can pay it forward and make a difference in other people's lives. You'll be enriched and learn by helping others, and you'll create your own unique selling style. The infinitely curious seller never becomes bored because, however hard the grind in the coal mine, you will see more diamonds than anyone else.
Zig Ziglar was a man of genuine faith and integrity. Early in my sales career, he said to me, "You can have anything you want in life if you help enough people get what they want." Success is not about grasping and greed, nor about dominance and power. It's not about bluster and bravado or crushing and closing. It's about courage, values, leadership and service.
You really are fighting your own fears and the apathy of the people who need your help. Be the person worthy of the success you seek. Love and respect yourself and others as you strive to make a difference by giving everything you've got. Most importantly, have the courage to believe you are capable of achieving anything you intelligently and passionately commit to do.