Have you ever been sold to the exact same product, by the exact same sales person, at the exact same spot, only a decade later? And were you impressed at their level of professional and personal growth or dismayed at the depths to which they had sunk? The former is an object of admiration; the latter, well, would do the profession a favour and give it a break. After all, it does not exemplify personal development in sales, worthy of emulation. Personal drive sells more than years of experience.
How do I build myself in sales?
Now then. Sales is a profession. Sadly, only a handful of sales people see it as such. As a profession one grows (or is expected to grow) in it. Just as a doctor, architect or lawyer does in their respective professions. Now, there are two broad ways of growing within the sales profession: either through making more and more money, or rising higher and higher in the organizational structure. Either way, a sales person who has grown in the profession remains a source of admiration. War stories are told about him; he becomes a legend. That’s why a sales leader who cannot sell is not respected by his team.
Unfortunately, many salespeople are in the profession because it was the only job they could find; or, they thought they could wing it. For some, it is because it would give them “free time” as opposed to being tied a desk job. It could even be because they think, somehow, one day, they will wake up and they won’t be in Sales. Because of this amorphous foundation, their professional sales house never quite takes off the ground, let alone gets fully erected.
Skills that benefit in personal development
Successful salespeople we admire have invested in themselves. They have continually and deliberately improved their selling strategy. Further, they have moved from selling fully furnished apartments to an embassy (features) to selling strategically placed apartment in the event of an evacuation (benefits). Such salespeople have moved from selling a product to offering a solution; they discuss a client’s strategy based on research, before visiting him; these salespeople don’t get tripped with the same objection for the umpteenth time. No. They long ago made a list of appropriate responses which they deploy with ease.
Further, almost to the mark, they can sniff out their target prospect. Even their sales kit is evidence of growth. From a basic folder to say, an iPad; such salespeople draw statements of admiration (and sometimes jealousy) from colleagues and clients alike, to the effect that, “You’ve really grown”; yes, it is usually visibly evident.
How to know if you are good at sales
But such transitions take time, effort and interest. It means accepting to trip but not fall. Next, it means kissing several frogs before the prince; also, it may even mean your being ignored, rejected, kicked out of offices and learning not to take it personally. Indeed, such transitions mean you focusing on improvement until, finally, breakthrough! But most of all, such far-reaching transitions take a sales person who looks in the mirror and proudly admits, “I am a sales person”.
With this admission, such a salesperson does not live by the hour, let alone the day; no; such a salesperson lives by the lesson learnt, the lesson implemented, and the success there from. This salesperson is a sponge. He will learn from other sales people, clients, competitors, ‘Google’, books, the spouse, sibling, child, anyone. He will thrive, not just survive. You will develop a sales personality. The foregoing are foundational achievements of a sales person.
My favourite cabbie once told me a story. He came to Nairobi from Naivasha to eke out a living. On arrival, he was employed by a newspaper vendor to, well, sell newspapers. He moved on to selling his own, to employing others to do so, to being employed to be a cabbie, and to buying his own cab. Growth. Meantime, what triggered him to narrate this story was the sight of his first employer still selling newspapers at the precise point he used to, and dressed in the same manner, only now he was much older.
A line from the 1994, 5-star rated, award winning movie, The Shawshank Redemption, captures the essence of this post best: “Get busy living, or get busy dying” (Yes it’s on Netflix)
Personal development in sales
Appreciating that selling is not confined to the profession and is a skill that will propel ones growth in all aspects of life is the beginning of success for the salesperson. This is the role and importance of personal development in sales. When the salesperson does not grow, and is not willing to, the nature of the profession is such that negative energy sets in; such a salesperson becomes poisonous to new recruits, an embarrassment to the profession, and should do the profession a favour and hang his boots.
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