What’s in it for me? That’s what the salesperson who wants to progress in his profession must ask. He must set selfish goals to succeed in selling.

Especially now in the beginning of the year. Here’s why? Sales is not a desk job so this column has repeatedly averred. Systems and structure for reporting is something the salesperson may be given but execution is unique to the salesperson. The dynamism of the profession and the heightened human interaction in it deems it so.

The downside of this dynamism manifests itself in continual rejection, unending pressure to deliver numbers and being out-rightly lied to by prospects. There is also a debilitating feeling of being continuously on the run and long dry spells of nil sales. For the uninitiated, these are not rare occurrences in sales – they are common place. Just reading about them can weigh you down. How much more then experiencing them? Small wonder then, that selling is the job with the highest professional casualties.

Getting by gets you out. So, set selfish goals to succeed

Unlike a desk job where one can push pen and paper and get by, the same cannot be said of selling. Getting by gets you out pretty fast. Either by the emotional weight of the job crushing you. or the employer reaching the end of his emotional tether. It is for this reason that to pull through one must have a selfish reason. It is also for this reason that progressive sales managers will tie commission payments to a tangible item the salesperson can aim for.

I knew a manager who would pointedly ask the fresh recruit what he wanted. For many (as they were just starting off in life) it was a TV set. He would then zero down on the make and size of the set. Once that was settled upon he would take the salesperson to an electronics shop. There, they would both identify the set, its cost, and leave there with a photo of it and by when the TV set would be bought.

Set selfish goals to succeed

Sales manager’s role

Having set this goal, the manager would drum acquisition of the TV set as the basis of why the salesperson must overcome the inevitable challenges the job comes with. It was a much more successful gambit than driving the sole agenda of “You must meet your targets otherwise we can’t keep you.” Two things motivate the selfish reason-the stage in life the salesperson is at and his personality. For the latter the selfish reason could be the fulfillment he gets when thriving in the limelight of recognition.

For instance, he could be feeding on the applause he gets having his or her photo pasted for all to see as salesperson of the month or year. As for the former, I know of another sales manager who called in the wife of his most promising salesperson. He told her that her house would get a complete makeover if her husband (the promising salesperson) delivered the set targets. The hapless fellow never knew where to hide-the pressure for numbers was more intense at home than at work. Suffice to say, the house was made over at the end of the year.

Reasons evolve

Naturally the selfish reason must emanate from the salesperson and is not static as he passes through different stages in life. It could be dowry today and a promotion tomorrow. Or, building a house today and several for rent tomorrow. Or, a flat screen analogue TV today and home make over tomorrow. To progress in the profession the salesperson must have a selfish reason for doing the job. Further, it helps the manager effectively do his, if he knows this reason. The salesperson must know why he is selling. Correctly answering that question places him much ahead of the negative energy that will manifest in his duties and which he must overcome.


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