Sales. The lifeline of business and a piece of the puzzle in your growth as an executive. For students and young executives, sales are one of the few roles that appear to be open. Indeed.com shows 19,000 more “sales” search results than “marketing” search results in Manhattan.
A lot of people I speak to have a block up about sales. Phrases like “I’m not a salesperson” or I don’t want to make calls all day are two of the more popular rebuttals. I get it. Sales isn’t for everyone. Sales shouldn’t fall in to one bucket. There are different roles, different companies, and different products or services.
My advice to students – don’t shut down sales completely. There are benefits to it. Many sales position have more room for growth. In marketing you will be paid what the role is worth. With sales you may receive bonuses or incentives for performance. You are also in a revenue generating position. Depending on your success you will gain the attention of more senior executives. Sales looks good on resumes. A lot of the qualities it takes to be good at sales translate well to other verticals of business.
Here are some ways to find success in sales even if you aren’t a salesman.
- Find a product you believe in – This doesn’t mean the product has to be a revolutionary medicine. The product should be valuable to the end user. For instance, entrepreneurs and small business owners have a million things on their mind. First is creating growth. Any product that helps handle operations so that the owners can focus on that is great. TriNetÂ acts as a strategic HR partner. When I spoke with David Browne at TriNet, he wasn’t selling me. He was educating me on how his product could solve my pain points.
- Enter a meeting visualizing a closed deal – Even though you work at a company and on a team, a lot of sales is you vs. you. Visual your success. In training you will likely see deals close. Listen to the language, soak in the process. I enter pitch meetings visualizing a signed PSA coming back from the client. I picture a kick off email and a launch meeting. Best selling authorÂ Jack Canfield offers a step by step guide.
- Don’t dwell on a no – If you aren’t getting no’s you aren’t trying. Sarah Blakely, CEO of Spanx says it best as she describes her childhood. Sarah’s dad would ask daily “What did you fail at today?”. That redefined failure to her and pushed her toward more success. Dwelling on a no will slow you down. Learn from it and move on. Sales is often a numbers game. I have a friend who estimates he closes 2 out of every 10 deals. These are larger deals. It is more profitable for him to get 80 no’s than to get 10. He often says “The more no’s I get at work the less no’s I hear when it comes to vacations, dinners, and purchases.”
- Keep the best with you – Familiarize yourself with some of the company’s top sales execs. You know, the performers who hit and exceed their goals month over month. If you have access to them watch them, buy them coffee, ask questions when appropriate. They have knowledge that can help you. If you don’t have access to them, keep them with you. I’ve walked in to many meetings where I am intimidated. I knew if Chris was with me it would be different. He has ten years more experience. He’s unflappable. Mentally I attack the meeting as if he’s there. What would Chris say? How would he respond? This helps my confidence and keeps me from getting flustered.
- Don’t Convince – The best deals are when expectations align. Too often we try to convince the potential buyer. Sometimes it works and you exceed expectations erasing doubt. Other times you spend the duration of the engagement having to convince them of your value. These relationships are often more stressful and lack long term potential. In a sales role you are presenting information. That information should get the buyer curious and lead to excitement. If you don’t get that it might not be the best fit. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal.
For students, don’t let the sales stigma scare you away. Seek companies that have what you are looking for in a sales role. Hands on training, room for growth and a product that checks our first box above. This role could be a stepping stone for a position in the department of your choice.
My name is John Zanzarella. I’m the CMO of Silverback Social and the CEO of the Westchester Digital Summit, To read more from me sign up for my newsletter or feel free to connect with me and explore how we can work together. If you like to listen, subscribe to our podcast, Remarkable You on itunes to hear more from Chris Dessi and I.
Want to grow your business using social media? Click here.