As you begin a new year - and new decade - now is a good opportunity to evaluate your own sales career goals and identify the steps you'll need to take this year to reach them.
Here are eight suggestions to help increase the quality of your professional and personal life in the coming year. Discuss them with your boss, your peers and your partner. Build an action plan and execute!
Imagine committing just 10 percent of the amount of time into becoming a sales professional as is needed to become a doctor, attorney, accountant, etc. What impact would a foundational understanding of how and why people buy — and then follow-up with continuing education — have on your sales career?
Most salespeople learn only enough to achieve a certain standard of living or just get by, whatever getting by means to them. By contrast, a professional salesperson is proactive, developing well-constructed goals and mapping out a solid plan to achieve them.
Was 2019 a good sales year for you or were there areas that were disappointing? Perhaps you lost steam midway through the year or maybe you were hit by economic slowness in your industry. Whatever the case, now is an opportunity to get energized and start producing results. Successful individuals measure their progress based on being more productive this year than they were last year. With the right focus and commitment, your success this year can outpace last year's - and make up for 2019 losses as well.
If you seem to be losing more sales than you're closing these days, now is the time to engage in sales training to learn an effective methodology that will help you succeed. Knowledge is power, but thinking you know everything there is to know about selling is proof that you don't. As golf superstar Tiger Woods says, "You can always become better." A professional salesperson has a commitment to a calling and that calling is to be of service to the customer.
To achieve that, he or she must have the education, commitment, and training that an amateur does not have. School is never out for the sales professional. Our mentor Roy Chitwood said that the more he learned about selling, the more he realized how much there is to know about selling. The most successful salespeople realize this and are eager to learn new ways to improve their selling skills.
In this age of e-mail, instant messaging and voice mail, nothing replaces personal communication. When was the last time you dropped in on your clients, shook their hands, asked how their business is going and really connected with them? You may learn how things have changed or how well - or poorly - your product or service is working for them.
To keep past sales sold, nothing beats a face-to-face check-in. Don’t forget your customers - and they won’t forget you.
While every salesperson needs colleagues and clients who compliment and buoy them up, too much cheerleading flattery can lead even down-to-earth salesperson to rest on their laurels. To grow, it's important to stay humble and be shown what you're doing wrong, whether by a manager or coach. Helpful suggestions from others, when given in a positive and constructive manner, can be your best learning tool. Make 2020 the year you find the right coach or mentor and "get real" with the things you're doing right - and wrong.
The great philosopher William James once said that the greatest need of a human being is to feel appreciated. If you're the type of salesperson who forgets about a client as soon as you've made the sale, it's time to mend your ways. Invest in high-quality, personalized thank-you notes and send them to clients with whom you close 2020 sales. Send them to people who've referred prospects to you as well as to your vendors. This single habit sets you apart as a sales professional who cares about customers after the sale.
The more gracious you are, and the more visible your appreciation, the greater your repeat business and referrals will be. The investment you make in simple thank-you cards or the time spent stopping by or making calls will return to you many times over in repeat business and referrals. After all, the easiest person to sell is a referral from a happy, satisfied customer.
Give-your-way to being successful. With the recent surge in philanthropic activity from billionaires such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, the personal benefits of giving have never been so well illustrated.
Roy Chitwood took a core philosophy from the founder of Parade magazine, Arthur H. "Red" Motley, who coined the phrase, "Nothing happens until somebody sells something" and revised it to say, "Nothing happens until somebody gives something." Just as the old adage says, you get what you give — and the more you give, the greater the intrinsic reward. Cast your bread upon the water, and it comes back toasted and buttered.
Many salespeople fall victim to a work-work-work mentality, become resentful and exhausted and lose perspective. A healthy sales career should never come at the expense of an ailing personal life.
If you're prone to burning the candle at both ends, let 2020 be the year to reward yourself with a well-deserved vacation or cruise, regular spa treatments, meals at fine restaurants or attendance at sports events, plays and other activities. When you participate in these activities, you allow your body, mind, and spirit to rest and rejuvenate. As a result, you'll return to your work-life refreshed, renewed and balanced.
What are you doing to grow personally and professionally in 2020?
Here’s to a great 2020! Good luck and good selling!
[Note: Thanks to our friend and mentor, Roy Chitwood, for his contributions to this article.]
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