In my whole entire life I have never heard a child exclaim “when I grow up I am going to be a sales person.” Being in sales for 18 years, and being in a position for the last 12 years of hiring sales people I have observed that very few people get into sales on purpose. What I mean by that is people typically end up in sales because of 3 main reasons: They graduate college with a general degree in business or art, and are struggling to find jobs in their desired field (no offense to my art majors it just so happens I have hired so many of you). Like myself they either did not go to or finish college, and do not desire to work a hard labor job. Or lastly they have a mid-life crisis in which they become unemployed from their field of expertise.
It is no wonder then that sales is an industry of so much turnover with roughly 80% of the field that are mired in struggle, and inconsistency. If you think in relation to other professionals such as physicians, lawyers, engineers, athletes, etc it takes the sum of many years of commitment, education, training, and development before they settle into their careers. Yet in sales the training often consists of some downloaded product knowledge, a copy of the movie Boiler Room(feel free to plug-in any other sales related movie such as: Wolf of Wallstreet, or Glengarry Glen Ross), a name tag, and some business cards. The truth is to arrive at success in sales it takes the same level of commitment, education, training, and development of other top earning professionals. A mentor of mine always told me “Sales is the easiest lowest paying job in the market, but it is also the hardest highest paying job.” I have learned that these are some of the truest words ever spoke, and using them as a guideline it is easy to gauge where you stand in the circle of life. For example, do you love going to work to hang with your co-workers, but often complain about the amount of your check on pay-day? Do you love the flexibility of outside sales, yet find it difficult to pay your bills?
It is unfortunate that rookie sales people are not given adequate and authentic training. It is also sad when a sales person is full of talent, but is unwilling to commit to the habits of the top 20%. The great news though is if you find yourself in the bottom 80% it is easy to begin executing like a top earner. While you may not see the habits pay off immediately I have never witnessed a person that committed to the process consistently over a long period of time that failed to become a top producer. However there is a major obstacle to overcome before you can begin to implement the behaviors and actions of a top producer.
GET OVER YOURSELF!
That’s right I said it! In order to begin instilling the behaviors needed to build a successful career in sales you must get over yourself, your beliefs as to who you are, and what you do for a living. As I mentioned above the majority of people in sales never intended to get into sales in the first place, and so the mindset is that of a part-time employee. Often times people operate as though they will do this thing for a little while until the job/career/opportunity of their dreams comes along, and saves them from pushing another widget or service ever again. Sometimes that opportunity does come along and that is fantastic, however in most cases sales people in frustration hop from sales organization to sales organization with the hope that the grass is just a little greener on the other side. Unfortunately the grass is only green for those that water it, and since they are simply changing locations not behaviors the grass tends to get a little more yellow each time. Success can be found selling in any integrity based sales organization, but it takes changing the mindset in order to commit to changing behaviors as well as results.
Change Your Mind Change Your Results
One of the most successful sales people I have ever worked is a perfect example of how changing the mindset changes the behaviors, which makes a tremendous impact on the results. I met this young man when he was at the tender age of 20 years old. While he possessed life circumstances that certainly should have served as motivations his mind was constantly thinking of how he was going to be successful doing something other than what he was doing. He was a very likable kid with a ton of talent, yet he struggled at the bottom of my organization for almost a full year. Throughout that year he would keep me informed of his latest career decisions. One week he came to me and said he was going to go back to school to become a police officer, and a month or so later he made plans to join the military to build a better life for his family. There was nothing wrong with these career choices, however because he was just looking for a way to succeed he lacked the passion needed to see his plans through. This caused several conversations, and time spent figuring out the next move.
Things finally came to a head when I held open interviews for the manager position in his location. Both candidates for the job explained in their game plan that they would fire this sales person because he didn’t take the position seriously, and had become a distraction to the rest of the team. This inspired a conversation that impacted his mindset, and forever changed the course of his career. As a result to the changed mindset he began to commit to the process. Each month he got better, and each month he experienced a career high commission. Three years later has was earning at a level of the top 5% of sales people in our industry, and is still growing today.
If this young man who nobody would have predicted would become a top performer can make this dramatic change in results which turned around his career and his entire life so can you. This is a man that was seen as a failure and was on the verge of losing his job, yet became an example for an entire organization. He was able to do this because he changed his mindset, and instead of wasting time figuring out how to find success elsewhere he looked in the mirror to realize by making a commitment that success was staring him right in the face.
Remember a career in sales may not have been your first choice, but don’t let that prevent you from becoming great!