Looking back over my 40-year sales career I’ve pondered many times the thought, “Is there just one principle or skill that would significantly influence a person’s sales success?”
I’m convinced there is no “magic bullet”, something so unique and different that if a salesperson were to happen upon it they would become the greatest salesperson in the world. Sales success is built upon the correct application of many different principles and skills. However, is there possibly just one thing, that by itself, might have a profound influence upon a salesperson’s success? After many years of training salespeople and having spent a career in sales myself, I believe for someone to be successful at selling they must want to be successful at selling. They’ve “gotta wanna” be successful. If they have the desire, then every other principle and skill can be built upon that foundation.
I believe for someone to “gotta wanna” be successful in selling they must apply a self-evaluation built on five key principles. These five principles will validate whether salespeople are willing to do those things that will allow them to become successful. Here are the five principles and I will discuss each one briefly: Understanding, Belief, Vision, Desire and Purpose.
Understanding: Most people pursue a career in sales without preparation and knowledge. They believe selling is simply telling someone about a product or service and hoping they will buy. Selling is a professional career just like medicine, law, accounting and business, requiring training in order to properly achieve the desired result. Selling is a service industry where the desired result of all your activity is to solve a problem with the best possible solution. Selling is an honorable career that requires education and training to be successful. Selling is difficult and not a career to be taken lightly. Simply calling yourself a salesperson does not ensure success. A career in sales can provide a significant income for those who prepare themselves.
Belief: To be successful at selling you must believe you can be successful. Selling is not something you do until something better comes along. Sales is a career choice that can provide a wonderful standard of living for you and your family. Just as with any other professional career, if you study and train to become competent you can grow into being a leader in your field. Becoming a top salesperson does not happen by chance, it is the result of hard work and preparation. Salespeople can earn incomes that are greater than those of doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, businessmen, etc. Don’t hope selling will provide a satisfying career, believe that it will.
Vision: If you can see it, you can achieve it. You must be able to visualize your sales success in order to achieve it. Identify the top salespeople in your industry. Watch what they do and then visualize yourself doing what they do. Look for patterns of success and then apply those patterns to your own activities. Picture in your mind the success you want to achieve in life and then imagine the joy and satisfaction you will receive. Now, visualize doing those activities in sales that will bring you the success you desire. Catch a vision of what your life can become as you work, study and apply the principles and skills of selling.
Desire: What do you really want in your life? If you want to be financially stable, to enjoy the finer things in life, to have the time, money and freedom to choose, then a career in sales is a good choice. Your desire cannot be passive, it must be a burning desire! You must be willing to work hard, sacrifice, and do those things average salespeople are not willing to do. Selling cannot be something you have just fallen into, a job that is convenient for now. If you are selling because you think it is easy and convenient, you will fail. Forty-six years ago I met a young man who was practicing dentistry in Taiwan. I asked him where he had studied and what he had done to prepare himself for a career in dentistry. His response was, “My father practiced dentistry and when he died I inherited the equipment, so now I’m practicing dentistry.” He lacked the desire to obtain the education and skills to be successful, because the opportunity to practice dentistry fell into his lap. He was about as prepared as most salespeople are without training. To be successful at selling you must have a true desire to do those things which are necessary to succeed.
Purpose: Of all the principles that I have discussed as indicators of whether you have the ability to be successful in selling, nothing is more important than “purpose”. Purpose will keep you going when times are tough. Purpose will sustain you through discouragement and adversity. When you have a purpose so strong and compelling in your life that you will not quit, but continue in the face of all the struggles inherent in a sales career, then you will find success. Without a purpose to keep you focused on what you really want in your life, the negative experiences you will encounter may cause you to doubt your decision to choose a career in sales. Your doubts will grow, and soon you will abandon a selling career that could have provided financial freedom.