In the current volatile job market, it is essential for salespeople to re-examine their career goals as well as their approach to selling.
For many, career change has come sooner than they would have expected. Tremors in the economy, from layoffs to outsourcing, have triggered a dramatic weeding out of this country's sales force.
Simply put: there is no longer a need for order takers.
To survive and ultimately succeed in selling today, a salesperson must make the personal investment of time and energy in becoming a sales professional.
Salespeople who distinguish themselves as professionals will have the advantage in the changing marketplace.
Different from the image of salesperson as con artist, a sales professional will get through difficult situations, and in light of today's economic situation, will also survive in a fledgling economy, more effectively and even more profitably by relying upon their integrity rather than the use of manipulation.
As my friend Ray Bagley, the former president of Westland Life Insurance Co. says, "When the seller maintains professional standards the prospect becomes more trusting and open to your proposal."
Twenty-five years of training thousands of salespeople has shown me that many people enter the sales field because of the potential for financial reward. However, the most successful people soon find their focus has shifted from money to the service they are performing for their customers.
A true sales professional honors not only their own integrity but the integrity of their occupation by choosing to be of service to the customer and by making their customers' needs primary.
Sales professionals choose to give of themselves without the expectation of immediate return.
To build a successful career in sales and truly be of service to your customers, there are several important traits necessary for you to possess.
Visualize them as building blocks of a pyramid, a structure that exemplifies permanency, withstanding the harsh elements and the test of time.
First you must possess a keen interest in selling.
Being interested in your career means you are excited to be a salesperson. You're enthusiastic, diligent and willing to learn and continue your education. Utilize all the information available that will cause you to become as successful as you are capable of becoming. Make the decision to develop, practice and apply this information toward your success.
The common thread among great salespeople is their positive attitude.
Superior salespeople understand that they are in the business of selling and they wholeheartedly embrace their profession. Through their attitude they expect and create success. They make choices that produce positive results and look for the positive in every situation.
Energy is the willingness to develop your capacity to succeed by getting a little better every day.
If you did your job a little better today than you did it yesterday and a little better still the following day -- and the next day, and the next -- can you imagine the kind of impact this would have on your career in just one year?
Successful salespeople are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to get ahead because they possess a passion for what they do.
They allow their positive attitude to propel them to put forth the extra effort it takes to succeed.
Often sales professionals endure a tremendous amount of rejection. Thus, it is essential that those who enter the selling profession believe wholeheartedly in their product or service, and that they have a true desire to not only serve their customers, but to get a little better at it every day.
Salespeople are not born, they are taught.
Therefore, to sell most effectively, you must learn a precise, step-by-step procedure, a sales method that covers all the points in the selling process, leaving nothing to chance.
To their detriment, many salespeople have neither learned nor implemented a selling system, thus they fail to establish rapport with their prospects, investigate their clients' needs, or demonstrate how their product and/or service can fulfill those needs. Salespeople who cannot perform these important functions will not close many sales.
A sales professional must be dedicated to details, to discipline and to their method for accomplishing sales results.
The good salesperson learns about the prospect and the prospect's needs. They implement a selling procedure that will help them gather and organize information to make their presentation attractive to their prospect. Through that method, selling becomes a procedure and ceases to be a problem.
Until it becomes a procedure, it will always be a problem.
When you have a method to combine with your high degree of interest in building your career, along with the positive attitude and energy it creates, you will become a success. You will witness the birth of a true sales professional.
There is a marvelous self-satisfaction in achieving success and accomplishing something that is important to you.
It isn't based on a stroke of luck or having it handed to you on a silver platter.
The professional salesperson who achieves success has worked hard for his or her accomplishments.
There are many more points to understand about selling and your future hinges upon your knowledge of them. Having abundant interest, a positive attitude and energy is a great start, but without the sales know-how, you will not find success.
Top performers know that school is never out for the professional.
Likewise, forming the habit of doing what is necessary distinguishes the winners from the unsuccessful. Successful people are simply unwilling to fail. They will do what is necessary, within ethical and moral boundaries, to succeed.
Selling, I believe, is the greatest profession in the world.
To become a sales professional, you must focus on building relationships and providing superior service, on setting goals and implementing methods to reach them.
Ultimately, to succeed in selling, you must embrace your profession and seek to improve not only yourself but the occupation as a whole every day.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.