Professional sales is a marathon, not a sprint

You should never compromise your character or integrity to win any one deal. I guarantee it will have an adverse effect on your long-term success. In addition, don’t take a sales job if your intention is to make a quick buck and move on to another opportunity.

In my career, I have witnessed reps make huge commissions because of being in the right place at the right time. There are hundreds of books and seminars that promote the fast and easy way to make it big in sales. The reason these books and seminars sell is that by nature we all want the shortcut. We want that new Mercedes or Rolex watch sooner rather than later. So, we buy into the notion that we deserve to achieve high commissions almost immediately — that is, if we do the things espoused in these publications and seminars. By our nature, we don’t want to be told that professional sales is a marathon. We want to believe success can happen overnight. It stands to reason that this topic may not be popular with people who are looking for that quick hit. So if a shortcut to sales success is what you are searching for, I would suggest you stop reading this post immediately.

The Universal Sales Truths that serve as the foundation for professional sales executives hold true for any product or service, as well as any time frame, past, present or future. Most importantly, they take time to develop. They do not happen overnight. The specific strategies that you deploy to successfully sell your product or service flow from these sales truths.

Just for fun, and in order to drive home the point, let’s look at the characteristics of a sales rep who does the polar opposite of the Universal Sales Truths. Said another way, he is a sprinter — not a marathon runner.

  • He learns nothing from a lost sale. In fact, he tells his prospects that they made a very poor decision going with the competition, and he might even call them stupid.
  • He never truly listens to his prospects’ objections or questions, but instead has his response ready in advance because he thinks he always knows what the prospect wants and needs.
  • He uses only canned and boilerplate presentations and proposals, regardless of the prospects’ requirements.
  • He never asks for help. He thinks he is smart enough to win all his deals completely on his own.
  • To him, a highly successful sales exec within his company can offer no guidance or wisdom that would help him accelerate his career.
  • He has no formal business plan because he thinks those are a waste of time.
  • He plays golf almost every Wednesday, and very rarely makes sales calls on Friday afternoons.
  • He feels that his sales manager provides no value, and lets his opinion be known.
  • He works with one individual and one individual only at his accounts. No need to call any higher. He is convinced he is receiving all the business available.
  • He likes to brag about the money he makes and the things he buys.

We can all chuckle about the above bullet points, but I can assure you that many senior sales reps suffer from one or more of these attributes. I know this because when I’ve conducted interviews with C-level executives, these topics came up. And the stories that I heard would boggle your mind.

Here are my 5 Universal Sales Truths:

  • Learn from successful people of integrity
  • Work your land
  • Use words carefully
  • Do more listening than talking
  • Be humble, not prideful

Sales can be an absolutely awesome career. However, you should approach it for the long term. Be a marathon runner — you won’t be disappointed!

 

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