7 Principles for Individual Sales Success; By Mark Hunter
You should only read this if you believe that your level of success is largely up to you.
Yes, it’s impacted and influenced by external events, but it’s not your sales manager, employer, customer, product, partner, bank manager or religious leader who ultimately determines your destiny. It’s you, and in difficult selling times, that’s the first principle that you have to accept.
There are few professions where the inner strength of the individual protagonist is as critical as that of an individual salesperson. During each sales call, you put your own credibility—and that of your company—on the line. Most likely, you are the primary arbiter of success or failure, and you always face the risk of failure or rejection. But when you win, the sense of achievement and personal gratification is amplified just because you are always putting yourself out there.1. Ambition
To achieve your ambition, you first need to be very clear as to what it is. There are two main questions you should ask yourself;
“Do I know what I really want to achieve?” and
“Is my goal ambitious enough?”
A ‘shoot for the moon’ goal is a wonderful motivator. By figuring out your personal outrageous goal—conceived in a moment of suspended reality—you see what might be possible. Then you can plan to achieve that ambition by breaking it down into attainable and realistic steps. Winning sales professionals do this in small ways every day as they strategize how to maximize revenue from an account, or win a specific deal. Then it is the art of the possible, planning the realization of the ambition. (Trying to measure your ambition might be hard—here’s a way to think about it.)2. Commitment and Resilience
How badly do you want it? Will you stay the course? Invariably you will see seemingly ‘lucky’ people for whom everything just works out. Evidence of their hard work is sometimes hard to see. Enduring hardship is frequently the bedfellow of success, so you’ve got to be committed to your goal and both resilient and relentless in its pursuit. When you continue to do the right thing, and stick with it, good things invariably happen.
3. Honesty and Integrity
These are two of the least understood, and most undervalued, personal and business assets. A reputation for being honest or having high integrity is priceless. It brings trust and openness, deeper relationships and more productive engagement. Trust is ‘truth delivered over time.’ It is hard to win but easy to lose. The sustained value of these assets cannot be overstated.4. Inquisitiveness and Learning
In sales, as in life, it is better to be interested than it is to be interesting. You need to be inquisitive and curious about what matters to others and less focused on what ‘interesting’ stuff you have to say. When you have earned the right—you can then be interesting.
If you are in the right job/company/industry, being interested in your customers’ business/industry/market comes easily to you. You have a natural passion for what you do, choosing to continuously self-improve. Without this passion to learn, you will find it hard to be naturally inquisitive. Then you’re possibly in the wrong job/company/ industry—and probably stuck in mediocrity.
5. Empathy and Perspective
Without empathy, you can’t possibly appreciate what’s important to your customer or your own support team. Remember the last time you complained about your marketing / product department, ‘I just don’t understand why we never seem to get ... [Insert leads, new features, competitive analysis, better pricing]. Usually when you start a sentence with ‘I just don’t under stand why ...’, it’s usually just that—you don’t understand. Arrogance is usually bred from ignorance, and that’s never pretty or productive. Consider the other Perspective. (This is the fundamental to Account Planning. Read this.)6. Vision: Innovation and Leadership
Ambition without vision is dangerous and usually counter-productive. Vision elevates ambition to a higher place, one where your insight, founded on innovative thinking and thought leadership (informed through inquisitiveness and learning), propels you to the front.7. Enterprise
You’ve got to work hard, really hard—no, really, really hard. Come up with the right strategy to fulfill your ambition, and then through your own initiative and resourcefulness, determine how you best execute your plan. Unless you have the requisite Commitment and Resilience you won’t reach the uncommon heights you’ve visualized in your ambition.
When you put these principles together—Ambition, Commitment, Honesty, Inquisitiveness, Empathy, Vision, Innovation, and Enterprise—you can choose to A.C.H.I.E.V.E. your goals.