Have you ever tested yourself?
I mean really tested yourself where you pushed your limits so much you can see what you’re made of? Have you ever felt the fear that comes from doing something that permanently alters your life and tests your courage, strength, and faith?
Well, that’s what I’m going through now.
You see, I’ve been studying sales and marketing for the past 16 years. I’ve been helping businesses of all sizes, in multiple industries, find and attract their target prospects and convert them into customers. I was successful at it, but in the back of my mind I felt like a charlatan. I know marketing, and I know I know marketing, but direct sales was always my weak spot.
So I looked for a sales oriented company in the digital marketing space that had a good offering and found one. It took about thirty calls, some devious LinkedIn research, making friends with an employee and then asking them for favors to land a job as a business development executive. The role: a hunter for new business.
As I have done several other times in my life, I jumped at the opportunity. The only problem, the job is in Denver.
So, I sidelined my business, sold my house and moved my family from Atlanta to Denver to “learn to sell.”
I’ll be honest, for the first two weeks I was in shock. The third week was spent wondering what the hell I just did, but the fourth week I remembered my 16 years of training and why I was here.
In order to make the money I want to make, I need to make 25 cold phone calls a day and walk into 20 businesses in order to set appointments.
They want me to set 2 appointment a day. It’s a big ask.
After six weeks in the field, I’ve only landed six appointments – but I made three sales. Those three sales have me on target for the quarter.
The really interesting bit is that those six appointments and the three subsequent sales all took place within the last two weeks. When I compare where I was six weeks ago to where I am now, the difference in both my abilities and my internal state are like night and day.
I tell you all this because as a new salesperson in a new territory you will go through a similar upheaval in your life before you get it together or fail. You don’t have to move your family halfway across the country to experience this feeling. All you really have to do is go into sales.
I’ve always said sales is the hardest job there is. Digging ditches isn’t fun, construction is exhausting, running a company is intense – but these jobs don’t make you question your worth as a human and second guess your life choices like sales does.
Sales is tough! The only thing helping me get going is the fact I know what has to be done because I’ve been telling other people what to do for 16 years.
Well, I finally put my money where my mouth is, and because of it I’ve learned some extremely valuable lessons, especially about how to sell during your first month in the field.
I want to share the most valuable lessons of the past 6 weeks here. If you take this advice as a new salesperson you will be set up for a long, highly successful career.
Prepare for tomorrow, tonight
This may seem obvious, but if you try to prepare for the day in the morning, you are wasting selling time. Selling time is the most valuable time you have. If you aren’t getting in front of prospects during selling time you are shooting yourself in the foot and hurting your chances of success.
I use Google maps to plan out my day. I find the businesses I will visit and those I will call – then all I have to do the next day is visit them and call them and track them with my CRM (Insightly). It turns real life sales into a Parker Brothers game.
You know what’s important about preparing so much that it becomes a game?
Games are fun, and are made to be won. This game mentality helps us keep the right perspective on our sales efforts and is extremely motivating.
The secret of this is really in the fact that you can prepare to feel good about what you’re doing tomorrow, tonight. If you wait until tomorrow morning to plan your day, what happens when you wake up in a bad mood and don’t feel like doing anything?
Your mind will want to keep you from doing what you need to be doing. Don’t let it!
Just make the call
Most the time you don’t need to prepare in order to make the call or knock the door. In fact, preparation can destroy the call as well as waste your time.
As an Internet marketing salesperson, if I do research, I’ll find many things I can point to as evidence that a business owner sucks at marketing. I just don’t have the tact necessary to tell them in a friendly, non infuriating way however. So, the time I spend researching them is wasted.
I learned that time is money and I can’t waste it. So I just make the call.
Here’s another reason why this is so important: you can’t give people pain, you can only uncover it.
I’ve seen salespeople become masterful in their sales career and become so good that they can make someone who has no problems or issues whatsoever find their pain and realize that the only way to salve it is by purchasing the product. But it’s rare, because people typically think, “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it.” They just stick with the status quo.
As a new salesperson, forget about investing your time and effort in convincing someone they should have a pain. Just find the people who already have pain. That’s the low hanging fruit!
Start there. You’ll learn over time how to get more appointments and make more sales. Just commit to prospecting for a certain number of hours each day and consistently do it every day.
There is no plan B
When you decided to be a salesperson, you committed yourself to calling on and meeting thousands of strangers and starting up conversations for the sole purpose of making a sale.
That’s scares the shit out of some people.
It’s actually quite fun when you get the hang of it, but that will not happen until you get over being scared shitless. The only way you’re going to do that, is to commit to it. There are no other options, you have to be successful.
Once you realize this, and adopt this attitude, you are headed for success. If you don’t, and you weigh your options for escape, you’re done as a salesperson.
Feel free to insert your favorite “burn the bridges,” or “damn the torpedoes” story here.
I’m sure you’ve heard the same five stories over and over again like I have, so I’ll save you the time of reading it again.
Just don’t make the mistake of ignoring the message because it’s as old is Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the red nose reindeer during the holidays. Commit to being successful.
Master your attitude
There’s a learning curve to everything.
The first week of selling I was stiff and unpracticed. Plus, I just changed everything about my life. So, I wasn’t giving the impression you need to give in order to sell.
I’m not really sure how I was coming off to people those first couple of weeks because I didn’t have my script down and I couldn’t get into a flow. Worst of all, I wasn’t getting any conversations or appointments.
I couldn’t figure out what was wrong because I thought I had a good grasp on what I needed to do each day, I just wasn’t getting the results.
That’s when the above three lessons (prepare for tomorrow, tonight; just make the call; and there is no plan B) started to solidify in my mind and I got happy.
And that’s when I started having a lot more fun, people started opening up to me, inviting me in, and I started making sales.
Now there’s something to be said about the fact that commitment, preparation, and a bias towards action makes me happy and is actually motivating to me. It’s unusual for me.
I’ve always had enough business from prospecting, referrals and Internet searches. At no point in my life before had I ever had to face the direct impact of success or failure so strongly. If I don’t perform, I lose everything. I’ve never had such a visceral feeling of motivation before – of needing to do something, feeling concern over it, and actually feeling better once it was done.
In the past three weeks I realized it was up to me to choose success or failure. It’s easier to choose failure when you have an option. But when you have no other options, everything becomes clear. You instantly know what you have to do to be a success – and it’s liberating.
Do, or do not, there is no try ~ Yoda
It’s my attitude, my friendly demeanor, and my big smile that gets people comfortable and talking and brings in the sales.
If you want to work on becoming the best salesperson you can be, the first thing you should get really good at is being friendly, likable, and interesting. Be a personality, be happy, and be enthusiastic.
The time it requires to attain success is dictated by your attitude. Work on that first.
Once you get past the fear stage, sales is the best job there is. You get to meet a lot of people, every day is different, you get to know your town and the people who live there, you’re your own boss, and you get to talk for a living.
The sooner you realize how much fun it can actually be, the sooner you can start making a lot of money!