On occasion we get asked, “What one piece of advice would you give a person who has just accepted his or her first sales position?” That is truly an unfair question. How do you boil down the essence of sales leadership into one slice of a whole pie? However, that question is worth an answer. Our best response would be, “Engage a coach.” Why? Because partnering with a sales coach can build a firm foundation to use as a springboard towards success.
We would expect a coach to help you leverage the following:
- Define measurable goals: Select several meaningful one, three, and five-year goals that focus on financial targets and personal growth. Without measurable goals you won’t know the direction you’re headed or whether you’ve arrived at your destination. People without defined goals typically meander and become disappointed in their lack of results.
- Focus on a vertical market: Good sales people are not all things to all customers. What area are you most passionate? Join an association in that market and become the “go to” expert. Consider certification or accreditation to bolster your expertise. Make sure to understand the emerging trends and have a plan to take advantage of the opportunities and to navigate through the threats.
- Understand your customers: Ask powerful questions of your customers so you clearly understand their needs and what keeps them up at night. Be the solution seeker and problem-solver by offering answers that address their needs. Customers partner with sales people who create and offer value.
- Know your competition: Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Strategize how you can navigate the competitive landscape to take advantage of their weaknesses by driving on your strengths.
- Build trust among your customers and industry colleagues: People do not do business with others whom they don’t trust unless there are no other options. Make decisions and exhibit behaviors that garnish trust.
- Leverage social media: Set up a LinkedIn profile that reflects who you are and what you offer. Share and publish articles that are relevant to your customers. Make sure your public Facebook represents what you want customers to know about you. Be sure to clean up your social media of any “unwanted” posts.
- Establish a personal brand: When your name is mentioned in industry circles, what one phrase would you want to come to mind: “gets it done,” “always looks for the win-win,” or “sales leadership expert.” Develop a personal brand based on your best assets.
- Grow your leadership: Learn from the best, get a mentor, and practice leadership. One of the most powerful annual leadership conferences we attend is Global Leadership Summit (https://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership). Strong leadership will not only build your sales it will build your life.
- Become a servant leader: Give of your time, talents, and treasures without expecting anything in return. When you do, don’t be surprised how people will respond to you. People will want to spend time with you, recommend you, and help you be successful.
And last, but not least, you can always benefit by going back to school to…
- Relearn your ABC’s (Always Be Connecting): Selling is about connecting and one person saying “yes” to another. People rarely say “yes” to people whom they don’t like or trust. Spend time with your customers in casual settings getting to know them on both a professional and personal level. Your calendar should be populated with customer lunch dates.
Every seasoned salesperson has one or two special secrets of the trade that may have contributed to their success; however, these fundamental strategies will build a solid sales career over a lifetime. Although every salesperson can try to implement these practices on their own, most would benefit from having a sales coach who can keep them accountable.
About the Authors:
Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in sales and new business development. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops on current business needs. She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.
Darin Dillon is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), 30+ year business development veteran, and active leader in the electronic security and integrated systems industry. As a business leader, he has a passion for developing long-term customer partnerships and providing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies across many vertical markets. He can be reached at email@example.com or 713.204.7035.