“The most successful people are the ones that become experts in their field. What measures can a salesperson take to become experts in their craft? Any ideas?”
My colleague, Don F. Perkins of Mindmulch, posed this question to our Tribe the other day. And it’s a good question that needs to be asked. Constantly. My friend and colleague, Bob Terson, was the first blog responder to this question. Here’s my take on this subject.
- Define your Sales Sweet Spot. The most successful folks in any endeavor understand what they do best, and what they do not do best. What kind of selling do you enjoy the most? Is there a particular industry or customer type who fascinates you and brings out your Sales Sweet Spot? Some of us are customer retention specialists. Some of us enjoy choreographing big deals with lots of players and moving parts. Others prefer selling commodities or retail. Still others love working with manufacturing and high-tech companies full of engineers. You get it. Define your Sales Sweet Spot.
- Align yourself with people who inspire you to do your best. Identify the best in your field and seek them out. Contact them, interview them, invite them to speak to your organization, read their books, blogs, profiles and tell them what you think about their writing. We aren’t writing great content to please ourselves! We do this for people just like you, who want to be more than the status quo.
- Understand why you are good at your sweet spot stuff. That means seeing yourself the way you really are. It means not caving in to self-doubt and the second-hand opinions. Speak with your sweet spot customers and colleagues: they really do see the relevant value you bring to them. Remember that scene from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where Indy has to take that first step across a seemingly bridgeless abyss to reach the Crusader who guards the Holy Grail? Take that leap of faith with yourself. What you seek across that abyss is YOU. I guarantee you will find your Sweet Spot Self.
- Read sales books and sign up for sales blogs A common denominator across all sales experts is that we are lifelong learners. Jill Konrath’s Selling to BIG Companies and SNAP Selling are my personal sales bibles. Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup is a fantastic read for sales folks who want to cross-train their brain (e.g., use the left side of that great brain of yours). Dixon and Adamson’s The Challenger Sale , Harry Beckwith’s Selling The Invisible , and Bob Burg’s Endless Referrals are on my book shelf, as is Sam Richter’s Take The Cold Out of Cold Calling. Mark Hunter’s High-Profit Selling , Andy Paul’s Zero-Time Selling, and Leanne Hoagland-Smith’s be The Red Jacket in a sea of grey suits offer different looks at the sales process. My own book, Do YOU Mean Business? can make a difference in working with, for or selling to technically-oriented companies. My colleagues Robert Terson and Mike Weinberg are coming out with books this Fall and you can bet I will be taking a look at their wisdom. Start reading.
- You become a Sales Expert by selling within your value system. Becoming a sales expert involves more than just developing the process, discipline and mindset that’s needed to make those calls, see those customers and give those presentations. Just as you took a good look at yourself, also understand what your Core Personal Values are. Mine are trustworthiness, respect, integrity and ethical behavior. My customers know my value system from the get-go. Be accountable for your actions and your professional growth. You are a work in progress. The more you put into perfecting your craft, the better you become, over time.
There’s no cookbook approach to achieving your Sales Sweet Spot. There is, however, a personal and professional journey that is well worth the effort you put in.
What else would you add to this list?