Building a Foundation for a Successful Career in Sales
We often hear the saying, “you are a natural-born salesperson.” There indeed are those that have a natural ability to communicate and influence someone’s decision. However, like any profession or any skill set, natural ability by itself is rarely enough to succeed. You need to be educated in the process of learning to be a salesperson to have a chance to be truly great at your career.
Born to Sell
Various personality profile tests can tell whether a person is likely to be good at sales or not. Through a series of questions, the tests look at characteristics such as if the person is extroverted or introverted. It looks at their abilities to accept rejection and move forward, regardless. However, I have also known salespeople that have scored low in these profile tests but who have still enjoyed success.
Natural Talent vs. Learned
When I coached kids in baseball and basketball, I could easily see who had natural talent. But there were also kids who did well despite not having natural talent. They worked hard and found a way to play well. Over the years of coaching, I’ve witnessed the naturally talented kids perform worse as they got older. Although they had strong eye and hand coordination, they never built on top of their foundation of skills.
In sales (as in life) we are constantly building layers upon layers of knowledge, passed down from our daily life experiences. If you are in sales and are successful, over a long period you have developed a strong set of skills that is based upon a foundation of past experiences that have helped you get to where you are today.
Learning from The Best
In my own experience, I was born with natural sales and communication skills. But those skills were honed by spending time with my dad, who was a traveling salesperson. Every summer, my dad took me across the state to visit his customers, while working to build new business leads. My dad was all about over-servicing his clients. He was always available to them—in ways that today would seem so far-fetched. He was in the foodservice trade and he would often leave early to work on someone’s machine or help someone in the warehouse unload. When my dad came to a client, he was always welcomed and was always treated like a friend that came to visit. He was trusted.
I learned the negative impact of not having a steady stream of existing clients, and the importance of always strengthening your relationships with existing clientele, as well as the importance of working to add new customers daily. My dad may not have realized this, but by taking me with him on his customer visits, he had built my foundation for success.
A solid sales foundation can be built in several ways. For those who were fortunate enough to attend the Xerox or the Lanier copier sales training courses, I would hire you today.
An Education in Sales
Xerox Professional Selling Skills program was recognized globally across all industries as the sales training gold standard. These courses were set up to not only get results but to build long-term client relationships. Some salespeople may have learned to sell because they had no other way to earn a living. They go door-to-door and call hundreds of people a day until they are successful in selling something. These salespeople are disciplined in their practice because if they didn’t sell, they didn’t eat.
For those of you that are succeeding in sales, I ask you to pass your knowledge onto others. Explain to them how you got to where you are and what you are doing to stay there. These future salespeople will help build companies better if they have a strong foundation to launch their careers.
—Hans Hansson, Starboard Commercial/TCN Worldwide