How do you succeed in sales? Thomas Ray Crowel, sales expert and the author of Simple Selling: Common Sense That Guarantees Your Success, declared, “Success in sales is the result of discipline, dedication, and sacrifice.”
I doubt anyone would argue much with that statement. But how do you put that statement into action? That is, exactly how do you make “discipline, dedication, and sacrifice” work for your company?
I’ve got a fair amount of sales know-how: I have extensive experience as a sales professional, and I work hard to keep up to date on all the latest news, research, and developments in the sales world. With a good memory of the road behind me and an ear to the ground so I’m among the first to know what’s coming down the road in front of me, I can offer five concrete suggestions for building (and maintaining) a strong sales environment at your organization.
1. “Time spent on hiring is time well spent.”
Robert Half, founder of HR consulting firm Robert Half International
If you want any initiative, policy, or organization to succeed, take the time to root it in a solid foundation. For a company focused on sales, effective salespeople form the foundation. If you hire the right people from the beginning—people who want to be part of a growing company and share in its success—you lay the groundwork for future growth and success
2. “If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it, you almost don’t have to manage them.”
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
People want to succeed at their jobs, especially when that success is measured in personal financial gain. There’s nothing wrong with that; after all, people take jobs mostly to make a living, right? By providing an environment in which employees can fulfill (and perhaps even go beyond) their duties, and then linking some of their compensation to company performance, you provide a strong incentive for people to do their jobs—and to do them well. The success of the company translates to the success of the employees, and when the company’s success hinges on strong sales, a good sales team will rise to the occasion, and both they and the company will come out ahead.
3. “Mediocre products with great sales teams always beat great products with mediocre sales teams.”
Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group
The old adage claims that “great salespeople are born, not made.” But more and more research indicates that this just isn’t true. Great salespeople are, for the most part, made. Hiring managers tell many tales of hiring supposed “born talents” who turned out to be lousy salespeople and just as many stories of taking a chance on trainable people and watching them blossom into power sellers.
Savvy hiring managers recognize that, although particular personalities or inherent talent may give some people an edge, their teachability—that is, their ability and desire to learn and hone new skills—is what makes them succeed. So once you bring people on board, invest in them through training, coaching, and more training. Make sure everyone in the organization understands that learning and mastering certain skills will make them and their organization stronger and more successful.
4. “Sales pays for the company. Employees who don’t ‘get’ that are part of the problem.”
Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group
Part of “getting” sales is recognizing its importance for the organization’s health and being willing to work hard not only to do sales well but also to learn to do it better. Anyone who doesn’t “get” this isn’t an asset to the company (and may actually harm it). Even with the best hiring practices in place, however, some bad apples will slip through the cracks, so learn to identify bad hires quickly and cut them loose. Many companies try to solve employee problems with training, and although training may indeed achieve the desired result, it doesn’t always work. In fact, if the employee simply doesn’t fit with your culture, you’re better off cutting your losses and parting company before his or her performance or attitude negatively affects the rest of the organization.
5. “Sales success comes after you stretch yourself past your limits on a daily basis.”
Omar Periu, nationally renowned sales trainer and author of Investigative Selling
Pay close attention to those who achieve success by pushing themselves past their limits and going the extra mile … and to those who fall short of success by failing to fulfill their responsibilities. Maintain accountability at all company levels by celebrating the wins and addressing the failures.
Sales success depends on performance at multiple levels. When an individual salesperson performs well, he or she succeeds. And when a company’s salespeople succeed, the company benefits overall. In order to create and maintain this win-win situation, take steps to build an environment that promotes (and rewards) the exercise of “discipline, dedication, and sacrifice.