I didn’t chose sales as a career. After graduating with a hard fought engineering degree, talking people into buying things didn’t seem like the best thing to do. My perception of sales was based on the door to door salesmen who’d come home – whether it was raining or blazing down – trying so hard to get me to spend my money on stuff I didn’t want or need.
The first few months in sales – computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software – didn’t exactly disprove that conception. My prospects were located in industrial regions far away from the city. I remember walking around from one company to another thinking “this is not what I studied for..”. I’ve been stuck in the rain 25 km away from home with 2 choices: 1) wait it out and get home dry but who knows when; 2) get home on time but soaking wet. My 2nd job was selling IT security training programs. Corporate training departments would schedule them over weekends so that resources were available during business hours. We were a 3 member team that took care of everything from sourcing trainers to sales to getting lunch served on training days. I’ve worked 7 days a week for over a year – when my customers were in my office, I couldn’t not be there.
Among everything these years taught me, the one that stands out is that success in sales is about taking ownership of everything. In my case, taking personal ownership. Success in sales is based on the ability to build and maintain relationships. Among most long lasting ones, you’ll find one person, if not both, making a constant effort to pay attention to and improve the life of the other. Ok, maybe that’s a little too dramatic, tone it down if you will, but there’s a truth in there. Whether among colleagues or between customers and you, your discipline, focus and ability to contribute to their success is the difference between success and failure.