6 Rules for Succeeding in Your Sales Career

“I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger…” I often think about these lyrics from a Faces song that was written when I was five years old, and how it applies to my life now.

 As a college professor with over 18 years of business/sales experience, I’m amazed how many times I learned the sales process the hard way – by trial and error, and failure.

In hopes of sparing others the pain I endured, here are Six Rules for Succeeding in Your Sales Career:

1. Listen. This simple skill is the one that will serve you the best in your career and in life. The less you talk and the more you actively listen to your client’s needs (or your spouse, friends, etc.) the more happiness and business will come your way. Simple, but true.

2. Use the tools you are given. Tied into the theme of the lyrics above, I wish I would have had the sales tools that we teach through our sales courses here. When I attended the Dimensions of Professional Selling (DPS) training, I already had over 12 years of national account sales experience. I thought, “What can I learn from this?” I walked away thinking, “I wish I would have had this when I was 21.”

3. Understand your customer’s needs. Related to listening is the simple component of understanding what your customer needs and showing how your product can fill that gap. At the start of my sales career, I was focused on myself and my product and how great my product was. I wasn’t focused on the people who pay the bills and what was important to them.

4. Be proactive with customers. During the time I worked in ad sales, my main buyer with my largest customer rarely called. I learned that being one step ahead – calling them and updating them so they didn’t even have to ask – earned me a spot as their sole vendor and a trusted advisor.

5. Network, network, network. Every time you make a connection, either at industry events, socially or through business contacts, you have an opportunity to sell yourself or your product. There are touch points for potential business at all times. You must recognize them and act on these opportunities to build relationships.

6. WOW your customers. This sounds difficult, but it’s as simple as a hand written thank-you note, a birthday card, or over delivering on a promise (while not setting expectations too high). You’re there to make your clients look good and make their life easier. Simple gestures can turn into big WOWs.

There are certainly other critical components to being a successful sales person. But these six points provide an excellent starting point – whether you are new to sales or a twenty-year sales veteran.

By Devin Mason