The secret to sales success is a fine balance – sell what you love; love to sell.
I’ll just say it – I love being in sales. Especially high-tech sales, and even more, in Silicon Valley, where there is so much history and innovation. Among salespeople in high-tech, you often hear the “big win” stories, where being at the right place at the right time can lead to millions in commissions, club trips to exotic locations, and company-wide recognition.
However, just to qualify for being in a position where that can happen, you’d better be pretty darn good at what you do, love what you sell, and have the stomach to go the distance. And make no mistake – sales people at the upper echelons have amazing sales skills.
In that vein of continually improving upon your craft, there is so much good information on sales and how to improve your sales skills that it can be overwhelming. The trick is to have a mentor or coach, along with a commitment to continuous learning. In order to digest it all, you will need to chunk it down into manageable, bite-size pieces, and simply take it all in over time. Never stop learning, and practice, practice, practice! Sales is a never-ending process, and all the top sales professionals are continually learning and improving their craft.
This article is not about that.
There Are 2 Key Components To Sales Success
Two key components of being successful in sales that don’t get a lot of attention are to find something that you will love selling, and a place to do so that’s a good fit. Without a great offering and culture fit, it’ll be tough to hang in there long enough to materialize those life-changing deals. There are so many emerging technologies, so many hot, trendy start-ups as well as big, established tech companies, that it’s tempting to think after a short period of time that the grass is greener somewhere else.
Ask any sales manager. They will tell you that it’s not uncommon to see sales reps with a long series of one- to two-year stints at a job before they hop to the next hot trend. Heck, I’ve done it myself! But to take your game to the next level, you have to think in terms of the long game.
In all the interviews I do with sales executives and sales management on “The Sales Polish Podcast,” that’s a topic that comes up over and over again. Pull the rip cord on your job too soon and you stand to lose out on big money.
So this idea of long-term employment begs the question, “How does one choose the right company and culture fit in order to go the distance?” Well, just like qualifying a deal, it comes down to asking the right questions.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering making a move:
What market or technology do I really love and get excited about?
What are the hottest trends in high-tech, and which one am I most interested in?
Try attending conferences like DreamForce, RSA, SXSW to talk to a lot of vendors and get a high level overview. There is also an abundance of articles on new or evolving solutions on tech publications like Techcrunch or Wired.
Are the solutions I’m considering a “nice to have” or a “need to have”? Look for offerings that are a must for a business to run. With so many solutions competing for budget, you have to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and have an understanding of what their top KPI’s are and how your solution would help your prospect.
Who do I already know in the company I’m looking at and what can they tell me about the culture? LinkedIn is a great resource to find out if you know anyone who could give you the inside scoop.
What is the feedback for those companies on Glassdoor or other social media sites?
Who are the executives? What are their goals? Why did they choose the company? What are the challenges? What is the value of the solution? How is the company special?
What are the rewards?
Its’s so important to love the technology because that helps to fuel the “why” behind all your activities. When the day has been frustrating, when you feel tired, when you feel discouraged, it’s the why you’re doing what you’re doing that compels you to keep pushing. If you truly believe that your solution will help your prospect, then it’s easier to dig a little deeper to continue to take massive action to help you reach your goals.
And let’s face it, you will be talking about it A LOT. If you really are fascinated and appreciate all that went into the solution you are selling, that will come across in all your interactions, demos, and communications.
Think about the times you have talked to people who love their jobs and their companies – their energy is contagious. It’s fun to talk to them about what they do, you leave these people feeling inspired.
Now think about the alternative: How many times have you been bored to death during a demo? It’s known as “death by PowerPoint.” It inspires no one, but it’s so common, it’s sad. Is that how you really want to spend your precious time? Is that netting you the results you want? If not, it’s time to make a change.
I believe that how you feel about what you sell and the company you are selling for matters enough that if you don’t love it, you need to leave it for the right fit.
To be successful in sales over the long haul, there needs to be a balance between loving what you sell and being really great at selling.
By asking the right questions, along with being honest with yourself about what’s important to you, and finding the right fit, then you have an excellent chance of reaching your goals and being successful in your sales career.
I’m a Sales Development Rep at Bananatag, and I love what I sell! I sell the opportunity to improve communications among companies and their employees through email (a neat little email plugin with much more). In the process I get to learn about different companies and what they do, and I love every minute of it. Not only do I get to sell something that I love, I also get to live in it. Bananatag is all about great communications, employee engagement, and they help their employees grow and become the best in their field of work through development plans. Keep being awesome Bananatag!
I can say the same thing about Loopio 😉 I was a senior manager at KPMG and decided this year to try sales for a start up. It’s been an interesting, educational experience. Hoping to close some deals for 2017 🙂
I previously worked for a small company selling Electric Car Charging stations to commercial real estate. From my years as a teen, I knew I wanted to eventually find my way to clean-tech. I was pleased that in my late 20s I was able to be selling (for the first time in the field) a product I liked and in an industry I love.
I remember waking up eager to call customers, follow up on prospects, and envisioning the next deal I was closing.
And as the point that was made in the article, my prospects/customers sensed my enthusiasm and genuine passion for what I was doing. It made the conversation and sale that much more fluid.
Now being back in software sales for a big tech company, I can see the difference in doing what you love and working for a paycheck.