The career path of a salesperson in the UK sales team at one of my previous employers, started on the “lead yourself” level. The ability to lead yourself drives sales excellence and is an important success factor to win in the marketplace.
As a self-leader, you are able to unleash your own potential, to explore, uncover and exceed the boundaries of your thinking and capabilities.
So, what does it require to lead yourself to outperform others and win in the marketplace?
It all starts with the ambition to outperform. To not let results of the past and/or the circumstances of today limit your ambitions. If you think you’ll never achieve your objectives, you WILL never achieve them. It requires an unconditional commitment to the ambition, followed by the definition of key milestones on the journey (Merlin method)
Think out of the box
You know the saying: “If you do what you always did, you will always get what you got”. So, in order to realise the milestones and achieve your ambition, you need to think outside of the box. Challenge your traditional thinking and use creative thinking techniques to explore new ways of doing business with your customers.
Show perseverance and resilience in the face of resistance or setbacks. Even if that customer turned you down 10 times, see his or her “no” as an encouragement to try again – maybe a different approach this time – but try again!
Consider that resistance or the setbacks merely as obstacles on the route to your ambition. Find new, creative ways to remove or go around those obstacles.
Question the Obvious
Managers do the things they have to do things right, leaders do the right things. Dare to question the obvious and always think: “can it be done better, different, easier”? And if so, go for it! It is better to try and fail, than failing to try. Constantly challenge your thinking and that of others, including your customer.
Customers pay your salary. Know what their needs and issues are and always think Triple Win. Create value for your customer, the consumer and for your organisation. Challenge with new ideas and proposals offering business opportunities for today and for tomorrow.
Don’t be like a politician “just kissing babies at election time” but nurture the relationship. Be there for good and for bad times, be bold and honest, telling them what is and what is not possible.
Be a trusted consultant to your customers and give them a reason to do business with you.
Don’t let your guard down, and try to make sure your execution is impeccable. Imagine every visit is a golden opportunity for your company and prepare and execute as such. Always plan and prepare your customer visits and conversations. Follow world class selling and negotiation processes that drive results and practice, practice, practice.
Never Stop Learning
Professional sportspeople train every day to become better every day, whereas many sales professionals simply repeat the same trick they learned at the start of their career.
Stay ahead of the pack and learn, review, improve, adapt to the everchanging circumstances. Seek coaching and feedback from peers and managers, yes even from customers.
The beauty of leading yourself is that it is entirely in your hands. If you have the will, you can learn the skill and remove any hill. Good luck!