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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Your 7 Secrets for a Successful Sales Career

secrets to successful sales careerEditor's Note: This post was originally published on Marketo.com.

Sales can be the perfect place to develop a skillset in a constantly evolving industry where you can earn a great living. However, it’s hardly a cakewalk.

A Harvard Business Review article on salesperson attrition notes that businesses can expect turnover rates of up to 27%. That’s mainly because sales is hard (though not impossible). In other words, plan to give up easy street for an enormous opportunity.

What makes sales so tough, especially for newbies? Many companies have an onboarding program followed by minimal guidance. From that point, business executives expect employees to hit the ground running, and that can be a shock to fresh sales talent.

Honestly, that’s not such a bad thing. After all, you’re the only person responsible for your ultimate success. The sooner you accept that reality, the faster you’ll increase your proficiency and numbers.

Selling Tips from the Pro Level

Of course, you shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Jump-start your sales career with a few tried-and-true hints:

1. Demonstrate Your Hunger

If you’re not the first person in the office in the morning and the last to lock up, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Being proactive and available, puts you front and center from day one. It shows you’re willing to put in the effort to support your employer’s goals.

Don’t just sit at your desk, though. Keep learning day by day. Record what you discover, and try different techniques. Above all else, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll find a softer landing when you misstep as a newcomer rather than a sales veteran.

2. Outwork Everyone, Including Your Boss

If you want to be a star, you have to act like one—even if you haven’t sold anything. Dress well, and stay busy. At the same time, stay patient, and foster connections with qualified leads. Yes, you want to make your numbers, but don’t fall into the trap of a forced sale that leads to short-term gain but long-term loss.

Sales is all about personal connection. It doesn’t come overnight, nor should it. Build value with your prospects instead of pushing them to a “yes” before it makes sense. However, be certain to close when the time is right.

3. Become the Subject Matter Expert

Experts get tons of questions, so position yourself to know everything you can about both your industry and your clients’ fields. Then, when you speak with others, you can discuss their problems from a position of knowledge, authority, and authenticity.

As you gain traction as a thought leader, you’ll find that even people who didn’t sign on at first still stay in touch. Eventually, they might need your help or know someone else who does. Never underestimate the power of being a font of information; just don’t fall into the know-it-all category.

4. Plan Out Your Goals

Have some personal objectives floating around your head? Turn them into concrete goals by writing them in a document. Then, construct a plan to make those goals come true. The more mapped out your direction is, the more likely you are to reach your destination.

Let’s say you want to create a list of high-quality leads; you’ll need to set up a targeted prospecting list that you can systematically nurture. With consistency, your list will grow and morph into deeper connections based on your unique selling proposition. You’ll have not only your list of leads but also a wealth of resources.

5. Treat Customers like Gold

Appointments are your chance to convert a maybe into a yes. But you won’t get your foot in the door until you show consideration for your possible clients. For example, find out your prospects’ preferred way to stay in touch, whether that’s by telephone, text, emails, or in-person meetings. Always use that communication channel unless it’s not feasible.

Additionally, pay attention to body language and verbal cues. Often, salespeople forget to listen and wind up annoying prospects. If you have trouble understanding when someone wants to end a discussion or gathering, take a course to beef up your emotional intelligence.

6. Master the Face-to-Face Appointment

Early in your career, you might be on the phone quite a bit more than sitting in a prospect’s conference room. But if you continue to grow in sales, you can expect to have more responsibilities that include face-to-face appointments.

To improve your skill set in this arena, take notes after every in-person meeting. Jot down lessons learned and areas for improvement. That way, if you progress into an account manager position and have to work with others on developing sales campaigns and strategies (rather than hard sales), you’ll feel at ease.

7. Avoid the Time Suck of Office Drama

You’re at work to work, so keep track of your tongue. Gossiping with colleagues might give you a temporary good feeling, but it’s a bad move. Instead of giving in to the soap opera at the break room coffee bar, get back to your desk.

Above all else, be kind and friendly to colleagues. Bad-mouthing a coworker pits you against them, and that could lead to workplace struggles. Build allies, not bad blood.

Wondering whether being in sales can actually be enjoyable? Absolutely! Success is fun, and there’s no shortage of excitement when you are crushing it.

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