My first sales gig didn’t involve a laptop, desk, fancy CRM system, or an online platform. There were no sales metrics, KPIs, or quotas to be trued up at the end of each month. My first sales gig came at age 8 in my suburban Indiana neighborhood adjacent to a cornfield. The product I sold: homemade potpourri for 25 cents a container. My highest grossing day was a whopping $5 (this was the 90s after all)!
Though the products, means of communication, and business acumen have changed over the years, the hustle for true salespeople hasn't. That tenacity that drove young kids just like me to sell catalogued goods around their blocks is the exact same trait top salespeople today exude.
Merriam-Webster defines sales as the "operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods and services." What does this really mean, though? Sales certainly is mathematical with an operational and activity-based component, but at its core, it’s deeper than that. Sales is the ability to connect your product (whatever it may be) to an audience, and help guide them to an understanding of why they need it by creating value.
Prospecting is a word that makes even the most experienced salesperson cringe nowadays, but how is it any different than what we were doing as children?
For example, let's take my first entrepreneurial venture of potpourri-pushing:
Develop a target account list: neighbors within walking distance, friends of the family, and coworkers of parents.
Research: best time of day to drop by, likes/dislikes, and past buying trends.
Create a touch system: phone calls, knocking on doors, and going to parents’ work for a day to pester their coworkers.
Of course, 2017 deal sizes are a bit more than 25 cents, and we have better access to information than ever before. However, once it's broken down, the process remains the same:
Develop a target account list: based on ideal customer profile
Research: LinkedIn, Hoover’s, ZoomInfo
Create a touch system: emails, cold calls, InMails, voicemails
Navigating rejection is also paramount in ensuring continued success in sales. The inability to cope with rejection is one of the most substantial inhibitors to success in the industry.
Children have a reputation for seeming very brash, unapologetic, and persistent when they desire something, leaving little room for “no’s” to phase them. That willful and unwavering determination, while polished and perfected later in life, is necessary to creating the internal drive to be a successful salesperson. As salespeople, it is our responsibility to peel back the layers of “no” to understand exactly where our prospect’s true objection lies, rather than shrivel with fear when faced with adversity.
So, while new technology, trends, research, and tactics continue to emerge, remember that the sales hustle hasn’t changed.
Alexine Mudawar | Enterprise Business Development Representative, Yello
Image: Dealer Marketing Magazine