I’ve always said that selling is the ultimate entrepreneurial career. In which other line of work can an individual dictate their own income adjustments, thus eliminating the need for cost-of-living raises. (I once had a sales manager who used that very line, telling us “I want every person on this team to give themselves a 20% raise this year!”).
Even when paid a salary, a salesperson can greatly enhance their value to their company, and even to other companies in their market, by demonstrating an intrinsic value above and beyond others their contemporaries. Because the sales profession generates income for the company, those who do it more efficiently and effectively make themselves valuable not only to their employer, but in an economy that craves their talents.
I’ve met with sales professionals in scores of industries, from highly technical to service and retail, and one commonality applies to all of them. The salespeople who are the top 10% earners conduct themselves in a very specific manner. It can best be described as operating as though they were in business for themselves.
A successful, independent businessperson is going to do everything they can to secure new, profitable business for their company. They’ll avoid poor price decisions that could affect maintaining company overhead, including equipment costs and payroll, to profitability that provides them with cash flow to remain fiscally healthy.
In general, these ‘Top 10% Earners’ live by these two rules:
Rule #1: Operate as ‘You, Incorporated’ One of the greatest skills a salesperson can learn is to think, look and act like an independent business. No, this doesn’t mean making your own rules! It means that you take into consideration all aspects of selling, including:
If, in your situation, you have the latitude to negotiate pricing and terms, avoid thinking low price over profitability. Your employers profit is what keeps the company strong.
A customer, while not always openly willing to pay more for it, will always prefer to work with a supplier that is financially strong over one that makes deals and lives day to day.
Problems happen. Even to the Top 10%. The difference appears to be that this group finds problems early, making them far easier to deal with. And that can only be done through superior communication. They have lines of communication with the customers front line people, those who are affected first by the product or service being supplied. So, if there IS a problem, they can fix it early. They almost seem to know what’s happening with their customers before the customer does! Now that’s communication!
3) Cash Flow
I was fortunate in that, in my first outside sales position, I was paid commission on revenues collected. ‘Fortunate, ’ you say? Yes. Not because I’m a sucker for difficult tasks, but because developing skills for handing the task made me a better salesperson. Our ‘paid-on-collection’ was a system that worked well in that situation. It forced me to keep an eye on my customers’ payment habits. If an account began to ‘age, ’ it was my duty to put on the diplomats gloves and address the issue.
You might not be in that position, but, to be a Top 10%’er, it’s important to be passionate about your employers’ cash flow. Those who can see the big picture, and step in to assist their accounting office, add incredible value to their position.
Rule #2: Feed Your Business
My first employer gave those of us on the sales team a expense account. Very meager, but an expense account, nonetheless. The habit we created among the staff was that, if an expense was worth it, and wouldn’t tap too much of the account, we’d spend it. , A small client lunch here, a tank of gasoline there. Beyond that, if it wasn’t covered, it wasn’t spent. And that was a huge mistake.
Professional salespeople should create an annual Business Plan that details their goals for the year, steps necessary to achieve those goals, plus a ‘reinvestment’ statement, estimating revenue that will be put back into their business to feed it’s growth. A percentage of your estimate income should be budgeted to be re-spent on clothing, skill-building, health and fitness and client incidentals. Have you ever known a company to grow successfully without spending on itself?
Sales is unique in many respects. The rewards can be incredible. The professionals I’ve met who see themselves as business owners, vs. having a job, are either in the Top 10%, or on their way.
One of America’s hottest sales trainers, Joe Guertin has 25 years of outside sales experience, specializing in new business and customer relationship development. As a sought-after speaker, and consultant, Joe has worked with thousands of salespeople, managers and business principals, targeting specific areas of development, including internal sales systems, customer development strategies and team skill-building. His firm, The Guertin Group, conducts customized corporate sales training, both live and online.
Visit The Guertin Group at http://www.guertingroup.com to receive his monthly ezine newsletter. Joe can be reached at 414-762-2450, or firstname.lastname@example.org