sales professional

What one thing do Mark Cuban, Howard Schultz, and Warren Buffet all have in common? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not being billionaires or CEOs. Besides being 3 of the most successful (and richest) men of all time, these 3 men all started their careers in sales.

In fact, more billionaires started in sales than in any other profession. From Samuel Palmisano at IBM to Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec, According to a study done by recruitment agency Aaron Wallis, of the 53 billionaires who did not inherit their wealth, 10 of them or around 20% started in sales. As sales move more and more online and Amazon eats everything, salesmen are being replaced more and more by deal closing computers.  

Take a second to think about the last time you went to a store and dealt with a salesperson? My guess is it’s been awhile. And it looks more and more likely that most of the next generation will not get the chance to do real face-to-face “Look em in the eye” sales.

While the sales process is changing and moving online, I think it’s important to continue to pass on some of the lessons that one would learn in face to face sales. These are lessons that will ultimately make you successful in life whether you decide to build the next Facebook or just run your own landscaping business.

Here are 3 Lessons From Sales That Will Make You A Success in Life:

1. Grit

One of the harsh truths about life is that rejection happens. It happens in business, it happens in dating and it happens socially.

Grit, as popularized by the book of the same title by Penn professor Angela Duckworth, is courage and resolve of character. Until rather recently many believed that grit was a trait you either had or didn’t have, but Duckworth’s book showed how that sort of tenacity can be actively cultivated.

I can almost guarantee that no successful salesman has ever read Grit. They don’t need to because sales forces you to develop tough skin and persistence. Salespeople face rejection about 90% of the time. Even the best “closers” in the world still only make a sale about a third of the time. That means they fail 66% of the time. Another way to say it is that sales forces you to become gritty.

“Learn to keep going even when things are difficult, even when we have our doubts. At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” – Angela Duckworth

2. Listening

When most people think of a salesman, they conjure an image of a fast-talking smooth schmoozer. But that image is only one type of salesman and often an ineffective one at that. The best salesmen in the world are amazing listeners. But listening doesn’t just make you an incredible salesman, there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest it also makes you a more effective leader as well.

Listening makes people feel cared about and valuable. It also helps you focus in on what they REALLY want and how you can help them get it. Whether you want to solve conflicts with your significant other or rise up the corporate ladder, listening will get you there faster than talking.

3. Being Internally Motivated

Another common misconception about successful salesmen is that they are motivated by things like bonuses, competition, and money. While there are some sales professionals who need a contest or $100 bonus at the end of the day to get themselves jacked up, the best salesmen (and women) I ever worked with were internally motivated.

As I mentioned earlier, rejection happens to salespeople a lot. Those that are externally motivated are going to do great when things are going well. But when they are in the midst of no sales after making 100 calls, they would have trouble finding the motivation to pick up the phone. On the other hand, the best salespeople I worked with were always motivated because they found motivation not in the success of a sales call but internally.

“I think true success is intrinsic… It’s love. It’s kindness. It’s community.” – Tom Shadyac

They found ways to be motivated to take action even when they didn’t feel like it. Whether they’re making 100 calls in a day or working on your social media marketing, they have to find it within themselves to keep on pushing forward.

A sales career has laid the foundation for success for countless men and women across the globe. These days fewer and fewer things are sold in person, we’re pretty much down to cars and houses and even those sales processes have changed entirely due to the internet.

It’s not hard to imagine a future without salespeople, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t benefit from the 3 timeless success lessons presented here today.

Which one of these 3 lessons resonated with you most? Let us know below!

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