Monday, July 5, 2010

Professional Salesperson? Like a Doctor?

My now 83 year-old father once told me, "Go to school and become a professional.  You know, like a doctor or a lawyer. If you can't do that, you'll end up becoming a salesperson."  Once at the pinnacle of the sales insurance industry (1970-1990), my father's advice seems to hover over my life as if he had reincarnated Nostradamus.  After more than 20 years of selling and managing salespeople in the technology industry, meeting with thousands of customers across almost every industry and producing an income that only 3% of salespeople foster, I still require a daily dose of meditation on the thought of being a Professional Salesperson.

Like most salespeople, I did not plan for a career in sales.  I took the "physician highway," achieved an undergraduate degree in biology and spent my parents well earned money attending medical school in the midwest.  My sales career started as one of necessity when the rigors of medical school got in the way of rock and roll, college-life and a large dose of growing-up.  Like many of us, I quickly became charmed with the idea that "simple conversation" and product-knowledge created a SALES ARGUMENT, one of the basic tennants of all salespeople.  What I didn't realize was that charm doesn't produce reliable sales results.

Unlike other careers, salespeople have a choice:  1) Sell as a means to an end;  2) Sell as a passionate experience that drives us to excel.  Which one are you?  If compared to a physican or attorney (less the degree which the industry has frowned upon since time began), these professionals all share common traits:
  • Professional Salespeople are passionate.  They sell what they love. 
  • Professional Salespeople want to get better at what they do.  They train.  They seek advice.  They recreate themselves often.
  • Professional Salespeople hold themselves to a standard well above average.  They desire excellence.
  • Professional Salespeople work harder than they have to.  They push the bar higher.
  • Professional Salespeople know their product/service/company COLD.
  • Professional Salespeople plan for their success.  They set goals and plans.  They measure results.
  • Professional Salespeople create an environment in which the customer, their employer and themselves create a "golden triangle" of success.  There are no losers.
Well, Dad, while you're unlikely to see this posting, I will always know that there are Professional Salespeople out there.  Each day, while driving to see the next customer, I will re-affirm that although I'm not the doctor or lawyer, I am a true professional.

1 comment:

  1. Being a professional salesman is a noble profession. We make more than doctors and have a much more free life!