This column is by Steli Efti, Co-Founder & CEO, Close.io
What can you do to become a master at sales? How can you fast-forward your process to becoming a true master of the craft?
First of all, realize that there’s no “graduation” in sales. You’re not studying x number of years until your get your degree. There’s no such thing as a ‘Dr. of sales’ because you can never stop learning.
Becoming the best sales person you can be requires perpetual practice. You need to study the game mentally, physically and emotionally pretty much every single day of your life.
When you give sales presentations and pitches, record yourself. Review the recordings afterwards, and study them just like professional athletes watch videos of themselves.
Analyse the non-verbal elements (your tonality, the speed and rhythm of your speech, your vocal inflection, your body language and facial expressions) and the actual words you speak.
Make this kind of self-analysis a regular habit. Review recordings right away after you’ve given a presentation, or at least within a day or two. You want the event be fresh on your mind, so the insights will have more of an impact.
Study yourself first before you study others. You’ll find the biggest opportunities to improve your sales game inside yourself.
Read to succeed
I personally haven’t read a book until it was 16 years old. But I’ve read hundreds of books since, and attribute much of my success to applying ideas I got out of books in my own life.
Discover and cultivate the joy of reading — be it books, blogs, articles or answers on Quora. There’s so much great sales material available online — make use of it.
Reading isn’t a requirement for success — there are lots of very successful people, like my friend Gary Vaynerchuk, who just don’t read books, and there are a lot of unsuccessful booklovers. But if you’re looking for ways to learn, you should learn in all modalities, and the largest depository of knowledge about sales is still the written word.
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” –Oscar Wilde
Widen your horizon
If you’re doing startup sales, don’t just learn how to sell as a startup — learn how sales works in different fields.
Learn from used car salesmen, learn from CEOs, learn from investment bankers, learn from your competitors, learn from hot dog vendors, learn from store clerks, learn from tie-salesmen, learn from venture capitalists,learn from realtors, learn from waiters in restaurants, learn from teenagers helping out in their dad’s liquor store, learn from kids with lemonade stands, learn from an old lady in Thailand selling fruits.
We’re always being sold to, and we’re always selling something. Opening your eyes to all of these “deals” being made left and right and fine-tuning your antennas is a huge, and often overlooked, opportunity to turn yourself into a “natural born sales person”.
Attend workshops, seminars & events
Visit events and meetups for sales people.
Seminars are often great opportunities to learn a lot in a couple of very focused, intense days, and network with others.
Learn from mentors
Look for people who have done what you want to do, have gone where you want to go, and are willing to provide some guidance for your journey.
Be selective about choosing your mentor though. Don’t think that just because someone has made it big they’ll be able to provide you good advice.Be coachable, but still think for yourself and own your decisions.
Network with peers
Don’t just look for mentors who are one or two steps ahead of you, but also build your own peer network or mastermind group. Find people who are in a similar position like you, and regularly meet up to share ideas, insights and challenges.
These kinds of exchanges can be tremendously valuable — not just because of the strategies and tactics you’ll learn, but also for managing your own psychology, evolving as a sales person-ality and forging long-term alliances.
Start teaching sales
No matter at what stage you’re at in your sales career — start teaching others! There surely will be people who aren’t as skilled at sales as you, and who can learn from you.
You can teach one-on-one or one-to-many by starting a blog or even do a vlog format or podcast like we’re doing.
Don’t worry about not being experienced or knowledgeable enough. I personally would LOVE to read a blog from a total sales beginner, genuinely sharing his experiences. You don’t need to be “better”, you just need to be unique enough, because the world needs more perspectives, not fever.
Become a lifelong learner
This is a character trait all of the most successful sales professionals and dealmakers I’ve met have in common: they have an innate curiosity. They have a deep-seated desire to learn and grow not just financially, but in many dimensions of their personality: intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.
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