Recently at a conference, I moderated a panel discussion of successful business professionals. One sets strategy and vision for a $2billion IT company. Two are serial entrepreneurs, one of whom just sold his company for millions. The last is a CIO at a multinational company. What they said will give you insights to be the best sales professional.
Do you go to or away from risk?
They were asked how they made decisions and assumed risk. One panelist took the microphone and said very emphatically, “Very early on I realized I need to have risk. I can’t work in an environment which is risk free.” He was the one who never worked for anyone else. He had always been an entrepreneur.
Would you prefer to take on more risk? Perhaps you already do and are a commissioned salesperson. The amount of risk you need will determine how you get paid as a salesperson.
Do you thrive in a large or small environment?
The panelists were asked to describe their first job and how they selected it. One of the panelists said that he started at a large company. He then realized that he didn’t like being part of a large organization.
All his subsequent jobs were at smaller and smaller organizations. He wanted to try new things, control what he did, and whether he was successful or not. He couldn’t get those opportunities at a large organization where so many people were involved. At a smaller organization he would be forced to do a variety of work and make decisions simply because there weren’t other people there to do the work.
What about your approach to sales? Do you like having autonomy to determine which products you sell? Do you like having other people determine a global sales strategy of who you should sell to and how much you should charge?
Different sized organizations delegate different levels of authority to their sales teams. You might be better suited to another organization depending on how you answer these questions.
Where’s your plan?
One question was to discuss something in their career that led to their success. One of the panelists said, “I created a career plan when I first started. On the first page was where I was at the time. On page 20 was where I wanted to be over the course of my career. In between I had a document that I modified over the years and used to guide me to make my career decisions.”
What he included was the training and experiences he thought he would need to advance. His plan had questions to ask others to get the guidance he needed.
Such a career plan is what a strategic sales professional should have. What does your sales territory look like now? What do you need to do to advance your sales career? Do you plan to stay in field sales? Do you want to advance to management? Are you using your sales career to advance to another industry or part of your company? You should answer those questions now so you can develop your sales career plan.
The IT strategist said he estimates that of the 20,000 people he oversees that only 20% are happy with their work. 80% are working only for their paycheck. With your sales awareness, you can be more likely to be in the 20%.