If you like to learn, then sales or business development is one of the best jobs in the world. I started in sales nearly 40 years ago, and I can’t think of a single time in those years when I wasn’t building my knowledge, skills and understanding.
In the early days, you learn about your product, industry, and competition, as well as honing basic people skills. And you learn enough about yourself to determine if sales is a viable career for you. Do you like working hard? Are you ambitious? Can you motivate yourself? Can you get into comfortable conversation with others? Do you like the products or services you’re selling? Do you believe in the company and like those you work for? All of these factors determine if you will last long enough to get to the next stage.
As you mature in sales, you go beyond peddling merchandise because you’re excited about theproduct and you begin to get enthusiastic about what you can do for your customers. You learn that successful salespeople are problem-solvers and dream-makers. They help the customer articulate the situation they want improved and help them choose a solution.
To do that, salespeople learn and truly understand the benefits of their product and how they can best serve the customers’ needs. They learn more about human nature and what makes people behave the way they do. They continue to learn about themselves, what habits are making them more successful and which ones aren’t. They learn sales techniques that work; the best questions to ask, the best ways to deal with objections, and how to recognize when the customer is ready to buy.
You might think that’s enough to learn. But it’s not. You continue to learn something new every day. How do the market and the economy impact your sales? How do generational differences affect buying decisions? How does technology make selling easier? How does it make it more difficult? What are new ways to manage your customer base? How does social media help? How do you leverage the company website? How do you write more compelling emails? How do you develop a strategy that gets you invited to tender bigger jobs? How do you make a successful presentation to a board of directors?
In the end, the difference between you and the next person selling a similar product or service is the value you can add as the salesperson/advisor. The more you know, the more you have to offer.