- Advice to “do whatever it takes to win the deal” is presented without the necessary guardrails.
- When what you’re doing isn’t working, you need to change your approach.
- Do all the things that are necessary for you to succeed, without violating your values.
“Do whatever it takes” sounds like a good way to succeed in sales, until you recognize that there are no constraints or guardrails. As a professional, you should not do “whatever it takes” when that charge would cause you to lie, steal, or harm others: your character and reputation are too precious to trade for money. Here are five better ways to enhance your success without selling your soul.
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Invest More in Personal Development
The starting point for doing whatever it takes is investing more time, and perhaps also more money, in improving yourself personally. The profession of sales has a way of revealing your strengths, your weaknesses, and your vulnerabilities—those weaknesses that actively hinder your success.
Instead of looking for shortcuts, secrets, hacks, or anything else that promises an easy result, actually do the work. Ignoring your problems just gives you bigger ones! It may take longer to improve yourself in the really significant areas, but the results will be better and they will serve you for the rest of your life.
Invest More in Your Professional Development
Your personal development is critically important in sales, but so is your professional development. Most people depend on their companies to provide them with professional development opportunities. While it’s nice when your company invests in you, there is never a reason not to work independently to improve your craft.
Professional sales differs from other business roles in several meaningful ways. Your coworkers in accounting aren’t competing with their counterparts in the companies you compete against. In sales, you walk into your prospective client’s office alone, and you are personally responsible for winning their business. Your competitors have either already been in that office before you or will occupy it soon—I still check every sign-in sheet for names I recognize.
Since your effectiveness is the primary variable in your success, there is every reason to invest in your professional development. The better your ability to create value for your clients, the better your results. No matter how many years you have worked in sales, you can’t assume that last year’s tactics and strategies will work just as well this year. You have to improve yourself as a professional salesperson to create an upward spiral of better results over time.
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Improve Your Approach
Of all the ways you can improve your sales results, few will have a greater impact than adopting and practicing a modern approach to B2B sales. Many sales challenges stem from outdated approaches that create too little value for contacts and clients. Often the issue is relevance, especially for salespeople who try (in vain) to locate value in their company, their products, or their solutions. But there are other challenges, like a sales process that crowds out what would actually help your prospective client.
The legacy approaches were right at the time they were developed, but they are increasingly inadequate for our complex and rapidly changing environment, one that your prospective clients are struggling to navigate successfully. A successful partner must help them understand their world and their place in it, build consensus, and create the sense of certainty they need to move confidently towards a better future.
Improving your approach will transform your techniques, and when coupled with personal and professional development, you are all but guaranteed to produce better results.
Increase Your Activity
Let’s assume you’re already working on personal growth, professional development, and updating your approach to B2B sales. Two other factors need your attention, starting with your level of activity.
A lot of people translate “do whatever it takes” as “do more.” The spirit is willing, they say, but the flesh is weak. (And if we’re honest with ourselves, sometimes the spirit is too weak as well.) But the laws of cause and effect don’t much care about your good intentions: too little cause always results in too little effect. The truth is that activity, by itself, it isn’t enough to produce the best results. But when you have already improved personally and professionally and are using a modern approach, creating more effective activity, you can more easily scale up your results. It just takes more time than most people expect and more work than they’re willing to do.
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Persist Longer Than You Think Possible
You can get in a little trouble when you persist. It’s important that your persistence drives a patient, professional pursuit, the kind that doesn’t have you trying to use brute force. Don’t be so aggressive and unrelenting that your prospective client decides to avoid you—you have to be self-aware enough to know when you have crossed the line.
This writer once called a prospective client every Monday for seventy-six weeks in a row. Alas, I had no value to trade and no novelty in my messaging. Calling once a week is not a problem by itself, but without some way to break up those voicemails, professional persistence can easily be perceived as pernicious pigheadedness (not to worry, though: on week seventy-six, I finally acquired the account).
You may have to persist longer than you believe should be necessary. Maybe your timing isn’t quite right or certain cookies haven’t quite crumbled your way. Doing whatever it takes means not giving up on the things that you want, even when it is difficult, and even when it stays difficult for a long time.
Do Good Work:
- If you are not producing the results you need, what personal and professional development might improve your results?
- How could you change your approach to something that works better?
- How can you increase your effective activity?