What Measures Can a Salesperson Take to Perfect Her Craft?

My friend and colleague in the STA group, Don Perkins—Don’s website is mindmulch.net—recently had a LinkedIn friend ask him the question that is the title of this blog (however, the gender notation is all mine).  Don asked all of us in STA to do a group blogging project on this, with back links to each other’s blogs.  Happy to oblige, Don; if there are no back links, it’s because I’m first out of the blog box.

* Read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and listen to motivational “tapes” and work hard to establish a mental attitude made out of titanium.  Anyone can be mentally strong and enthusiastic when she’s winning; show me a salesperson who’s mentally strong and enthusiastic after she’s had her teeth kicked in for six months and I’ll show you a champion.  Master salespeople believe in themselves.

* Strong work habits must be established.  I don’t care how talented you are, or if you possess the selling acumen of Brian Tracy, Dr. Tony Alessandra, and Tom Hopkins combined, no one defiles Mother Law of Averages and gets away with it long term. You must always do the work. For a salesperson, that means making the calls, giving presentations. There is no compromise. Master salespeople always do the work.

* Salesmanship: If anyone knows your business better than you, best take a hard look in the mirror and ask why. If anyone knows the intricacies of selling techniques better than you, time to challenge yourself again. There are no excuses, no alibis. It’s your business, your choice of making a living; you must know every aspect of your business—backwards, forwards, and sideways. You must know selling techniques down to the subtlest detail.  Master salespeople know their stuff

* Read sales blogs and books.  Just a few books I would recommend are Jill Konrath’s Snap Selling, Chris Lytle’s The Accidental Salesperson, Mark Hunter’s High-Profit Selling, Andy Paul’s Zero-Time Selling, Jack Malcom’s Bottom-Line Selling, Dave Kurlan’s Baseline Selling, Sam Richter’s Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling, and Babette N. Ten Haken’s Do You Mean Business?  I hope you’ll read my own book, Selling Fearlessly, when it comes out this fall.  Master salespeople never stop being students of their craft.

* Take the time to interview the masters, in your organization and those working for competitors.  Go out into the field with them, observe them on the telephone, ask questions, take notes.  Master salespeople model other masters.

*  Responsibility: No matter how tempted you are to dump responsibility on some external factor—the company, your manager, your “lousy presentation,” the weather, the recession, or any of a thousand other lame excuses—there is no blaming or alibiing. Don’t do it, you’ll only betray yourself.   Master salespeople are 100% responsible for everything that happens to them

Those are the basics.  I hope you’ll add your own thoughts.