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The road to building a career in sales may be difficult but certainly not impossible, especially if you have a great road map, the right character, and key people in your life who help you move forward. In this episode, we’ll outline what these may look like.
At 22 years old, Mary Grothe started with a Fortune 1000 payroll and HR company. She became an administrative assistant supporting eight salespeople and the number one sales manager in the country. Within a couple of months, she realized she wanted a spot on the mid-market sales team. She asked her sales manager what she needed to accomplish in order to be considered for the position when it became available. For two years, she worked hard and became number one in her role. Looking back to heer first phone call, she was like any other sales rep, very nervous, and was sweating hard, but she also had a strong desire to surpass all expectations. She certainly accomplished what she set out to do.
Mary eventually took on an equity position as a VP in Sales and Marketing. They rebuilt the company’s revenue engine and quadrupled its revenue in seven months. She liked the thrill of growing a business and as she thought of setting out on her own, her entrepreneurial spirit was ignited. As a result, Mary started her first consulting firm called Butterly Creative in 2011. As a young entrepreneur, she was trying to figure out how to maneuver through pricing her services while maintaining the energy she needed. There were a lot of rookie mistakes in the beginning, so she eventually stepped away from the company. After she gave birth, her passion for the business came back again and she now helps build revenue for larger companies.
Mary Grothe has these suggestions for new graduates who are just starting out their careers in sales:
A new salesperson doesn’t have to automatically choose to go to a BDR/SDR position. There are so many types of sales positions in business development roles. It is important to understand these roles because each salesperson has the opportunity to match who they are as a person to the type of selling they want to do. Doing something that is more in line with who they are will likely influence their performance and sales roles in a positive way.
Part of the reason why Mary became the number one sales rep in such a short time is she knew how to play the game. She knew her playbook and was aware that if she worked at it every single day, she would have success. Most sales reps don’t know what’s expected of them so they don’t have the framework to succeed.
You need to talk to your leadership team about the progression of your current role, what is needed to meet certain goals, the positions you aspire to attain, and discuss how you are going to get there. Your leadership has to know, so they won’t be in the dark, and they are prepared to receive you when new positions open up.
Your role in sales will be dictated by the kind of company you will work for and what they sell. Is the company selling a physical product that you can touch or technology, or a service?
Service vs product selling
Mary has observed that service sales are harder to sell because unlike products, you can’t touch it and you can’t see it. It’s hard to compare side by side to a competitive option. It’s different from a product sale because most people can wrap their heads around a product much easier. Services also can have a want vs. a need.
Transactional vs big-ticket price
As a salesperson, you need to look at who is buying the product. Is it more of a transactional, high volume sale where you talk to 10 – 30 different buyers within a day or is it a deal that could take up six months to close? You just have to know where your preferences are. Mary likes selling big-ticket items because she enjoys complex sales. She doesn’t mind if it’s selling a service; she just loves the challenge of multiple buyers.
Sales reps need to understand the type of selling method that fits them. As a sales rep, you need to look at who you are as a person and how your choice is aligned with your goals. You want to take it a notch further.
What part of the sales cycle do you want to be a part of?
The third thing to consider is where your role lies in the sales cycle. Some salespeople are hunters and love the outbound. With these salespeople, they love starting conversations but they may not be detail-oriented and able to go through a whole three-month sales cycle. Discovery, demo, proposal, and closing may not be their strengths. Others may be on the opposite side of the spectrum and maybe more comfortable working with people they know when it’s time to demo, present solutions, offering renewals, and upselling.
Many new salespeople, especially fresh out of college, are put in the outbound when this isn’t where their skills or personality are the most comfortable. When this happens, it can cause burnout before a new salesperson is given an opportunity to see the full spectrum of possibilities. They prematurely think they’re not cut out for sales when the truth is, they were just put in the wrong role.
Everyone needs a playbook. That is, you need to know what’s expected of you, what the goal is, and what it’s going to take to get there. Mary’s team helps other companies by building for them an infrastructure of systems and processes around marketing and sales. They also build the revenue engine because more often than not, organizations don’t have one that is properly defined. Salespeople show up to a role and operate the way they think they should but may have no way of knowing whether or not it’s correct. Why? They have no guidance through a playbook. Your playbook is important because it’s the blueprint that tells you whether or not you’re going in the right direction. You should know, in any season of employment
If this is lacking in your organization, talk to your leadership team, and ask for that playbook to be created. You shouldn’t be thrown into a role and be told to figure it out on your own. Salespeople should be encouraged to ask for the information that will help them improve. Ask for the metrics, the indicators, the suggested number of meetings, and goals. Find a mentor and discover the path they took to succeed. Look at their numbers and double them to really reach for more and imitate what they’ve done to help them become top sales reps.
A salesperson shouldn’t feel like they’ve been passed up for a promotion but you’ve got to participate in your advancement. Do that by letting the sales managers know that you want to move up in the company and do this long before the position opens up. Let them know what role you want to play in the sales cycle and ask what it will take to be considered for the position. This way, you have time to create a plan, set goals, and execute within the timeline required. By doing this, you’re already established as a go-to candidate by the time the position opens up.
Mary let her sales managers know what roles she was passionate about and went to the game plan she created with them at her side and consistently monitored her progress. If she had waited for two years before she spoke up about wanting a promotion she could have gotten passed up, never having fulfilled the requirements. Because she communicated where she wanted to go, was proactive, and knew exactly what she needed to do, she received 3 promotions in 5 years.
Leadership wants people who are hungry to progress and they pay attention to the people really fighting for it. Look for ways to take on smaller roles on the way to greater responsibilities. With each achievement, surround yourself with people who are positive and can impart their knowledge to you. When you do get that role, always look back in gratitude for the people who helped you.
Don’t be money-motivated. Always focus on your buyers’ agenda and do remarkable work with the right attitude. Check out Mary Grothe’s LinkedIn and their official company site: Sales BQ. If you are interested in more sales stories, you can talk to Donald directly. Reach him via these channels: LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook about any sales concerns.
This episode is brought to you in part by Crmble, the easy-peasy CRM for Trello that helps you manage your contacts and leads without investing in complicated solutions, sync all your data, manage custom fields, and get powerful reporting on your sales. Try Crmble now for free at www.crmble.com/tse. This course is also brought to you in part by TSE Certified Sales Training Program. It’s a course designed to help new and struggling sellers to master the fundamentals of sales and close more deals. It will help them elevate their sales game. Sign up now and get the first two modules for free! You can go and visit www.thesalesevangelist.com/closemoredeals also call us at (561) 570-5077.
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Donald is the host of the popular sales podcast,"The Sales Evangelist". He is the founder of The Sales Evangelist Consulting Firm where he helps small companies develop killer sales process to scale their business and increase growth. Donald is also an award-winning speaker, sales trainer, and coach. He's a big fan of traveling, South Florida staycations and high-quality family time. Donald has a belief that “anyone” can sell if they have the desire and receives the proper training.