Few career paths put you in control of how much you can earn. The “make your own” mentality of the industry may have been what piqued your interest in becoming a salesman in the first place. You jumped in with a competitive drive and a desire to learn the 'Art of the Sale', but now, you’ve hit a plateau. These are 5 warning signs that a change is in order.
1. No opportunities for progression
One of the most frustrating situations to be in, especially as a sales professional, is feeling that the potential growth in your career has been restricted. Perhaps you’ve reached the top level of your current organisation, or the next role up doesn’t look like it will be available for some time. You may feel discouraged if, despite consistently hitting your targets and having been there for a while, that long awaited promotion is starting to feel more like an idea than an attainable goal.
2. Loss of motivation
Frank Bettger, Dale Carnegie protégé and author of How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling, credits the success he had experienced in his career--be it in closing sales, getting promoted, or his professional baseball career--to his unmatched enthusiasm. Not his talent, nor his detailed record keeping (although that does make a difference). The enthusiasm he had for what he did fuelled his lucrative growth as a salesman.
As much of a catalyst as enthusiasm is for success, a lack thereof can be crushing. The reasons why this happens vary. Maybe you've been selling the same thing for too long. Have you begun giving yourself pep talks before making your calls to avoid sounding bored on the phone? It isn't always in your control either. Maybe your company hasn’t invested in its product, making it increasingly difficult to get people to buy instead of competitor offerings.
3. Lack of training
Have you ever sat through a poor sales presentation and wondered "Who trained this guy?" Do you wonder if your prospects are thinking the same about you?
In your job interview, you were promised ongoing training and great networking opportunities. What they gave you, was a 2-hour video presentation, a manager who is too busy to be bothered with answering your questions, and an invite to the annual company Christmas party.
Continuing education is important to your professional development at every stage in your career, but especially at the beginning as you are rising through the ranks. Subject matter knowledge and meeting experts in your field will make the windows of opportunity come into focus much more clearly. Proper training and professional development opportunities, such as courses and webinars, turn the moments that a prospect catches you off guard into impressive responses that close sales.
The bottom line: If your manager or team leader isn’t interested in helping you progress by offering training or mentorship now, then what else are you missing out on that your competitors at more engaged companies have? How many disadvantages among the competition are you enduring by staying?
4. Moving goalposts
You’ve been told that you’ll be promoted when you achieve ‘X’ or that commission will increase when you do ‘Y’; yet, when you work hard to achieve those goals, the promotion or raise never happens. You are at the same place you were before, but now holding resentment toward your manager or whomever dropped the ball on their part of the agreement.
Instead of waiting for your manager to make good on what was promised, start asking around and find a place that has a history of keeping their word with current or former employees. One useful place to find this information is on Glassdoor.com.
5. Outdated sales practices
As technology has evolved, the ways that sales are made differ greatly from 15 or 20 years ago. Buyer psychology is different now, largely due to having easier access to information. Before the internet, customers needed to speak with a salesman if they were interested in learning about the product or service beyond an ad. Salesmen were gatekeepers of sorts.
Since social media came into the picture and multitudes of review-based websites emerged shortly after, prospective customers now turn to their social communities, friends, families and peers when determining the value of a product or service. Savvy salesmen have adapted their approach and sales processes to adjust to the changes. However, you may be at a company whose founders and leadership are stuck in their ways and do not keep up with the times.
If you were instructed to spend your efforts blindly cold calling strangers, sending out promotional email blasts to your LinkedIn contacts and continue to use a hard sale approach, then you may be learning from the wrong people. Depending on how structured the company is, you may not have an opportunity to explore more creative, modern sales practices. This is especially true for those who are in the beginning of their sales careers, but even seasoned professionals get complacent and find themselves being outsold by salesmen who adjusted to the new landscape.
About the Author
Robertson Sumner is a specialist IT sales recruitment company, supporting technology companies of all sizes to attract and retain successful sales teams. We work with sales candidates at all levels, from sales support to sales directors. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Facebook for the latest IT sales insights and tips or contact us on 01753 278000 to see how we could help you find your next sales role or employee.
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