When I began my career in sales, I'd never had targets, I'd never had personal development plans, I'd never had incentives and I'd definitely never had competition quite like I do writing this today. What I had done, was (foolishly) walk into a team of well equipped, well informed and well trained individuals.
Over six months in, I am now one of those well-equipped, well informed and well trained individuals. My time so far, as little may it be, has highlighted that there are two key ingredients to not just an effective team, but more importantly, successful individuals to mobilise successful teams. It's always the small pieces that make the big picture.
So what two characteristics have I learnt that are so key? Well, they're both as important as each other and unfortunately, if you have one without the other, your time may be cut rather short. Something all too familiar in sales. So what are these sacred keys to success?
Put simply - Skill and Will.
Now I'm sure you're thinking 'not another Einstein quote' or 'well obviously, that's just a ridiculous thing to say'. But do you really know the orchestration behind it and why it might mean you have some members of your sales team that are top billers, some high earners and some average and consistent colleagues?
There's an art to balancing time, admin, and even clients, but an even greater refinement is needed when it comes to skill and will; balance is not something you find, it's something you create.
There's a mass misconception that skill is something that people are gifted with, that they're instant success story with no hardship to attain the prominence and grandeur they now hold.
Bill Gates once said: "Don't let success blind you from the fact that failure was always the greatest teacher and inspiration". Skill is sharpened through identifying these problems and ‘failures’ and having a solution on how to improve.
Skill is taught, developed and ultimately nurtured. Everest was not ascended without shoes, the Mac without innovation or soup without Mr Heinz… Well, maybe not the last one but you get where I'm going.
Equipping someone with the tools to develop their own skills is grounded in the foundations those around them set. It's like being given a tool and taught how to use it properly. Each day you can refine and become more effective.
Then we move to will… Something not taught or found, nor bought or wished for at the end of a rainbow. It is not something that can be developed or honed.
Will is embedded in many, but not all, sales professionals and takes different forms. From my time in sales, will is the hunger, the determination and ultimately the competitiveness you find in the whites of a sales-hungry professional's eyes.
Will is also the willingness to learn but also be open minded about the things you are being taught. The ‘willingness’ to buy into what you are selling comes directly from the will to succeed. Zig Ziglar once said that every sale has five basic obstacles: “No need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust”.
In short, the tough world of sales centres around this word ‘resilience’. And although multifaceted, the key to personal success is based on the two characteristics of skill and will. The skill to learn how to deal with knock backs and the will not to give up and to persist with the same vigour and determination as the very first point of contact.
If you have a direction, the drive to succeed and a way to get there, no matter the failures you encounter, you'll have yourself a successful sales career.
Ultimately if you have the will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential then these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.