This Expert's Corner Article on 'Ten Life Lessons That Made Me A Sales Pro' is brought to you by Christopher L. Cumby -
author of “The Success Playbook”, coach of the “Kick A$$ Sales Game”, and host of the Think Bold, Be Bold Show!
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Always Be Caring (ABC)
Selling is no easy task. But that doesn't mean it can be simple...
25 years ago, I figured out a magic formula that changed my life forever. It was called “Always be Caring” - the real ABCs of selling. If a salesperson wants to become great at what they do, they require a shift in purpose. The question becomes not if they can sell more, but what value you can add to your prospects.
It took commitment, perseverance, and dedication to become successful in sales. But creativity was just as instrumental. The lessons I learned can be applied to anything else in life – from writing a book to running a marathon. My hope is that you can take what I learned and transform your sales dreams into a reality.
I learned to:
Be Honest with Myself - I never tried to fool myself
Thomas Jefferson said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” It’s a sentiment that’s always stuck with me. I made an effort, to be honest in my self-assessments, scheduling, and priorities. I asked for help when I needed it and dedicated time to focus on tasks at hand.
Be open and honest with yourself when tackling the challenges ahead. Once you achieve this, those challenges will no longer hold any power over you.
Commit to the Process - I didn’t overlook how powerful I was
Making the decision to better your life creates a snowball effect of positive activity. Trusting in your course of action will bring you the people, places, events, and circumstances necessary to support you. You have the power within to make things happen, so unleash it!
Keep Going – No Matter What - I didn’t let anyone steal my dreams
If J.K Rowling had given up, the world would have missed out on the incredible journey of Harry Potter. While writing her first novel, Rowling was a single mother living paycheck to paycheck. She couldn’t even afford to photocopy her first manuscript. She was rejected by publishers time and time again until finally, she wasn’t. Today, Harry Potter is the best-selling book series of all time. In an age of ever-changing technology, Rowling’s stories ignited a love of reading that united people of all ages and nationalities. She never gave up, and neither should you.
Have Faith, Take Risks, and Get out of My Comfort Zone - I didn’t underestimate the power of faith
I am a firm believer that thinking for yourself can lead you along the path to success. You must have trust and faith that your goals are achievable and that your actions can make them happen. There’s always a risk leaving your comfort zone and pursuing your dreams, but the benefits far outweigh the discomforts.
James Cameron put it best when he said, "Failure has to be an option in art and in exploration--because it's a leap of faith. And no important endeavor that required innovation was done without risk. You have to be willing to take those risks..."
Be Patient - I didn’t lose sight of the end result
Paulo Coelho said, “I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”
Challenges will present themselves, and often at the most inopportune times. The key to overcoming them is to realize that not every solution is immediate. Go beyond today or tomorrow and take another look at your long-term goals. Patience is a very important virtue to cultivate, and it’s one that takes practice. Stay focused on what you want and practice patience as you shorten your path to your end goal.
Be Confident - I didn’t wait until everything was perfect; I just started somewhere and continued to improve
Confidence comes from knowledge. I expanded my knowledge by reading the right books and surrounding myself with the right influencers. As Mark Victor Hansen says, “Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what? Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful."
Make it Fun - I didn’t accept a tedious practice as being the only way - I made it enjoyable
I take a morning run each morning to get my thoughts flowing and map out my day. I play a game with sales: I focus on Activity-Being-Connected-to-Direction!
The game is simple. My activity is made up of the actions I must take to create. My BEING (me) is the magic key, and taking care of myself is the most important aspect of winning. CONNECTED is what we require to close business with our prospects. And finally, everything must point in the DIRECTION you want for your sales career. I teach this game to salespeople looking to boost their results, and it’s wonderful to see them level up and achieve their dreams.
Incorporate your own fun into your goal-realization process, and you won’t mind the hard work that goes along with it.
Set Myself Up to Win - I didn’t put more pressure than was required on myself, just enough to energize and motivate me
I embrace positivity. Every day I create opportunities for success by breaking my scheduled into smaller chunks. I call it a priority list, and I set no more than six priorities in a single day. I always set the hardest tasks for the earlier part of the day. For me, that was working my book, and it allowed me to ensure that my focus and energy were at their highest. You’d be amazed what progress you can make when you break things down into smaller, more manageable blocks. As an added bonus, completing tasks creates a feeling of accomplishment you can use to motivate yourself when tackling your next step.
Winning should be a vital part of your mindset when working in sales. That is why I wrote The Success Playbook, created the “Kick A$$ Sales Game”, and became a sales coach to begin with. Altogether, it keeps me motivated, accountable, and competitive.
Find Supportive Mentors and Coaches - I didn’t feel like I had to do it alone
“A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future, and believes that it can be obtained.” ~ Shawn Hitchcock
A mentor or coach can provide you with the guidance and support necessary to reach your goals. Having a support network of people who inspired, coached, and educated me was absolutely crucial to my success. They helped me set milestones and become self-accountable. They helped me become self-motivated when I needed it most and gave me feedback on my progress. They pushed me to be better every step of the way.
Create My Ideal Self-Image - I didn’t try to create without my self-image in mind
One of my favorite mentors, Brian Tracy, once said, “The person we believe ourselves to be will always act in a manner consistent with our self-image.”
Self-image is a vital aspect of goal realization. While writing my book, I considered myself an author. I visualized the completed project. I spoke about my tangible book and not just the idea that I was writing one. I saw myself the way I wanted to be seen: as an author. Many people fall flat of their full potential because they don’t align their self-images with what they want. Look in the mirror, visualize your ideal you, and believe.
These are the lessons I learned and applied to my own sales career. Did they change my life? My outlook? My motivation? Absolutely! And these lessons are not limited to one idea or process. You can apply them to your own sales career and life. You can achieve what you’ve always dreamed of and become your ideal you.
I will leave you with a thought that always motivated me:
I believed in myself, I took the action necessary each day towards my goal, and I did not underestimate the power of my faith of achieving all the things I set my mind on.