The sales industry frightens a lot of people. Their idea of sales revolves around huge targets, a lot of pressure and other stereotypes. While a part of this is true, years of experience have helped me see sales quite differently.
Sales is about building relationships and connections to solve problems. Being able to connect with people and get them to make that decision is the side of sales that excites me. My earliest memory of being interested in sales comes from my childhood. I still remember the excitement I got from interacting with customers at my mother's shop while in primary school and the satisfaction when an item was sold.
A lot has changed since, leading to me becoming the enterprise sales VP of Moniepoint. I’ve had to learn and build skills, and here are some of the things I’ve found most helpful as a sales professional;
1. Establish quantifiable objectives.
Sales is a goal-oriented aspect of any business. You’re trying to accomplish something, and without that in sight, it can get very difficult to get things done. I always tell my team that their targets should be measurable. It becomes unclear if you do not put a quantifier to your targets, making it even harder to meet expectations.
When you wake up, you can say, “today, I want to generate and send proposals to 50 leads in X sector”. Now, you’re working with a clear goal, and you can check it to see if you met that target before you go to bed. Focus on the target and push all distractions away.
Always remember sales is not about effort or activities but results. With a measurable target, you spend less time being busy for the sake of it, and more on accomplishing what you’ve set out to do.
2. Make Grit your north star
In sales, there are so many situations that you can only influence but cannot determine the ultimate outcome. Sometimes, you’re actually even more likely to get a NO than a YES. This is why it’s important to factor in the reality of facing obstacles while making plans. Always have an alternative.
Have a plan B, plan C, and even all the way up to a plan Z. I refer to this as “having a healthy pipeline”. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Pay attention to the process and know when it’s time to switch to something else. Instead of reporting the same deal for 12 months without any real progress, move to the next deal(s).
Imagine you’re chasing a deal with A telecommunications, and the deal doesn’t work for certain reasons. The next step isn’t to come back to tell your team and management that you did your best and you’re throwing in the towel.
Grit is one of our core values at Moniepoint. This means that we always push through. Instead of just telling the team that you tried pushing a deal with G telecommunication that did not come through, you also let them know that you’ve made progress with B and C telecommunications.
Always position yourself to have options at all times.
3. Be adaptable
Beyond just having alternatives, it’s important to be adaptable as well. It’s often said that the only thing that’s constant in life, is change. That’s why you should be ready to adapt. This change could be internal or external.
For example, government/regulator policy can change your set goals/targets. Nothing stays the same, and with new regulations, you could have a new playing field that you might be unfamiliar with. The way to power through this is to adapt. Look out for the positives and opportunities amid the changes and challenges.
It is helpful to have that emotional and mental mindset that things can always change at the snap of a finger. Give yourself a perspective that lets you keep moving, even when the situation is different.
An internal example can be a company saying they want you to drop product X and start selling product Y. It could be that you’ve been selling product X for the past three years, and letting go might be hard, but being adaptable will help you switch to the new product that the company wants you to sell.
4. Winning means showing yourself empathy too.
Sales can sometimes get overwhelming, even for the best. We all have those dry seasons where things don’t go quite as smoothly as you hope. However, ensure this does not become a pattern.
Always remember that as a sales professional, you are only as relevant as your last deal. As they say in Nigerian pidgin, “I get am before no be property”. Don’t be so focused on past wins that you let yourself become complacent. Always strive for more.
Regardless of that, once in a while, take a break. Don’t think of taking a break as an alternative to effective work, but complementing it. The idea is that you need to energise yourself and bounce back more aggressively.
I can’t tell you how to take a break as it varies, depending on your personality. For some people, it could be by going on a vacation. Others would want to hang out and spend time with friends.
What matters is that you boost your energy and get back into the right mind frame for work. You need to keep in mind that you cannot give what you do not have. Everything will be a distraction if you’re not in the right mind frame. So, do whatever works for you in terms of refreshing yourself and coming back stronger.
To budding sales professionals…
There’s something about the mindset. If you set your mind on something, it’s fixed there. If I wake up and decide that I want to achieve N100 today, my mind stays set on that amount.
However, I tell my sales team that if your target from the organisation is N100 per month, do not have your mind set on N100. Instead, push and challenge yourself to N1000 per month. So that even when you fail or don’t meet the expectation of N1000, you increase the chance of meeting the target of N100.
Let this be a continuous habit for you as a salesperson. It helps you increase your chances of meeting the target that has been set for you.
Lastly, the secret to a goal sales performance is to build a model that guarantees you a detailed and healthy pipeline of leads. If you fail with this foundation, you put yourself at risk of not meeting that target. Your network is your net worth.
If you’re ready to take the bold step to hit new milestones in your sales career, visit; moniepoint.com/careers