I Want To Be A Salesman

Image of Ryan speaking

“I decided tonight I want to be a professional salesman.”

A big decision.  Particularly for a freshman in College.  He was winding down that first year.  Learning.  Growing.  Experimenting.  Tonight he shifted to a place of commitment.

His words moved me.  I truly felt inspired as we continued our conversation about his life choice and next steps.

I was meeting him for the first time last Thursday evening following my keynote to several hundred college students at Northern Illinois University. The content was focused on Accelerating the Transition from Campus to Sales Career.

This kid and so many of his classmates  are going to become BIG producers.  They have a huge head start thanks to the cutting edge professional sales curriculum offered at NIU.  They also have so much of the right stuff inside them.

In partnership with event host CDW I had the privilege of sharing a few ideas with these students to help jump start their transition into a successful sales career.  No doubt the class of 2012 is graduating into a climate of economic uncertainty and anxiety about the future. There is intense competition for every job.  There is intense competition for every sale.  These students know this and embrace it.  I actually believe it represents their most significant opportunity to compete and win.

These students/soon to be rookie sales representatives don’t have bad habits. The Sales 2.0 movement is transforming the professional selling landscape mandating a skills and competency upgrade perfectly suited to this next generation of sellers.  When the game changes enter a new generation of GameChangers. They are more prepared than you think, less entitled than rumored and ready to compete for your job and your client roster. They don’t see their limited experience as a barrier or disadvantage.  They might just be right.

Just about every student attending the event stayed around for the networking.  They had questions for me.  Wanted to connect with CDW and genuinely seemed interested in connecting with each other around a night dedicated to their future.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many veteran salespeople routinely sacrifice a Thursday night (or any night) and come out pocket for professional development and some hardcore practice to advance their own skills and competency?

I loved being back on campus because I love being around students.  I love the mindset of the student.  Curious. Inquiring. Listening. Learning. Growing. Improving.  If you want to succeed in sales today the student mindset is one you have to embrace to compete at the highest levels.  The best salespeople are students of the game.

What else are they?

Prepared:  Most new jobs, sales, wins and opportunities are secured not in the moment of truth but in the hours upon hours of preparation prior. GameChangers show up prepared.  They do the research. Prepare questions in advance.  Have a point of view, compelling position of value and compete to win every time out.

Interested: Sales isn’t about you.  Your prospects don’t care all that much about you.  Your product or service probably isn’t all that different from your competition and it likely costs abouthe same. GameChangers make the sale all about the customer. They spend a lot more time being interested than they do trying to be interesting and understand that selling is asking, not telling…selling is listening, not talking.

Consistent: Best practices.  Good habits.  Discipline. Systems.  Process. Hustle. GameChangers don’t do things right once in a while or every other week.  It is an every day, all the time commitment to excellence.

Connected: GameChangers develop meaningful relationships and a robust network of connections. They connect people to each other, ideas and earn influence by participating and providing value. They understand you cannot automate relationships but recognize the opportunity to expand, accelerate and impact relationships online though friends, followers and connections.

Committed:  GameChangers present to earn commitment.  Not to simply share information. Every meeting has an outcome objective and they work with the end in mind.  They are also committed to performance.  They deliver their number and compete to win regardless of the circumstances. No excuses. Just results.

That big decision?  Well, I couldn’t help but complement these students on their outstanding choice.  What great skills to develop.  There simply isn’t a better place to launch your career!

No idea, insight, innovation or invention will ever see the light of day without a salesperson who can bring it to the marketplace.  Master that skill, put up big numbers and you’ll have an abundance of opportunity for the rest of your professional career.  Sales makes business happen.

I saw limitless potential on display last Thursday night.  With the right organization, committed to investing to develop sales talent (CDW is a great example) this next generation of sellers has the opportunity to do big things in the world.

Will be fun to watch!

Many thanks to Team CDW for making this special night happen and including me!

{photo credit: Ven Sherrod}

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