I’m fascinated by sales and figuring out what habits, techniques and mindsets are most likely to lead to a successful career. After reading Tools of Titans two years ago and talking about it with a colleague, I told him that I didn’t love the book because I found it to be all over the place (i.e. some people wake up at 5am while others are nightowls; some drink 5 espressos before noon, others have never sipped caffeine, etc.) His response was that, “Everyone needs their own user manual for life,” which was so succinctly put and beautiful that I remember it to this day. Below is my “user manual” for sales that by practicing consistently, I hope will bring me and my developing team success.
- Long term thinking.
- Focus on adding value (client first) rather than your commission.
- Listen. Ask leading questions to best learn the client and/or prospect’s needs.
- Build upon and actively nurture relationships. Don’t expect someone to hire you just because you worked together in the past; the competition is strong.
- Know yourself and your strengths / weaknesses (HUGE – I believe this is the most important life skill.)
- Look for solutions. Think how something can be done; be an optimist.
- Specialize. Know your client’s business and their specific needs / concerns.
- Leverage. Spend most of your time doing your highest and best use activities.
In my 6+ years at CBRE, I’ve been good about living by the characteristics in #s 1-4, however there are times when I’ve failed at #s 5-8. For example in #5, when I was just starting out, I thought I needed to act a certain way and be perfect / know everything to win business. That pressure made me nervous and didn’t help win business – it was actually counterproductive. Now I realize it’s okay not to know everything and admit that I’m learning in times of uncertainty, while being confident in my ability to partner with the right people and/or use my resources and get the correct answer quickly. In #6, I once had a client ask for something that I thought was unreasonable. Rather than trying to understand their request and help them achieve it, I fired off an impulse e-mail saying it was impossible. Fortunately, that was one and done for me – lesson learned, no more ruling something out without first trying, especially if it’s important to a client. Also the bigger lesson was to look for solutions rather than problems. Numbers 7 and 8 are completed in the long run and are things that I will strive to develop, but there are downsides in specializing too early (i.e. missing out on foundational learning) and one cannot get to their highest and best use without first doing the grunt work (i.e. earning your stripes.)
What other qualities would you add to the list above, or that form your own user manual for career success? My next post will be on lessons learned from 2018 and goals for 2019, which will likely expand on some of this for my career related and other personal development goals.