As a single parent, working three jobs and earning $28,500 per year, I had nothing to lose by going into the sales profession.
Graduating with an MBA from Cornell University, the sales profession was a first choice, not a last resort for David Perry, author of Game of Sales. Lessons Learned While Working At Adobe, Amazon, Google, and IBM.
David didn't cut his teeth in sales at Mike's Appliances, he's worked at some of the best companies in the world. In our conversation on The Sales Life Podcast, we discussed perceptions surrounding the sales profession as well as strategies for long-term success.
Getting into sales is risky.
Perry disagrees, saying sales is one of the safest professions around.
"When I was in technology, my job was not marketable nor portable, and was totally unscalable. I could go and say, here's what I'm doing in this role, and the next person would be like, 'I have no idea what you just said,' and it's so specialized, esoteric, and everything is so proprietary that nothing can be transferred into other fields.
Whereas if you say you're in sales, everybody understands that. Yeah, maybe what you're selling is different, but it's the same to some extent. Sales is transferrable meaning that someone in my role can go to hundreds of different companies. So I don't see that as being risky. What I see as risky is if you get incredibly specialized and you find yourself in a hole that you can't get out of.
Sales is totally opposite. If you prove yourself at Adobe, Google, Amazon, or a startup, you're going to be able to go out there in the market and get work for any company that you want, or even go into a tangential roles.
Maybe you're done with sales, and decide that you're going to be a sales trainer, or take on a sales engineering role, a consulting role, or maybe even corporate development where you're working on huge deals. There's a whole host of other tangential roles that you can go into."
You can't get pigeon holed in sales. It is literally a profession that you can take on the road, on your terms, at any time.
Sales is one of the few professions that you don't trade time for money.
Sales is not a 1:1 ratio meaning you will not sell every customer that you speak to. Sales is more like a 25:1 ratio, but here's what's unique. Every customer that you speak to will not buy, but every customer you speak to will result in 25 unique experiences.
Can you sell to 25 people at once? Nope. But you can work with one person in 25 different ways.
How do you keep the sales ball bouncing when:
Your customer is standoffish.
Your customer reluctantly answers.
Your customer says that today is not a good day.
Your customer is telling you to buzz off through eye rolls and body language.
Your customer is short on time.
Your customer says that it's not in the budget and is going to hold off.
Your customer says the competition has you beat.
Your customer says that they'll stick with their old vendor.
Your customer says they're going to wait until the next month, quarter, year, or decade.
Your customer sees no need to change.
Your customer says no.
Your customer says no.
Your customer says no.
Need I go on?
One customer. Multiple experiences. This is why Perry says that sales is one of the only professions that you do not trade time for money because if you lean forward and get to the next rejection, you may not make the sale, but you will gain tremendous experience for subsequent ones.
Sales is not all unicorns, blow pops, and rainbows. There is a dark side to sales too.
This was my favorite chapter to discuss because I've had my fair (yes, fair) share of funk-ta-fied times.
Success in sales is not solely based on talent; it's more so weighted on adaptability.
Uncertainty is the only certainty in our field. Chip shortages. Economic downturns. Recessions. Bubbles. Natural disasters. New management. New variants and outbreaks. Personal problems. Nothing is off-limits, nor is it limited-sometimes it's like it everything hits you all at once and you have to somehow figure it out to meet your quota.
Perry says, "There's going to be tough times in your sales career. But just by changing those expectations and making sure that you are aware that dark times are coming, when it happens, it'll dramatically soften the blow because it was not unexpected, you'll be ready for it and it'll make a massive, massive difference."
Perry continues on, "But the other point around the dark side of sales is that it's all within yourself. It's your reaction to uncertainty or difficult situations that is inappropriate and you spin, spin, spin downwards into a dark place where you're resting in a position of fear and anxiety and feeling like you're helpless. Because I too am in the sales profession, I can help others get through to brighter times."
Why do salespeople quit?
Perry: "There are so many reasons, but I think it comes down to really two. The first reason is they're not aligned with their direct manager, and the second reason is they don't believe that the expectations placed upon them are achievable."
How can salespeople be persistent without coming across as pushy?
Like Neo in the movie Matrix, Perry waves off rejection (He doesn't even notice it!) by utilizing a process called, Automatic Persistence.
- Pipeline activator
- Opportunity basket
- Prioritization list
- Begin with the end in mind
Like a rookie firefighter, most salespeople run into a burning building of opportunities. Using the process of automatic persistence, Perry said that if you'll take the time to study the territory and analyze not only clients, but previous contracts and terms, you'll save yourself time and generate higher, consistent results.
How do you bounce back from losing million-dollar deals?
New salespeople shouldn't just go big; they should go bigger?
Answers to these questions and many more details can be heard on episode 666 of The Sales Life Podcast.
Remember the greatest sale that you'll ever make is to sell you on you. Never settle. Keep selling. Stay in The Sales Life