Whether you believe it or not, back in the day I was a very talented tennis player. Some would say that I even had a pro-serve and a decent backhand. I played tennis up until my late twenties. I loved the fast-paced nature of the sport, the quick results, and the fact that I was in charge of my own destiny. What possessed me to give up tennis for golf still puzzles today, thirty-five years later. At best, I am a decent golfer (sometimes), but I have made no real advancement and have scored the same average all the years I’ve played. Yet, I still play, I still get frustrated, and I rarely beat anyone.
Everything about golf is the opposite of who I am as a salesperson. To be successful in golf, you need to be extremely focused, analyze your shots, always check your stance, swinging range, and lastly–you need to practice often.
As a salesperson, I am constantly on the move. I need to have multiple things going on at once in order for me to get things done. That’s just who I am.
Sales has a very fast-paced nature, which I’m suited for. I’m impulsive and need to feel the gratification of winning immediately. I don’t want to sit still and analyze; I need to execute. I only continue to practice golf because I want to be successful in everything that I do. But so far, the results are not encouraging.
This article is written for the true entrepreneurial salesperson; the independent contractor who is likely commission-based and eats based off what you sell. Today, you are becoming a rare breed to find, but are nonetheless needed more than ever.
The independent salesperson has been replaced in a variety of fields with teams of people that provide different services for their clients. There’s the “door opener” who opens the opportunity, the “transactions person” who handles the paperwork and essentially the deal, and then you have “runner” who does everything else in between. In essence, three people are now doing what one salesperson was expected to do in the past – open, service and close.
Today, several larger, corporate firms like this implement this new “sales team” model because they are able to more easily control the client. They also end up paying less out of pocket and reduce their risk, in case their top salespeople were to leave. Today, it’s difficult and uncommon to have a single salesperson exit a firm with clients at hand. Another added benefit from using this model is budget control. Corporate firms won’t have to pay out as much as they would otherwise for top-performing individual salespeople.
These sales teams are more focused on structure than they are on sales. These teams live and breathe processes rather than completing assignments and closing deals.
Although today’s independent contractors like me are less needed by larger firms, they still can achieve not only success, but reap far greater financial rewards by remaining independent and working off of commission.
With this in mind, independent salespeople still need to consider the need to be more structured, which is not inherit to who we are.
We have the opportunity today to create new business opportunities through more channels than ever before. We also have access to so much more data and information on our prospective customers than we could ever have imagined. In a way, we are overwhelmed with information and not sure where to even begin to analyze it.
Today’s salesperson has to create more organization and structure within their day-to-day life. They also need to be more strategic in how they manage their work. It’s crucial to figure out what project you want to work on and ensure you don’t tackle too many opportunities at once.
This means that all salespeople need to do a better job in organizing their days, weeks, and months. Set aside time each day to work on current deals, calendar time for new business, calendar time for the bigger, higher-risk, higher-reward deals (I call these my “big hour”) and then of course calendar your necessary personal and educational activities. Doing so will give you the necessary edge to compete as a true independent salesperson.