Success in sales is hard. Sometimes it’s elusive and complicated. Sales people are continuously searching high and low for the secret ingredients, the hidden shortcuts, and the newest sales tips that will propel us to the top. We’ll attend seminars, read every book, and constantly strive to refine our skills. While all of these have their place, what if I told you there’s a remarkably simple formula at the core of all successful sales careers?
Sales Success Formula
Meet the Sales Success formula: HW(2) + K + S + L = Success. Don’t let all the symbols intimidate you, this equation represents the foundation of achievement in sales, and it’s real real simple.
The formula consists of four elements: Hard Work, Knowledge, Skills, and Luck. Unsurprisingly, the element that carries the most weight is the one that requires no special talent.
The Essential Sales Rep Skills
There is no substitute for hard work. I learned this firsthand in my first job working in sales at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. I certainly didn’t possess the same level of knowledge or sales skills that my colleagues had. And I damn sure wasn’t blessed with a special territory or roster of blue-chip clients. No. I just outworked everybody.
I made more cold calls, attended more meetings, and tirelessly prospected for new leads. I built relationships and pounded the pavement with a relentless determination to succeed. I was a grinder. At the end of my first year, I had rewritten the record books. Hard work put me in the best salesman position, with multiple sales records including the biggest month ever.
Hard work is the great equalizer. It doesn’t require innate talent or some sort of head start. It’s a choice, a decision to give it your all, day in and day out.
Don’t get me wrong, I encourage you to learn as much as you can. The sales world is full of books, seminars, and classes. Knowledge and skills are essential, no doubt. But, at the end of the day, if you’re going to focus on one thing, let is be this: outwork everyone.
There’s no instruction manual for working harder, you just do it. It’s a mindset, a commitment to putting in the effort when others falter. It’s embracing the grind and persisting when the path looks steep.
If you nail the hard work part, you will be successful. But, you also need to build your knowledge and skill. Knowledge and skills are the seasoning to hard work. Knowing your industry inside and out, understanding the problems your product or service solves, and possessing a deep comprehension of your prospects and their businesses. Knowledge of these empowers you to speak confidently, ask AND answer questions effectively, and address concerns. Knowledge allows you to articulate how your personalized solution is valuable to the customer. Sales has a plethora of information out there if you go looking for it – industry reports, market research, competitor analysis, conferences, and sales training. Out work everyone in building your knowledge base.
If knowledge gives the substance, skills provide the finesse. The ability to think on your feet, to be curious, and make connections between what the customer is saying and how that relates to the problems, impacts, and root causes they may be suffering from. The harder you work to develop your knowledge base and get in front of clients the more your sales skills will improve.
The Role of Luck
No equation for success would be complete without acknowledging the role of luck. Luck is the unpredictable in our formula. As a sales professional, it’s the chance encounter with a high-profile client, a timely market trend, or a turn of events that works in your favor. Luck is great, but it’s often beyond our control, and it can’t be relied on as a strategy.
Bottom Line: Out Work Everyone
Hard work is more than an ingredient in this equation, it’s the catalyst. Hard work is not something you’re born with, it can’t be acquired from a book, it’s a mindset, a choice, and a commitment. It demands determination, perseverance, and resilience.
Think about the most successful people in sales, business, sports. More often than not their story is laced with grit, relentless effort, and a dedication to their goals. Hard work is the consistent progress, the 1% better everyday, showing up when you don’t want too, and maintaining the momentum you’ve built.
For sales people, it’s making those extra calls, taking that extra meeting, consistently pushing for new leads even after the countless rejections or ghosts. Hard work is honing your skills and building your knowledge base on a daily basis.
As you navigate through your sales career, remember that while knowledge, skills, and luck each have their place, hard work will always carry the most weight.