Helping today’s salespeople be tomorrow’s chief execs.

There’s nothing wrong with the career salesperson. Similarly, there is also nothing wrong with someone who sells having the ambition to be the ultimate salesperson; the CEO.

Surely, with all the customer closeness, planning and persuasion pursued on a daily basis, the salesperson gains the most complete exposure to those disciplines often considered fundamental in running a business well.

So why aren’t there more salespeople heading towards being the Chief Exec? I intend to help those that seek such destiny to reach their goal. I hope too that many sellers out there that have yet to formulise their personal ambition, will be inspired by what they find here to choose becoming the CEO themselves one day as part of their aims as well.

My focus is for people that sell business-to-business (and predominantly new business ‘tigers’ at that) in a ‘solution’ environment (the famed complex sale where what you push requires buyer-side change, will make/save money and needs input from several people). To help start the trip, here are ten principles that underpin my approach to being a successful salesperson, in a way that I believe moves you nearer becoming a CEO:

1. Always promote win-win

I hate hearing about salespeople that sell and run as much as I hate hearing about buyers that have taken vendors for a ride.  There is space for those of us that want to foster truly collaborative partnerships.  A big first step is to get to the core of what is in it for the potential customer.  It is possible for buyer and seller to be on the same side.

2. Buyers need to face up to reality

There are no hiding places today.  The status quo is nowhere.  Change must be accepted as a good thing.  Taking on board innovation is a terrific way of ensuring future prosperity.  Buyers are not acting in the best interests of their employers, stakeholders or shareholders if they fail to grasp this.  Likewise, salespeople are failing if they do not create the urgency to make things happen.

3. Get the process right

Many grapple with whether success is a journey or destination.  Yes, rewards accrue to those that hit their numbers, but this can only be done through creating a repeatable selling formula and understand all the levers that need to kick in along the way.

4. Most crm strangles salespeople

How can you not be a fan of what crm purports to offer?  Have any of us ever (really, ever) encountered a solution selling team that fully uses, even likes, their crm, let alone actually gain any benefit from it?  Technology should be our friend and I’m desperate to prove it can be.

5. There’s never enough training and development

When were you last in a classroom and felt that you were genuinely pushed towards a new boundary for your skills?  Not only are opportunities to further your capabilities likely to be few and far between, the chances of genuine weekly development are bound to be slim.  Re-focus is possible.

6. Lazy salespeople ruin it for the rest of us

There are bad apples among us.  Their activity seems unaccountable, what they do, invisible.  They complain about everything going on internally.  Nothing is ever their fault.  Other people should be doing more.  These people should take responsibility for their actions or ship out.

7. It’s not a numbers game

Making squillions of calls to find the buyers, doing as many presentations as you can, driving thousands of miles a week to knock on doors.  Each one no longer aids success.  Get on the buyer’s side of the table, create a compelling reason for a conversation and not only will you prime the pump with greater quality, your close-rates will rocket.

8. Stop the big time thieves

There are three; coming second, post-sale fire-fighting, and compiling inappropriate reports for management.

9. Selling should be so much fun

We should be proud.  What we do keeps everyone else off the streets.  Our recommendations should also make our customers’ lives better.  We should strive to succeed and reap the rewards.  There’s nothing wrong with living and breathing ‘sales’.  It’d be cool to hang around with kindred spirits.

10. You can only blame yourself

If anything goes wrong, no matter how tiny or huge, there can be only one person to blame.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself down.  Work out why it happened.  Make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Subscribe to Salespodder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.