If youâ€™re an avid reader of popular self improvement books, you might have noticed that a lot of the authors, Jim Rohn (mentor to Tony Robbins), Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, etc., have a strong background in sales.
The reason why? Itâ€™s pretty simple.
Sales naturally leads you on the path to self improvement.
Selling is one of the most misunderstood professions in the world. People donâ€™t want to say it out loud, but there is a general consensus among the majority that sales does not rank very high in terms of occupational prestige, but the people who think that are sorely mistaken.
Ask any businessman or woman what their opinion is on sales and you will find that every single one of them without a shadow of a doubt will agree on this one simple fact:
Sales is the lifeblood of any business.
Without sales, no business can function. That being said, sales is one of those few professions where only a minority are able to succeed, the reason being that the turnover rate is extremely high due to the amount of rejection thatâ€™s prevalent in sales. If youâ€™ve ever had any experience in sales, you know exactly what Iâ€™m talking about.
I have the utmost respect for salesmen (not the unethical ones). The things they have to deal with day in and day out, the average person would probably not be able to handle it.
If youâ€™ve ever been in sales, youâ€™ll find that a lot of the principles in self improvement can be directly applied to your work. Here are just a few examples.
Incremental goal setting. You meet with your supervisor and discuss what your sales goals are for the month and you write them down. You get bonuses if you hit a certain quantity which in turn fuels your desire to achieve the goals youâ€™ve written. A new salesman doesnâ€™t come in expecting to make a million in a year (unless heâ€™s super experienced). He starts small and works his way up.
MasterMind. Seek out any mentors or experienced salesmen in the office that are available to guide you. Donâ€™t be shy in asking them. Youâ€™ll find that theyâ€™ll be more than willing to divulge enormous amounts of information thatâ€™s helped them if you just ask them with sincerity. Take them out to lunch and pick their brain. Youâ€™ll find that the Pareto Principle will apply in any sales office. 20% of the salesmen will be making 80% of the sales. Find that 20% and stick to them like glue.
Reading. Brian Tracy, Og Mandino, Tom Hopkins â€“ these will be some names that youâ€™ll get familiar with if youâ€™re really serious about sales. Youâ€™ll find yourself reading these books because selling for the most part, relies on basic fundamentals and if you can master them, you can apply them to sell just about anything. True, you will have to know your product inside out and there might be specialized knowledge youâ€™ll have to learn from the company, but once you have the foundation of selling set, the rest comes easily.
I could go on and on – visualizing the close of the sale, being persistent (you havenâ€™t sold anything in a day but you make one extra call and you made that sale), making a to-do list, time management, learning from your mistakes (you will make tons), etc.
What am I basically saying?
If you ever want to get a free education from the real world in self improvement, get a job in sales.
Sales is literally self improvement baptism by fire.
Sales forces you to become better.
It forces you to learn new information.
It forces you to apply that information.
It forces you to aim for a clear goal and to achieve it.
Why does it force you?
Because more often than not, when youâ€™re working in sales, the bulk of your income comes from commission, so you have that extra “kick” to motivate you that most other jobs can’t offer.
You have to constantly improve yourself every single day, whether it means being able to think better on you feet, developing a stronger game plan, or learning how to close more effectively and you will find that habit of constant improvement will carry itself over into other areas of your life.
Next time a salesman tries to sell you something, but youâ€™re not interested, let them off the hook easy. Tell them you donâ€™t want to waste their time and that youâ€™re not interested and thank them for their time. Youâ€™ll be a bright light in their usual dark day Put yourself in their shoes for a week and I guarantee you that youâ€™ll see them in a whole new light.
The point I want to get across is that sales WILL teach you the principles of self improvement.
Itâ€™s one the few occupations out there where you can take what youâ€™ve learned and apply it to any other occupation and life as well. You learn interpersonal skills, how to build rapport with strangers, how to persuade people, etc. Youâ€™ll find that selling will help you anywhere in life and if you think about it, youâ€™re selling a lot of the time in your life without even knowing it – convincing your friends to go snowboarding this weekend, selling yourself in a job interview, selling an idea you had for the company to your boss, etc.
I think everybody should study or even better, at least dip their toe in sales at some point in their life (preferably early on). It is a very good learning experience and I guarantee you that if you get some good solid experience in sales, youâ€™ll be amazed at the positive impact it will make in your life.