Life in Sales: The Lower Highs and Lower Lows
In a world where AI is being trained to do everything. I wonder how you would train it to talk with a moron at the other end of the line
As you will have noticed, the last few posts have tried to explore topics other than Interest rates, stagflation, and AI Crypto. Why? Because at the end of the day, we are also human like you and want to share other parts of our lives in the hopes it’s something you can relate to.
This one ties strangely with our previous article on Wagemaxxing. A ‘lifehack’ (despise that word) guide outlining how you must shift the fundamental dynamic where you are not a cog in the machine; but a sovereign corporation, contracting out your services to anyone with the cash for your intellectual labor.
It’s recommended you read our first wagemaxxing article before this one.
Covid has shown us many things that were unknown before. You can wake up at 9 am in your pajamas and get straight to it. A far cry from what a boomer will tell you that you will have to slip on a tie, take the train for an hour, and engage in no less than 15 minutes of meetings every morning before you earn your non-inflation-adjusted wage. RIP.
Some things have changed; however, others have stayed the same. For those of you who have ever wondered what a job in Sales looks like…I’m here to cut through the bullsh*t and give a real view of it.
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Being A Salesman
First of all, without giving away too much, I work in Sales in the Financial Services industry. Specifically in the SME space. My role is a mix of Face to face and phone sales. I like what I sell and genuinely believe in it. Selling is, in essence, talking. HOWEVER, talking is perhaps 25% of the game. A robot can talk, AI can talk, and only humans can sell. It is one of the most difficult white-collar professions and has unlimited upsides/downsides. You live and die by KPI and revenue. In a balanced space with no nepotism and networking, it is a meritocracy, and you get out what you put in.
What Makes A Good Salesman
I’m going to tell you something for free that you will be charged thousands for by coaches. Salesmen are born. It’s like comedy, you can’t learn to be funny. You just are. Being good at selling like comedy is a byproduct of a less-than-ideal past. This may be previous poverty or personal issues. These circumstances hard code the ability to speak and weave conversation when your back is against the wall.
It is a field that attracts the poor, hungry, and desperate who aren’t born with a sense of entitlement and who don’t mind being hung up on. If you aren’t any of the above, YOU WILL STRUGGLE. Quote me on this. However, if you are none of the above and are still willing to go on, congratulations, you’ve mastered a key part of it. Not giving a sh*t.
At the end of every deal, every trade is a dopamine hit. That surge of validation from signing on the dotted line. All people need it; a quest for mining validation from clients, juniors, superiors, friends, randoms at a party, parents, partners, etc. I can’t make you start from the bottom. However, there are some key practices most sales folk do to keep their sanity and make a living doing so.
You Are On The clock. Always.
Your revenue report is your bond and your authority in any sales office. The 50-year-old veteran who misses three months of rev will have the same authority as an intern taking everyone’s Uber Eats order. Your time is precious. It is singular to you because, unlike other fields, you don’t have a team or a buffer to rest on should you fail as an individual. No stuffy office culture can be good for go-getters; however, that stuffy culture will often protect you should there be a bad few months. You mess up here, you’ll be left in the cold.
Having said this, these are all huffy puffy words. What is a practical example of time consciousness? Well, some people like talking just for the sake of talking. While this is fine as it lubes conversation socially, it cannot be the norm for a sales gig. If you source a client who will earn you $500 in revenue over the year, you have a target of $150,000. Be smart. This person is wasting time, as rude as it sounds. All the admin, onboarding, Know Your Business (KYB), and ongoing client support will outpace any gains this client gives you. Kindly refer them to a colleague who will take them or decline politely (the situation varies. if you have a small target, then small clients are a game. Interpret this article according to your specific target).
Furthermore, just like physical strength, you only have so much mental bandwidth before you start to tire. Would you rather sell to a potential banger or to this guy? Be polite, outsource it, or deal with small clients if required. Your time is precious; treat it as such. If you need to deny work or cut calls short, do it. Your employee review won’t revolve around how nice you are. No such real KPI exists.
Be Realistic About Your Work Ethic.
I despise, repeat, despise TikTok alpha hustle culture. It works for those who sell THEMSELVES, not a product.
It is a personal branding strategy, nothing more. You are repping your company, not yourself, here. Your client doesn’t care when you wake up, only that his order is filled. Waking up at 4 am with a cold shower won’t help you understand the product better. It makes you tired by 9 am. You are a biological machine, but you need rest and relaxation to go hard when you need to. Routine is important, BUT not for its own sake. There must be a method to your madness.
Vice is also important as you are working tough hours and days. You need reprieve and enjoyment to balance yourself out and be fresh to tackle the next day. Planning out your Monday on a Saturday to be Alpha will do you no favors. It’s a weekend, enjoy it.
However, never, I repeat, never shit where you eat. This means, in the corporate world in general, not creating romantic relationships with colleagues, even if it’s on a casual basis. Avoid dealing with office or work drama, don’t spread rumors, and don’t give up too much information about yourself. Be friendly, and speak enough to gain respect and information from your colleagues but not so much that you become annoying and reveal weaknesses. In sales, you also compete against your workmates, so pay attention to what they do, but never give them leverage over you.
Efficiency is also something that must be touched upon. You may be in luck if you have the luxury of flexible working. If you have a terrible boss, you must work around this accordingly. Nothing I can do if your boss monitors call durations and call times. (I had this).
For example, I know most clients and prospects are online from around 11 am-3 pm. This is when they are active. No one wants a call at 9 am or 5 pm, regardless of the product's quality. Optimize when and how you make contact. Don’t make yourself a nuisance by calling someone at a poor time who is already inclined to say no. Make a soft intro via email, pitch some of your goods but don’t give the game away, and lock in a call later in the day.
Long story short, treat your mental strength like your physical form, push hard when possible but tackle the smaller problems when you want some time to relax. In essence, not all work is born the same. Approach it as such.
Be Comfortable Leaning On Others
Good leaders delegate. You cannot do everything yourself. A lone wolf also suffers and perishes alone. There is no harm in leaning on others for assistance, especially those more experienced. Having said this, DO NOT let someone steal or move in on your client. Only do this with someone of good character. The point is that if you need to share profits with others in return for their experience, then you should. A client will favorably view a united and dedicated team in their corner. If you have a gap in your knowledge, sales skill, or network, then reach out to someone internally who can bridge this. It’s a lot more fun when everyone makes money. However, always be on alert for traitors. To test this, try and collaborate with someone on smaller clients of no consequence before bringing them in on a larger prospect.
Learn And Love The Product
In simple terms, I believe in the product and service. If you aren’t a born salesman, then at least act like you gave birth to the product. Own it. If you are selling something complex, you must ensure you understand it fully and take the spare time to learn it. In the long run, learning a new way to sell an existing product is worth more than all the admin file work in the world. You need an edge, something to put you over the competition. This can come by either selling something new or selling something old in a new way. An example, if a currency moves in the direction a client needs it to, use this as an intro. A small market update is warm than any script will give you.
If you truly want to take some work home with you, then learn new things about the product itself, not the company. You don’t owe them anything. Your marketability for other jobs is your skills; learning something new will not go to waste. For example, if you are a car salesman, learn the income distribution in your area. You will not be selling Ferraris in middle-income suburbs. learn the job, learn some more on top, and talk like you mean it. You don’t need to fake confidence if you know what you’re talking about.
Wagemaxxing And Sales
Being a good wagemaxxer means having ultimate flexibility. This means working from home, not having a boss breathe down your neck, minimal offsites, etc. This obviously does not lend well to a sales role because you will very likely be doing all these things. Just because it is difficult, it does not mean it’s impossible. Almost all jobs these days are moving to a work-from-home or hybrid model. So solving this problem shouldn’t be an issue.
The issue is the demand and energy that comes with working in sales. The constant context-switching can also throw you off, making you bad at all jobs. The best solution to this, from my experience, is to try to move into a sort of sales/account management role long-term if you plan on doing sales permanently. At this point, you should have built a client base, and your only job is to keep them happy.
If you understand the product well and have a rock-solid relationship with key clients, managing those relationships essentially becomes the job. These high-ticket clients need to be kept happy, and large companies would be more than happy to keep the bonuses flowing if these clients keep paying. That makes it super easy to start looking for other roles, which could be outside sales if you want to expand your resume and expertise.
Sales, however, still teaches many lessons, which is why I think you should still endeavor to at least try it once if you are in some business development adjacent role. It teaches critical skills like time management and managing multiple client and work relationships while building confidence. All of these qualities are extremely important to becoming a wagechad.
The realm of sales is a challenging yet rewarding domain that calls for born salespeople or those who have honed their skills through adversity. Successful salespeople are always conscious of their time, realistic about their work ethic, able to lean on others when necessary, and knowledgeable about their product.
While the era of Covid has brought about changes to work habits, the essence of sales remains consistent. It is crucial to treat your mental strength as you would your physical form, be alert for both allies and traitors and continuously learn about your product to maintain an edge. Remember, in the world of sales, you live and die by your KPIs and revenue; it's a meritocracy where you reap the rewards of your efforts. So, embrace the challenge and thrive in this cutthroat yet an exhilarating profession.
This one is personal. The field of sales has become synonymous with obnoxious behavior today, which in reality could be further from the truth. It is a profession that requires creativity, hard work, and passion, as convincing a stranger to part with their money is one of the few things that an AI will struggle with. You may not be born to be one, but given the right amount of smarts, grit, and dedication, you will make it in sales.
Now go sell a pen. 🙂
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