It can be easy, as a salesperson, to get caught up in the day to day minutiae of your job. You call on customers, put out fires, check orders, and then come back tomorrow and do the same things again. If you are not careful, however, your career can easily be derailed because of lack of attention. What would you do if you found out tomorrow that your company was being sold to a competitor? How you would handle it, if you were told today that lay offs were coming to your department? What if you go in next week and you have a new boss? If you do not prepare for challenges such as these, you could find yourself sitting on the sidelines while the game goes on without you.
How do you prepare for the unknown? Here are two things you can do to ensure that you will be up for whatever your life and career throw at you:
1. Master New Skills
Think about the sales leaders in your industry. One thing that they most likely have in common is the ability to change with the times. If you are going to grow as a professional, you have to embrace change and learn new things. What skills could help you in your business? Does it make sense for you to learn a second language? Should you take a course to master a computer program that is important in your industry? Are you a member of your trade association? If so, do you attend and present at yearly conferences?
As you think about your strengths and weaknesses as a sales professional, what areas could use improvement? If you have a mentor or helpful boss, ask him/her to suggest areas for you to focus on. If you cannot ask for input, look at your most recent performance reviews and choose one of the areas that “need improvement.” Once you have found a skill that you should learn, spend at least two hours each week working on it. After you have mastered this first skill, you can move on to the next one.
2. Focus On Measurable Results
When you think about your sales and career goals, break them down into 12 month blocks. Then, in conjunction with your boss, set benchmarks of success that you will achieve each year. This goal-setting will show your boss that you are committed and self-motivated. When you achieve your goals, these results can be used to justify a raise or promotion. If you ever want or need to look for a new job, these examples of success can be used as evidence of past performance on your resume.
Being able to quickly and easily demonstrate how valuable you are to your company comes in very handy when lay offs or re-structuring occurs. It also provides you with hard numbers that you can present to a hiring committee if you want to/need to find a new position. Furthermore, there is nothing quite so motivating as being in competition with yourself. You will find that you work harder to “beat” your numbers from last year when they are laid out in front of you!