Build a Positive Perception – Boost Your Sales Career!

Sales is a tough but rewarding career.  It pays extremely well if you are with the right firm, and when you get it going well, you will always have a group of skills that you can call upon to increase your performance, and your income.

Not only is sales a tough career, it is one where opinions and impressions of others can rocket you to success, or make it more difficult. Much of this is because perceptions and trust are so important.

I would like to show how building a perception could boost your sales career.  This is not smoke and mirrors, it is real.

Build A Perception

At a point in my sales career I decided to specialize in transportation and trucking.  I am going to indicate how the three major constituents (customers, coworkers, and managers) can positively affect you career by using a couple of examples of situations that happened to me.  I think you will agree that even though the wind blows both ways, good and bad, having people believe in you is a game changer.

I realized early on that I needed a “hook” in my career as there were so many different individuals that a customer could buy commercial lines insurance coverage from.  How was I going to be any different?  It was a plus that I sold for a reputable company that had a national advertising campaign.  The rest was up to me.

Your “hook” will be based on finding a niche, underserved segment, or category that you can build a constituency in.  Let me go on describing my situation and you will see what I mean.

I made a decision that I needed to “specialize” in something because being a “jack of all trades” was not working too well.  I needed to save my career by specializing, and needed something that would result in near immediate results.  I chose selling insurance to medium to large trucking firms because they would listen.  Remember, I believe in being an expert, and you might want to refresh yourself by reading BSJ – Your Customer Needs an Expert .

What Does Your Customer Believe?

The most important thing that I did was to study the industry, the terminology, and the buying habits.  At the point that I think I knew what the customer wanted, I began to say, “I specialize in trucking business”.  When I said this to my first customer, he asked me some rather in-depth questions about the business that I answered well, and he said that he would give me a chance.  I had passed the first test.

Following this, I researched his business and made a host of suggestions as to things that he should do to make changes.  He shot down every one of them except one.  But… he realized that I did understand his business, and maybe just did not understand his operation well enough.  When I sold his account, he said to me that he was so very concerned that he aligns himself with someone who was working with his business for the long term.  I think he was saying that he needed an expert!

This customer then referred customers to me, and me to customers, and were loyal to me during my sales and sales management career.  Darn it, if the customer said I was an expert, I was an expert!

What Do Your Coworkers Perceive?

Changing PerceptionsCoworkers can help you to build a business persona as well.  They have the ability to tear you down as well.  The more you learn the more you can assist them in learning, so it is important to recognize that when you get the knowledge you will gain more by sharing than by not sharing.

They will sing your praises to others regarding your expertise and will refer others with questions to you.  In situations where there are new technologies or processes, you will be the ‘de facto’ expert and gain ‘expert power’ from this.  The people that you work with will ‘need’ you, and the perception of your skills might even be stronger than the skills themselves.

You might be saying that none of this puts money in your pocket, but I want you to recognize that it increases your credibility.  Giving you a power that you cannot claim without others ‘perceiving’ you in a certain way.

It was always said that if you see three people in the morning and they say you look sick or ailing, you might want to go lie down.  Well…if your coworkers proclaim you are an expert, and you customers consider you an expert….

Does Your Manager Believes In You?Black Sales Manager

Your manager is bright and  astute enough to be the  leader of your unit, but even this individual must yield to the fact that customers and your coworkers see you as a force to be listened to.  The manager is concerned with results, not just yours, but results for the sales unit.  It is a difficult to manage a band of sales professionals, and any help by having resources within the unit is welcome.

If your manager believes in you, this individual may give you more latitude with this type of business.  Sending call-in prospects or giving orphaned accounts in your field of specialty is an excellent way to recognize your abilities.  Your ability to retain, or convert these to sales gives you one more feather in your cap.

Remember that this individual is the key to increased compensation in many firms, as well as improvements in territories, resources, and support.

You have the ability to shape the perceptions others have of you, and it is time to start doing it.  Always remember that relationships help you win, and the professional who has the best relationships will win in the end.

Your comments are appreciated.

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