What's the best way to stay relevant in this ultra-fast changing world of sales? In this article, I'm going to share with you a little bit about my journey developing my inbound sales and marketing craft and the absolute best sales resource ever...
As soon as I finished my teaching certificate I got my first...sales job. (Classroom teaching wasn't for me.) I didn't really know anything about sales except that I liked educating people about how to solve their problems (the teacher in me I guess) and as with most salespeople, I liked "being on the road" and "making what I'm worth".
As a rookie in copier sales, I didn't get much sales training. Sure they taught me about the copier equipment, but they didn't teach me about sales. I got my first taste of sales training about a year later when I was selling the GageMux (don't ask!) thanks to the owner who took me under his wing (shout out to entrepreneur Paul Mychalowych - and yes, I still know how to spell your last name!).
If memory serves, he's the one who let me "borrow" the Zig Ziglar, Building Your Sales Career Self Help Cassette Series created in 1985. Check out the pic below! I'm using it as a foot stool now at my desk. I taped a couple of other old sales resources underneath it to make it the right height for me. LOL! Way too funny (to me anyway!). Paul also took me to some sales seminars, came to appointments with me, and bought the old Goldmine CRM for me to develop and use.
Throughout the early years of my sales career, I continued to read books like Selling to Vito and attend various seminars like the Dynamics of Sales Management. I had a shelf full of various sales books, cassettes, and manuals. I wanted so badly to be successful; to make it big! I wanted to crush my number and watch the commission roll in. (Ahem...some things never change. )
Sales if frigging hard! I was desperate for a strategy to get appointments and move prospects from lead to sale. I needed information and help, and I can tell you - it wasn't coming from the majority of my Sales Managers.
Quick Side Track With a Funny Story...
Well, I did have one Sales Manager (besides Paul) that I felt sincerely tried to help me succeed when I was selling industrial supplies. I had to drive around and stop in at 15-25 businesses a day, places like schools, churches, and manufacturers. My manager had a little trick to get me past the receptionist: I had a bunch of emery boards (nail files), and he taught me to hand one to them and say, "Here's something for your file system." LOL. So cheesy, but you know what? It actually did break the ice and get them to either chuckle or think I was so dorky that I wasn't a threat. When I got to the maintenance guy I was trying to sell to, I had a little jackknife and I would hand to him and say, "I'm here to cut you a deal." Ha ha! I'm laughing to myself right now just thinking about it. Ahh... the things salespeople do!
Sales Resources Come and Go
Ok, back to business. All of the books and seminars were good stuff and helped me develop a deeper understanding of sales in general, but I think the picture above is a pretty good representation of how valuable those sales resources are to me now. All of those books I had? I dumped them off at a used book store when I moved a few years ago. Many of the core principles are still sound, but the tactics are outdated.
The tactics on how people buy and sell is constantly changing and developing. Ideas come and go. That's why it's important to do everything you can to stay up with the trends.
The Best Sales Training Resource Ever
For this article, I could have went out online and done a bunch of research and brought you a list of the so-called "Top" sales resources. But the truth is, there are no "top" resources. They're all good and can help form your sales philosophy and strategy. The more information you absorb from many different "experts", the more you'll grow and learn and figure out what works best for you.
The best sales training resource ever is....(drum roll, please): You! Your dedication to continued self-education and professional and personal development.
Don't get stale. Read, read, and read some more. Watch videos. Listen to speakers. Scroll social media. Subscribe to industry thought leaders. Read the news. Know what's going on in the world. Learn from peers - and your customers. Truly listen and get to know them, their challenges, fears, hopes and dreams. Don't pigeon hole yourself into any one genre. Make sure you get all different points of view.
One Tool That Can Help You Learn Faster
I can give you one tip that has been a TOTALLY AWESOME tool to help absorb lots of information: Audible. I can download all kinds of books and listen while I'm working out, walking the dogs, and making dinner. That's like 2 hours per day I can "read" books. Oh yeah, and the Sirus radio app has been great too - I'm addicted to CSPAN and NPR.
Below is a list of what I've been "reading" over the past year or so if you want some ideas. There's actually more; this is just a sampling! And I would be remiss if I failed to mention my go-to source for all tactical inbound sales and marketing strategies: HubSpot Marketing Resources, Sales Training Resources and Blog. Whatever you think about their software, they put out very high value information. If I have a question about how to do anything in my day-to-day operations, I look for their stuff first. And I'm not just saying that to pander to HubSpot. I truly find their content helpful.
Once you start reading a plethora of sales or business books or blogs, you'll begin to see the same theme over and over and over. There really is only one thing you need to know to be good at sales, and it's something Jesus said: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Once you start putting your own self-interests in front of your prospect's, you lose.
Last thing... if you like this article, subscribe to get email updates when I post new blogs. You can use this blog as a sales resource too. :-)