I know a few guys who love sales as a craft. They love selling. They consider it an art. They don’t necessarily care what they are selling (as long as it works, solves problems, and is ethical). They just love opening relationships and closing deals.
To them, sales is their calling.
But for many of us? Sales is a tool. Being in the sales profession is a means to an end.
We sell because it’s the best way we’ve found to support our families.
We sell because we’ve been sold hard on a particular product that we want the world to know about.
We sell because we are so passionate about a particular target market and feel our service can radically help that market.
We sell because selling can be a creative endeavor.
I love the story that Todd Henry tells about former running back Curtis Martin in his book Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day.
Henry recounts that Martin didn’t love football but he loved that being excellent in football allowed him to start a foundation that helps single moms and disadvantaged youth.
To quote Martin’s Hall of Fame induction speech: “I knew the only way I was going to be successful at this game called football is if I played for a purpose that was bigger than the game itself, because I knew that the love for the game just wasn’t in my heart.”
We Don’t Have to Be Passionate about Sales to Be Excellent in Sales
And I repeat: You don’t have to be passionate about sales to be excellent in sales.
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But you and I both have to discover a few things that will spur excellence.
- A Why: You have to discover an overall purpose. I won’t go so far as to say you must discover a purpose for your life (not a bad idea). But you do have to discover a compelling driver for you to do excellent work at your day job, even if that day job doesn’t consists of tasks you love to do. (Resource: Simon Sinek’s Start With Why)
- An Approach That Works for You: One source of misery for sales pros is the temptation to believe you must have a certain personality type. You must look like a specific high performer. You gotta be a hunter. All the cliches. While there may be some truth that certain personalities can be helpful, I do not believe it’s true that you must have a certain personality type. There are people and organizations that will benefit from what you bring to the table. Spend time clarifying the way you want to approach sales tasks and processes. Be creative.
- Good Habits or Self-Discipline: The key ingredient for sales is to learn to take consistent action. Honestly, even wrong consistent action is better than spending too much time trying to decipher what the right action might have been. Sales is an experiment. You go all in with a specific prospecting method and iterate and pivot and improve as you go. You can’t really break sales. But you can procrastinate, get distracted, do paperwork that doesn’t need to be done, etc.
Sales Does Not Have to Be Your Calling
I’ll just admit it. Sales, to me, isn’t my calling. I appreciate what being in the sales profession allows me to do for people in my life and for my clients. I love helping people and organizations achieve their goals. I love playing around in the world of marketing.
Don’t fret. Don’t allow the fact that you might have had different plans when you graduated college to turn you sour on your sales career. Make your own connections between your day job and your calling. You might find that that day job becomes more than a job.