Can salespeople advance their careers in these challenging and uncertain economic times?
The answer is absolutely. The economic shift has leveled the playing field for sales misfits, beginners, intermediates, experts, and even sales masters. No longer does the sales professional who in the past could only hope to be caught in the shadow of the top performers continue to languish in the middle of the pack.
Many sales experts and sales masters, all of the folks at the top of the leader board, also have customers who are now locked in that oh so ugly and dreaded place, the spending freeze. This is happening in almost every industry and in every territory, and no one, regardless of tenure or leader board status, is immune.
For salespeople looking to advance or develop their careers, there is more than just a silver lining in all of this; there is a lining made of gold. As the confidence and wallets of the top salespeople in every company are shaken, the sales professional looking to make a move has the pole position. To take advantage of such a great starting point, the sales professional has to step up activity levels. Activity is never a substitute for productivity; but activity drives productivity.
While our former champions and masters are wondering how they can get their business back on track, they are also considering career moves of their own as they have built a lifestyle that has to be supported, and right now the grass could very well look greener on the other side. What this means to the rising-star sales professional is that while the former champions are reading the job boards and polishing their resumes, you are getting in front of your customers, building relationships, and understanding what immediate needs can be solved within even a shrinking budget, and you are winning business.
Instead of polishing a resume or looking for a new company or product line to represent, the dedicated sales professionals looking to make their mark are attending training classes, reading books, attending seminars, and listening to professional development CDs in their cars. To advance at this time when the field has indeed been leveled, these hungry up-and-comers know that even if their companies don’t provide the training, they need to seek it out on their own and get involved in as much self-directed training as possible.
Companies aren’t looking to anyone on their sales team, beginner or expert, misfit or master, relative to what they did in 2007-2008. Top-performing companies with strong sales cultures are looking for the sales champion who can rise up and deliver now, today. Past accomplishments and accolades are terrific to hang on your wall or place in your personal brag book, but the inner desire to grow and the hunger to succeed now is something that is pinned on your heart as you develop and grow your own sales career.
The playing field has been leveled, the coin toss has happened, the game is starting, are you ready?