Mark Dembo

Article Summary:

Success in sales can be yours with goal setting, hard work, and learning to accept NO.

Sales Success: 10 Secrets

What makes the difference between those who are wildly successful in sales, and those who aren’t? Is it true that salespeople are born, and not made? Do you look at those who are successful and figure that they’re just lucky, or that they have better connections than you do?

Well, think again. True success in sales, or in any endeavor for that matter, comes from a clear sense of what you are trying to achieve, knowing what really matters to you, and then charting a course to make it happen. Those who appear to be lucky are usually those who have ignited their inner flame and regularly take action to put their dreams and ideas into action.

Here are 10 secrets that, if you follow them, will put you on the road to ultimate success.

1. Commit to become outstanding in your field.
Success comes from excellence and continual improvement – making small and continual improvements on a regular basis leads to exponential results.

Make that commitment to yourself, and take action on a regular basis. First, start by taking an honest assessment of yourself. What areas are you not as strong in as you would like to be? Some things to look at, and ask:

  • Are you on top of new product developments in your field?
  • Do you know who your key competitors are, and what their key strengths and weaknesses are?
  • How do people use your company’s product or service?
  • Why do people use your company’s product or service?
  • Where do you find that you have difficulty in selling? Cold Calling? Making presentations? Closing business?

Be honest with yourself. Taking stock of areas for improvement is not a sign of weakness; rather it shows strength and commitment. So, the first step is to make that commitment to become outstanding in every aspect of what you do.

2. Decide exactly what you want in life; and work at it continually.
Set goals and write them down!

Sounds simple, yet research shows that 95% of people do not take the time to write down their goals. Why is writing down your goals important? Several reasons.

  • First, the actual act of committing your thinking to paper creates a sense of ownership and obligation.
  • Next, it forces you to think through what it is you really want.
  • Third, it provides a blueprint for action.
  • Finally, it gives you a benchmark by which to measure your progress.
As you make progress toward your goals your sense of commitment, satisfaction, and self-confidence will grow giving you even more drive to work toward bigger and bigger things.

To begin setting your goals start by listing your dreams; what would you like to accomplish in this life? How would you like to be remembered after you’re gone? What kind of lifestyle would you like to be living three years from now, five years from now, ten years from now?

Once you have written down your biggest dreams and desires, make a list of the things that would have to happen in order for you to get there. Keep breaking these down into smaller and smaller chunks so that from your goals you can create very specific action lists, which leads us to our next secret…

3. Back every goal with action!
Research shows that if you don’t take action on a goal or an idea within 72 hours, it will probably never happen. Goals, visions, and missions are nice, but they quickly become meaningless if they’re not backed by action. Remember the key to SMART goal-setting. That is to say, goals need to be:

So, for each goal you’ve identified, break it down into smaller sub-goals or action items. Let’s say for example, that you’ve set a goal to bring increase your income by 20% next year. What do you need to do to make that happen? How many calls will you need to make on a daily basis? How many sales proposals will you need to write to get to your goal? How long will it take you to develop new business?

Once you’ve identified the specific actions you need to take on a regular basis, you can then schedule in the activities you need to do to progress toward your goal. Daily, or at least weekly, you should review the action steps you’re taking and chart your progress.

The reason most people don’t reach their goals is because they seem too far out of reach. By breaking things down into small actionable chunks you can start to measure your progress toward the bigger goal.

The most important thing though, is that whatever goal you set for yourself, you must take consistent action toward its achievement.

4. Learn to Count Your “No’s”
In other words, be persistent. Success in selling is not about getting everyone to buy from you. Quite the contrary, success comes from continuing to press on, despite the constant stream of seeming “rejection” you are handed on a daily basis. Successful salespeople understand that hearing “no” in necessary to get to “yes.”

An insurance company that we worked with knew that constant rejection is part of the game in sales. So, in order to keep their new salespeople motivated, they gave each person a chart with 250 boxes on it. Every single time the salesperson talked to someone about life insurance and heard “No” the salesperson put an X in a box. When the chart was full, that is when 250 people had said no, the insurance company gave the salesperson $1,000! Sounds crazy, right? Well, the insurance company knew that in the process of generating those 250 “no” answers, that salesperson would probably generate $10,000 in sales. In other words, they knew that could afford to pay out $4.00 for every no answer because they knew that they would make it back.

Many salespeople get discouraged by the “no’s” they hear and give up just at the point when they will start to hear “yes.”

It is vital to understand that every time someone says “no” you are really getting closer to a “yes.”

This may seem like a cliché, but, the fact of the matter is, the most experienced and successful salespeople we work with embrace this idea as the central reality of their career.

5. Commit yourself to lifelong learning; both personally and professionally.
Your mind is your most valuable asset. Take classes, read books, learn from others. Learn and practice something new each day. This applies not just to business and sales, but to your personal life as well.

Why is this important? Success in sales is as much about having a genuine curiosity about the world around you as much as it is about understanding the product or service you’re selling. People who are well-rounded are more interesting to be around; people look up to those who are knowledgeable and thoughtful.

Constant learning keeps you fresh; it broadens your perspective on the world and can help you see things that you might otherwise not.

Choose avenues that you enjoy and can fit into your schedule. If you don’t have the time to take a class, then make a commitment to read one book a month, or to attend one seminar each month or quarter. Seek out people who have knowledge and experience is areas you want to learn more about. Whatever methods you choose, the important thing is to do something on a continuing basis to learn new things, expand your horizons, and open yourself to the wonders of life.

6. Use your time wisely; ask “what is the most valuable use of my time right now”?
People like to think that they can “manage time.” The fact of the matter is you can’t manage time, you can’t “make” time, and you can’t store up time. A minute not used is a minute lost forever. What you can do however, is get better at managing yourself so that you can maximize the 1,440 minutes you have each day.

Plan your week in advance. Begin by reviewing your major goals and action items, as discussed above. Then make sure that you have scheduled time for key activities related to your goals, such as cold calling, lead development, and creative thinking. Also schedule time for non-work activities to refresh and rejuvenate yourself.

What do I mean by scheduling time? Make an appointment with yourself to do the things that otherwise would fall through the cracks. I’ll use cold-calling as an example, as it’s one of the easiest things to put off. Let’s say you have set a goal for yourself of developing 5 new accounts this quarter, and you know that in order to get 5 new accounts you will have to develop 15 new prospects. And, hypothetically, in order to develop 15 new prospects, you will have to contact 200 new leads. If you break it down, that means you would have to make contact with 15 new potential prospects each week. Makes sense? Well, if you don’t physically schedule time on your calendar to make those calls, guess what will most likely happen? Will those calls really get made? There’s a better than even chance, they won’t…

Analyze how you spend your time, and ask yourself if your actions and activities are moving you in the direction of your goals, or not. Try to eliminate the activities that aren’t adding value or moving you toward where you want to go.

7. Find and Seek Out Role Models
Look at what successful people do, and learn from their approaches and techniques. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be successful.

Find role models within your organization or within your industry. Read books about successful people and analyze the things that they did (or do) that made them successful. Go talk to people who are successful – even if you don’t know them. The one thing that almost everyone likes to talk about is themselves. You’d be surprised at how accessible people can be if you call them or write a letter saying you admire them and that you’d like to learn more about what has made them successful. It’s a great way to pick up knowledge, and to build your network of contacts.

8. Have Integrity
Success in sales, business, or life doesn’t come from being pushy, manipulative, or dishonest. Nor does it come from trying to be something you’re not. You must always, and first and foremost, act in accordance with what matters most to you personally. When you operate from a place of personal integrity, it will shine through in your dealings with other people.

In our programs, we teach that successful selling revolves around finding out about what people “do” and then helping them do it better. Within that philosophy is an inherent sense of sincerity. You won’t be successful if your desire to help is coupled with a desire to take the customer for all their worth. Yes, you might close one sale, but you will likely not build a loyal or repeat customer, and your poor reputation will spread.

Start from a place of personal integrity and act in accordance with your own values.

9. Face the Fear – but don’t let it stop you!
Most people are a bit fearful when doing something new, or when they’re unsure of the outcome. As human beings, we have a tendency to fear the worst, and then let that fear paralyze us. Most times however, the fear we build up in our head is much worse the actual reality. So the result is we walk around in a fearful state, when if we actually took action on that which we fear we’d find that there was really nothing to be afraid of anyway.

Fear is natural and normal. Accept it. But take action anyway. Ask yourself: “If I actually pick up the phone and make this cold call, what’s the worst thing that can happen?” Will your life end? Will the person on the other end of the phone physically harm you? (If the answer is yes, then you may want to reconsider your career…)

When you put the fear you feel into perspective it become much easier to move forward in a position of strength. And, once you do take that first step, the fear will dissipate and your confidence will build.

10. Work hard and you will succeed.
It’s very rare to see someone in life who is truly successful that didn’t work hard. Working hard doesn’t necessarily mean working 18 hour days. It means staying focused on where you’re going, taking the appropriate action, following through on your commitments, and adjusting course when necessary.

If you follow the principles outlined here you can expect to see your self-confidence increase, your sales efforts improve, and your life will grow and expand in ways you never thought possible!

Mark Dembo; President, Lexien Management Consultants. Mark has over 20 years of sales, sale management, and business development experience, focused on improving the performance of individuals and organizations. Lexien Management Consultants provides sales training, consulting, and coaching services to organizations and individuals who are motivated to grow their businesses. Lexien works with companies in a wide range of industries including technology, financial services, media and publishing, public relations, telecommunications, and professional services, Mark also publishes the weekly Sales Success Newsletter. You can contact Mark at 914-682-2069, or at

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