It’s that time of year when thousands of new graduates enter the job market and begin their first job in sales, and with that comes a host of dreams, aspirations and goals.

Within a few months or even a few weeks, reality will set in and some bubbles will burst. A few goals might be changed and some salespeople will have deep conversations about what’s next.

As one who started his sales career purely by accident many years ago, I want to share with you my list of things I think you need to do.  I don’t say these lightly. I list these as serious things for you to jump into as quickly as possible.

I’m sure I would have avoided some big early mistakes if I had the advantage of reading a list like this when I began.

1. Don’t take a job that is straight commission.

As tempting as the lure of big money can be, taking a job like this can mess you up for life. The company that tempts you with straight commission and little or no base pay is not invested in you.  The fact they’re paying you commission means you are a 100% variable cost.

If you don’t perform, they don’t pay anything. What this also means is they don’t have any investment in you, and as such, will not invest in helping you develop your selling skills.   The higher the base pay is as a % of total compensation, the more the company has invested in you, which means the more they are willing to spend to train you.

2. Find mentors who can guide you.

No sense in having to learn everything the hard way. Reach out quickly and find mentors who have been in sales for years and are willing to help guide you.  The insights you’ll gain will shave months and years off your development curve.

3. Develop a mastermind group.

Find a few other hard-charging salespeople like you who will help hold you accountable, just as you’ll help hold them accountable. Sales is not a solo activity. It’s a team sport and you want to be associated with a strong team.

4. Read!

You might be out of school, but that doesn’t mean the reading stops. There are any number of great sales books you can dig into. Make reading sales books and sharing what you learn part of your mastermind group activities.

5. Park the ego!

Don’t allow your ego, regardless how big or small it might be, to make you arrogant. If you’re arrogant, it’s amazing how quickly you’ll stop listening, and when you stop listening, you’ll stop growing.  The best salespeople never stop learning, and one of the best ways to do this is by listening to others and being observant of everything.

6. Guard your time.

Time is the one resource that is finite. Protect it, guard, it, value it, and don’t let others steal it from you. Unlike in school where the clock reset itself each semester, that doesn’t happen in real life.  Sure, your quotas might reset, but the prospecting work and accounts you’ve developed all carry over.  The sooner you become a master of your own time, the sooner you’ll be spending a lot more time in front of customers

7. Eliminate the negative voices.

There are plenty of people who will love to tear you down. They do it because they’re lazy and they don’t want others to succeed. You can’t afford to spend even a minute with negative people. Banish them permanently. It doesn’t matter if they’re your frat buddy, you have to see them as toxic to your future.

8. Be disciplined. Develop great habits.

Sooner you get yourself into a schedule, the better you’ll be. It comes back to protecting your time by ensuring you’re spending it on the right activities.  The habits you create in the first year of your sales career will carry with you for many years to come.

9. Serve others.

Sales is an absolutely fantastic profession because of the people you will meet and get the privilege to help. Having an attitude of serving others will go a long ways to shaping you as a person and how others see you.

Serving others requires a delicate balance in how you manage your time.  Key is to never forget you’re playing a long game. Your career may very well span more than 40 years, and in that time, who is it you want to become?  Do you want to be seen as the servant leader or the egotistical prima donna?  It’s your decision.

10. Never stop believing in yourself and the goals you set for yourself.

Life is lived one of two ways. You can allow life to happen to you, and you merely go through the motions. Or you can be the one making the motions. Never settle for average. Be what you know you can be.  Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to seeing yourself as a victim.  You know you’re better than that. You know you have an unlimited amount of potential. Take control and make it happen.

Now you have my list of 10 things I wish I had embraced when I began my career.  Sales is without a doubt a great profession. It’s one of the few professions that offers unlimited growth opportunities and the ability to positively impact people.   Sales for me has delivered success far beyond what I could have imagined, and for you, the success you achieve starts right now.

A coach can help you excel in your sales career! Invest in yourself by checking out my coaching program today!

Copyright 2018, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results

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