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Sales Solutions
Independence Days vol 8, issue #7
July, 2011

Having just finished observing and celebrating our nations 235th year of independence from Great Britain, I reflected on the many meanings of another form of that word - independent - and its applicability to our profession. Here's how Dictionary.com defines, "Independent":

  1. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker.

  2. not subject to another's authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free: an independent businessman

  3. not influenced by the thought or action of others: independent research.


Many of us in sales like to think of ourselves as being "independent" in the sense of the first two definitions. Indeed, part of the reason we chose sales as a vocation is that it allows us a great deal more independence - more freedom to come and go - than most other jobs do. We're not tied to a desk all day. We get to leave the office and go out in the field, away from the prying eyes and ears of our coworkers and our bosses. In managing our territories, we are, in a sense, running our own businesses. You can't get much more independent than that. And those who work as manufacturer's reps or as "independent" contractors do so because they crave the virtually complete independence such jobs provide. They have no boss telling them what to do, reviewing their performance, or criticizing them. They are free agents in the truest sense.

Independence is not only a desirable quality in a sales person, it's an asset. The salesperson is responsible for finding the opportunities, working them, and bringing them to closure - largely on his or her own. But a sales engagement is not just about the end result - the close. It's about everything in between the beginning and the end. Along the way there will almost always be a need to involve others in getting a deal closed - colleagues in departments such as billing, shipping, manufacturing, production, and IT - whose resources, schedules, and other input you'll need from time to time. As well, you have a team of people right in your own department available to you for ideas, suggestions, and brainstorming for getting around a sticky obstacle or for dealing with a particularly difficult prospect or customer. Your manager, for example, can and should be used not only as a conduit through which to get things done for you within the organization, but also as a sage resource to help you strategize ways to move deals forward towards closure. So too should your peers be used for tips on how to get something done. Taking a training class, attending a workshop - even reading this newsletter - are all resources available to you to make you more successful. Utilizing them does not diminish your independence, but rather it complements it.

Many sales people feel that they should be able to close all their deals completely by themselves, without soliciting any input from anyone else. I too felt the same way earlier in my career, until I was introduced to a fabulous sales coach who opened my eyes to how much better I could be if I would just toss aside the robe of independence I'd wrapped around myself, and allow myself to accept assistance, guidance, and coaching. I learned that no one would think less of me for asking for help, or for asking my manager to accompany me on a meeting with a major prospect. On the contrary, I was viewed as a team player.


ACTION ITEM

We as a nation just celebrated our independence from the tyranny of King George III of England. So too do we as sales people celebrate the independence that our choice of livelihood affords us. But it's important to temper that independent streak with the reality that most of us are dependent on the organizations we work for, and on specific individuals within our companies who can help us be the best we can. There is no shame in relying on others to help you be successful; on the contrary, it shows that you're smart, and a team player. To that end, review your approach to your job. Do you avoid asking for help when you know you should? Do you resent having to do things you'd prefer not to (reporting, training -God forbid!)? Do you isolate yourself in the Sales department, never reaching out to coworkers in other departments? If so, re-evaluate your attitude in these areas, and resolve to make some changes as appropriate. Wander over to the Marketing department, find out what they're doing, and build some relationships. Take advantage of self-development opportunities without being told to. Become a team player, and the rewards you'll reap will be both abundant and valuable.


Good Selling!




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