A career in sales is awesome. It’s personally and intellectually challenging. It’s autonomous and flexible. It can be financially rewarding, if not downright lucrative.
It’s no wonder so many people want to pursue it.
Yet, it seems just as many leave the industry as quickly as they joined.
Why? Because they find themselves derailed, dejected, and disappointed. Here are 6 common reasons why, so that you can avoid them and find yourself instead among the top performers instead.
Pitfall #1: Not being Malleable
Sales is a people business. And, as anyone who’s ever dealt with people knows, they can be…different. As a result, sales requires a lot of flexibility.
But it also requires a lot of discipline.
People who think they ‘know it all’ or are not coachable don’t last very long.
This can be especially true if you’re coming from a completely different industry or system.
For example, we had a rep who sold a product line we specialize in for a number of years in a different market. For years, his approach had been successful.
But the industry has changed, customer preferences have changed, and our process is different than the one he was used to.
But, because he had been successful before he was stuck in his ways and not very adaptable.
You can see where this is going.
He struggled to hit his numbers and felt like his career was unraveling.
At the same time, another person – hired in at the same time – with a much more coachable disposition (but no industry expertise) started doing really well.
The difference? Not experience. Coachability.
Pitfall #2: Thinking You’re There when You’re Not
One of biggest shames to witness is a coachable, seemingly great rep coming out of the gate and killin’ it…only to crash and burn a few months later.
Most of us like novelty.
When something is new and interesting – and we’re hungry – we’ll often bust our butts to learn and grow and develop professionally.
But, over time, the novelty wears off and we’re left with diminished enthusiasm.
It’s a little bit like the professional athlete who makes a seemingly awful play and stops…before the whistle blows, and is ultimately beat.
Without perseverance (and a good process), you’ll likely fall short of your potential and possibly burn out.
To avoid this, you’ve got to have new, behavior-based milestones in place that you’re constantly working towards, combined with a strong sense of purpose.
Ultimately, grit wins.
Pitfall #3: Not Setting Goals
One way to avoid this pitfall above is to have short, medium, and long-term goals that are written down.
All three types are necessary and work together to help you persevere and advance, when you’re comfortable or feel like quitting.
Your long-term goals, for instance, should be big and have a strong “why” attached to them. They need to be able to pull you forward on those days you feel like giving up.
Your medium-term goals, however, serve as benchmarks.
Accomplishing them every few months supercharges you and keeps you committed to your long-term goals. You feel the reward of working towards something big, but without the anxiety of completing the big thing at one time.
After all, the best way to eat an elephant is one bit at a time.
Your short-term goals, though, keep you going each day and make sure you don’t break your commitments. These are goals that are scoped by the day or maybe even the hour. You check them off each day and, as you add the days together, find your monthly goals fall into place.
Not to toot our own horn, but one of our greatest strengths with our reps is how we offer personal and professional development designed to help you with goal-setting, time management, and other skills needed to be a better salesperson and, well, person.
We also have bonus structures, rewards, accountability, and team-building designed to help you stay focused and keep growing. If any of that sounds interesting, we encourage you to apply now. But, even if you don’t – you’ll want to make sure you’ve got those habits in place as you begin your sales career.
Pitfall #4: Being Disorganized
Did you know that many customers – even in direct sales – don’t close the first time you meet them?
The truth is that many customers require follow up, extra qualification, or additional appointments.
To be successful, you have to keep it all together.
Unfortunately, many reps lack organization or impulse control. Rather than follow up, they head off to McDonalds for lunch. Or, instead of following their system, they wing it.
And, a few months later, when the pipeline is empty and the wallet emptier, they’ll find themselves stressed out and ready to quit sales.
Pitfall #5: Having a Poor Mindset
We could do a whole post on mindset, but there are a few habits of mind that stick out as really unhelpful to a successful career in sales:
- Not thinking creatively about problem-solving
- Not asking for help when it’s needed
- Complaining and being easily frustrated
- Projecting the past into the future
Many of these are self-explanatory and reflect an overall bad attitude.
But one of the most pernicious habits that can befall a sales rep is the last one: projecting the past into the future.
Some reps have a bad interaction that they carry with them into the next interaction. Which goes badly. So, they carry that into the next interaction…and so on, and so forth.