Sometimes, its OK to be the grasshopper

I’ve been doing sales for startups for 20 years now.  In this time, I’ve learned quite a bit about how to make sales happen.  In particular, I’ve learned a lot about how NOT to do something, and also how to read situations well so that I can come to win-win solutions.

Sometimes, I’ve learned these lessons through failing and picking myself up again.

Other times, I’ve learned from talking to people more experienced than me.  My sales mentor has been an incredible resource to me.

Yet other times, I’ve learned from watching the people who sell FOR me, or around me.  I’ve seen younger, less experienced salespeople have bursts of brilliance in sales and close or move deals with tactics that didn’t come to me immediately.  And, sometimes they may read a situation better than I have – and therefore have better insight in what the next move is.

Sales is an artform, and its hard to get it perfect every time.   And.. there are a lot of ways to learn and get better.  I’m ALWAYS looking for new ways to get better at sales.  When I discuss sales tactics with anyone… regardless of the level of experience of the person I am talking to, I would never discount what they are telling me about an account – in case there is something that I have missed about it or perhaps there is an innovative way to move an account forward.

This is why it boggles my mind when fresh, young salespeople are SO arrogant that they refuse to listen to advice  on how to get better at sales.  Its easy to misread an account, miss a “closing” cue, commit sales sabotage, and more.    The people around you:  your mentor, your sales manager, other salespeople in your company, your CEO, and anyone else in and around your deal can offer you tips and cues to get better – and you should be taking this advice.

I’m not perfect in my sales record.  There isn’t a perfect person out there.  (If there is someone with a 100% close rate – then stop reading this blog and go read theirs!)  However, there is nothing more frustrating than to see a young salesperson make blatant errors and then actually refute advice given to them by their sales manager and sales peers within the same company (that have better sales track records).  Just like me, you aren’t perfect, and in fact, as a young salesperson, you haven’t lived through a lot of the errors, and you don’t have the arsenal of ways to overcome situations that your salesmanager has.  EVERYONE should listen more and learn more – and rarely should advice be refuted on first glance.

In my career right now, I’m often the master – but often… I’m still the grasshopper.  And, I’m OK with that.  I want to learn and learn and learn so that I can continue to be a better master when I am called to be the master.  I actually think that because I like to be the grasshopper, it makes me a better master when I’m the master.

So… be the grasshopper sometimes.  It will serve you well.

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