The Secret To Success In Sales

In my current position as Director of Sales, I have the opportunity to teach and train sales associates who have a diverse range of experience and skill sets. When I prepare for training, I usually start out by asking myself, “What do I know now that I wish I had known when I started?” One of my absolute favorite topics is my secret to sales success. I hope you’re ready!

The secret is this: there is no secret to success, especially in sales. It took me longer than it should have to figure that out, but it’s true. Seriously, if you read this hoping that there is actually some kind of “secret,” then there’s your problem.  It’s okay because now you know. But let me be very, very clear here: there is not and there never will be a “secret” to anything worth having.

However, you can have a very successful sales career, or any career in general. And, while it isn’t a secret, I do have a formula for you. These five principles will help you get there.

1. Learn to appreciate the challenges.

We’ve all heard the story about the caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. The caterpillar has to struggle to get out of the cocoon in order to develop the wing strength it needs to fly. Similarly, it’s the challenging sales that make the successful salespeople—the sales where you have to overcome concern after concern, the ones where you followed up and the other guy didn’t, the ones where you stuck to your process instead of giving up or giving in. In sales, it’s those deals that make you a great salesperson. Earn your (butterfly) wings and embrace the challenges. Tweet This

2. Have balance in your career.

Too often I see salespeople chasing money. One of the greatest aspects of a sales career is the money you can make, but remember, you also need a challenge, to gain valuable experience and to have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in your career. Balance your desire to make money with your innate need for satisfaction in what you do and seek opportunities to learn and grow in your field. The ideal job has all three in harmony. When you have all three, you will find that your professional and personal life will complement each other wonderfully. Tweet This

3. Learn and implement.

If you want to improve, you have to keep learning. Tweet This It’s easy to have some quick success or even great success but then plateau. Learning something new and then implementing it will help you to continue to grow.

When I interview people for a position, I ask if they’re an avid student of sales. They almost always say yes, so then I ask, “What was the last sales book you read?” It’s amazing how often they can’t think of one. Articles and blogs like this one are great, and I hope that they can motivate you—but they’re easy reads. Finishing a book and implementing some of its ideas is harder but worth the extra effort. So go pick up Darren Hardy’s book The Compound Effect, start there and choose a few of his ideas to implement.

4. Don’t chase greener pastures.

Before you look for greener pastures, make sure the grass you have isn’t already green! We all know someone who constantly changes sales jobs, usually chasing the greener grass. (Who knows, maybe that someone is you!) Tweet This

I was lucky enough to grow up working on a cherry farm, and it turns out that a lot of work goes into making something healthy and green. Don’t look for something better; look to make what you have better. Improve yourself, improve your team, help your customers, and focus on consistent improvement. This process will help you maximize every door that’s opened to you. Do this, and you’ll already be where the grass is green. You won’t have to look for greener pastures because opportunity will find you.

5. Focus on your strengths and not your mistakes.

This is harder than it sounds. It’s easy to review a lost deal or phone call and see everything you did wrong. But I challenge you to look for the things you did right and build on those. Tweet This You also need to figure out what your strengths are and focus your efforts on improving them. Use them to overcome whatever mistakes you may make. The bottom line is that everyone makes mistakes, but deals are won when you do enough of the right things.




  • Becca Watters (Vaughn), February 19, 2015 @ 9:18 am

    Great post, and great read, Jon! I completely agree that is really is the attitude of the sales and situation that determines how green the grass is. I have watched this sales team grow in areas that they didn’t even realize they were lacking, simply with your guidance. You are a great lead, and a fantastic, caring sales rep.

    One thing I like is where you ask how many sales book people have read. You hit the nail right on the head where the easy reads are really just that; easy. You need to be prepared to constantly grow and excel, but not only when you are in sales, but in the Search Marketing world in general as well. Sales is very fluid, as there is ALWAYS room for growth, regardless of how good you are, or how much you think you know. Thanks again for the post! For sure sharing!

  • Kate Lyman, February 19, 2015 @ 4:23 pm

    Great read! I liked the comparison to the butterfly.

  • Jordan Price, February 19, 2015 @ 4:50 pm

    Excellent article Jon. I love the attitude of focusing on strengths and using them to overcome past mistakes.

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