Life Lessons Learned From A Career in Sales

No one ever prepares you for life lessons. 

They don’t give you a gentle nudge nor do they whisper their sweet song like a lullaby.

Lessons always come at you when you’re bare, open, and have no other option but to listen and learn. Legend has it that it’s the only way to swallow the lesson pills.

Many books on sales and negotiation will tell you:

  • Sales is in everything
  • Everything is a negotiation
  • If you can master sales, you can master anything

And to many degrees, they’re correct. There are lessons and nuances the craft & art of working in sales can teach a person that will carry to one’s personal life.

Consistency + Practice:

As with anything, a successful sales career requires consistency and constant practice of the art.

Sales is an unforgiving industry and you must show up every single day even when you don’t want to. It doesn’t matter if you’re not “feeling it”, you’ll have to give it your all even on bad days. Even the worst at bats teach a lesson and you never know when a prospect is going to say “Hey, you got me on a great day. Let’s do it.”

Taking a breather is a necessity. We’re strong advocates for taking a bit of time to ourselves, however, if we’re going to show up, sales won’t allow us to only show up with 60% effort. So take that vacation, recharge, and come back with more spark and edge.

Life doesn’t wait for good days or ask if you’re ready to take the swing at the curve balls. It just throws them. You will HAVE to show up. You have to show up for the good days and the bad days; auto-pilot is not an option.

As with sales, everything with life requires consistent practice and practice requires patience. The ability to repeatedly do an activity, assess the outcome, and refine the process for a lengthy period can become gruesome; But as the saying goes, “Patience is a virtue”. 

Practice is not exclusive to sports or learning a new skill. Practice is just training a muscle (physical or mental) and can be done in most skills:

  • Communicating with your significant other
  • Harnessing your cooking skills in the kitchen
  • Being present with family
  • Gaining control of your schedule

Consistency, patience, and practice create the mold for our character and is a strong indicator of how we achieve anything.

Anything in life can be learned with a bit of practice.

Mindset + Outlook:

“Your life is as good as your mindset”

Sales coaches and Top Producers harp on the importance of having a positive mindset. It is the highway to spot opportunities, overcome rejection, and create solutions to pressure points. A positive mindset is an amazing tool to deal with the ebbs and flows of the business.

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

Life serves less than ideal situations on the table when least expected and we have no choice but to show up. There are many iterations of the quote, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react is what matters”. As in our previous article, the ability to flip the script to a positive narrative is invaluable.

Practicing gratitude daily is preached in sales as a way to keep your head on an even keel, free from the noise, and as a way to take stock of the good in our business to make sure the constant rejection doesn’t take a toll on us.

Writing down things we are grateful for on a daily basis is an amazing way to remind ourselves of the good in life while avoiding the stream of bottomless negativity that can easily bog us down.

Gratitude: Another muscle that gets stronger the more it is practiced.

Life and Sales are about people and their emotions.

People + Emotions:

We know sales isn’t about the product or the service being sold. Products, prices, and industries all change. People don’t. So if your value proposition is your product or price, you’ll be chasing that sailboat forever trying to stay ahead of the wind.

Sales is about people and their emotions.

Read that again.

If you can handle people, their emotions, and make them feel like a million bucks, you’re on your way to a successful sales career. Actively listening to someone in sales means listening to their words and translating them into emotions to find out where the pain point is. Subsequently, this will allow the salesperson to create a solution to make the prospect feel like everything is taken care of and know the salesperson has their best interests in mind. 

This requires effort, experience, and tons of patience as the salesperson has probably heard a concern plenty of times and wants to regurgitate a solution they have used in similar situations. However, they know they have to make the prospect feel like the solution is unique to them and cater to their needs and qualms. Use the scripts as a guide not as the only way to achieve a sale.

Life is about people and their (our) emotions.

Understanding people makes us appreciate more of everyday life and allows us to be easily empathetic to others. This introduces peace into our lives as we come to understand others and ourselves. We tend to take things less personal because we know what people are saying isn’t exactly what they mean and we take into account the many variables in communication and emotions..

Understanding ourselves, others, and concerns in general is invaluable. It gifts us the option to approach interpersonal & intrapersonal relationships with multiple perspectives and pick up on the nuances that live in the grey areas of life. Relationships with others and ourselves are tricky entities but with empathy, understanding of emotions, and human tendencies this can make navigating the waters easier.

From family members, significant others, children, friends, and everyone in between, each has its own language to interpret just as every prospect has its unique situation, but all of the above want to be heard and understood.

Most would say that there should be a boundary between sales (professional) and personal life. However, the two go hand in hand. The most successful salespeople are the ones that make their relationships with clients the most personal. This doesn’t necessarily stop with sales either. Think about your favorite artist. Chances are you’re not glued only to the music, but also follow their personal life on social media.

The two go hand in hand.

As the great Quincy Jones said, “A person’s music [career] can never be more or less than they are as a human being.”

For more articles on elevating yourself, your business, and those around you, head to our articles page.