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Today marks a milestone for my sales consulting business, SalesLatitude: we hit the 10-year mark. I find myself contemplating how and why it all started, what I’ve learned and what the future holds. I’m pleased to share some of the challenges, rewards, changes and successes over my last 10 years working with many friends, clients and peers as the sales world evolves.
Since starting my sales career a few decades ago, it has been both challenging and rewarding. The challenges come from how much things have changed over the years. I’m talking about the increased emphasis on the buyer’s journey (finally!), tons of new sales technology, and greater focus on process and coaching. Whereas these challenges existed, year after year, I always had my eye on the prize: exceeding quota − whether as a direct sales person or as a sales leader.
With the challenges (which I love), there have been many rewards. I’ve been able to live the life I always wanted, travel extensively, and meet, work with and mentor more wonderful people than I ever imagined. Many are now running large sales teams while others are CEOs of major companies.
With all my successes (and some failures – yes, I am human), I was fortunate enough to be able to parlay my corporate sales leadership career into my own successful sales consulting business. How I defined success was a conundrum to me when I started my business 10 years ago.
A wise woman (@JillKonrath) once said to me, “When you are in corporate, your success is defined by others, such as quota. However, in your own business, you can define your own success.”
In these last 10 years in my own business, I was able to set our goals and my definition of success. The emphasis was on ensuring our clients attained the results and outcomes they desired. And, for me personally, it was more about integrating and balancing my work and personal life – something I had not done very well while in the corporate world.
I still see sales people and sales leaders focusing too much on their products and services, selling too low, providing proposals and product demos way too early, not doing adequate account and/or opportunity planning, and working hard (but not necessarily smart) to hit their quota every year. While they get some hits, unfortunately, they have many misses.
Thankfully, the sales world is evolving. Many sales people and sales leaders now understand that in order to achieve success, they need to think longer term and truly understand their market, industry and their customers/prospects. Over the years, I have seen sales teams shift their thinking towards solving business problems rather than pitching their products or services. I’ve also seen more sales leaders embrace the sales process and commit to improved coaching and planning.
It has been an honor to work with so many sales teams who have accomplished things they never thought possible: engaging C-level executives, helping them attain their MBOs and increase shareholder value, obtaining long-term and referenceable customers, and closing larger deals.
Over the years, social media has helped us make the world a smaller place. You can easily learn so much about people and have more meaningful conversations as a result. Those who use social media to share more about themselves can expand their opportunities to help their customers and prospects be more successful.
Sure, social media sometimes has its downsides, but it offers more advantages in the sales world if used correctly. I can only imagine where we will all be in another 10 years based on how much technology is evolving.
Over the years, the role of women in the sales world has been near and dear to my heart. When I was in corporate sales, the number of women in sales was minimal. I always tried to hire women to ensure a diversified sales team that represented the makeup of our customers and prospects.
Although diversification still seems to be an issue today, many more women have boldly pursued sales as a career and ultimately thrived. I have been fortunate to meet many of these women. Some are my clients and some are my peers. Many have become advisors and friends who have made me a better sales person and a better person as well. All have taught me and inspired me.
Success means different things to different people. But for me, success in the sales world has been being part of an industry that allows me to live a lifestyle I never imagined and travel more extensively than I could ever had thought possible. I’m able to work in a career where you’re compensated for your performance, and you’re constantly inspired to push yourself while staying current and relevant every day. I look forward to the next 10 years and seeing what they bring!