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How to Be a Better Salesperson

Don't blame the world if you're not producing. Learn from others.

By
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #36

Today's topic is how to know if you're doing well at your job, and what to do if you're not.

Listener Mike called in:

Hi, Stever. It's Michael from England. I'm a big fan of your podcast. It always cheers me up.

I know you're busy so I will be brief. I have just taken
my first sales job cold calling. I have been there three weeks and sold nothing. I know this sounds bad but our product is 20% to 50% more expensive than competitors. Am I just being rubbish or is the company expecting too much from me?

Michael, the Quick and Dirty tip is to start by assuming you can get better at what you do, using resources you already have available. If that doesn't work, assume it's the product or pricing.

Dear Listener, if you're not a salesperson like Michael, think about your job as you listen to the rest of this episode.

Why assume it's you? Maybe it's not. But if you get in the habit of blaming the company, the price, the market, or the competition, you're training yourself to think of yourself as a victim. It's not a nice way to live, but it is convenient. You can blame anything on something else. I tried blaming my dog to jump-start my victimhood. My homework? Er, I don't have it. My dog ate it. Then he messed up my desk. And clawed through my hard drive. And then chewed through all my good clothes, tore up my textbook, and forced me to remember the multiplication table WRONG.

Finally my parents just got rid of the dog. I had no choice but to do my homework. I went to get the textbook ... and just before he was shipped off, howling, to some unsuspecting family, the dog really had left a little present for me. The mutt won, and I was truly a victim.

In that moment of epiphany, I realized I thought of myself as a victim and that darned dog thought of himself as the one in control. And sadly for me, he was right. We both had control over parts of the situation. He was just owning his part, being a dog, while I was giving him my power over my grades, for goodness sake!

Take Responsibility

I'm sure most of you listening have already learned this and would never, ever blame your co-workers, your boss, your sweetie, the economy, your kids, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Communists, or Lycra for anything. But just in case you accidentally blame someone, just remember: always assume you have some control over a situation, even if it's not true. You'll be happier, more confident, and feel better if you do. If you're about to be beheaded in the French Revolution, tell the executioner that if he lets you up for just a moment, you can show him how to get rid of that annoying squeak in the guillotine. He'll laugh, you'll lose your head, but at least you'll exit knowing you could have done a better job.

As a first-time manager, I was convinced I was doing a crappy job. My boss asked, "How would you know?" That was a really good question, and I had no idea. I started sweating profusely, shifting side-to-side, and hemming and hawing, when he took mercy and said: "Just ask yourself if there's anyone else who could do better. If the answer's yes, do what they would have done."

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.