Has Your Sales Spark Died?

If so, it may be time for a new frontier.

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How excited are you about the products and the market that you are selling into? Have you fallen into a rut or has the company you sell for changed or become stagnant?

I spent 17 years as a regional sales manager for a wholesale distribution company in upstate New York. We grew like wildfire in the first 8 to 10 years as the company quintupled in size. But the larger we became, the more our growth slowed. The company experienced major growing pains, including turnover of employees as the workload increased faster than we could hire competent personal. It was frustrating, but the thought was we would adapt to our new size and the growth would resume. The more we struggled, the more it seemed to choke the innovative sales techniques that had allowed us to rocket ahead, grabbing more market share. We bogged down and it felt like running in quicksand.

The next few years slowly sapped me as I came up with sales strategies that I thought would push us through, but they would get kicked around and never implemented. I wrote out my sales strategies and they were published by national sales magazines or trade publications like this one. I would receive e-mails praising me for thinking outside the box for for sharing a best practice that we at one time implemented but somehow moved away from. Our growth stopped.

I became unmotivated and frustrated with my job. I had learned a tremendous amount and had grown. The owner of the company is an extremely intelligent person who had taught me plenty. I had enjoyed my time, but the truth was I needed a fresh start. We had grown little over the past 3 to 4 years and a competitive salesperson wants and needs to win. It was time for me to go.

Are you doing enough just to get by? Ask yourself the hard truth. I had to come to the realization that the company I was working for was no longer operating in an aggressive growth mode. Is that what is happening to you? Has the spark died out?

My drive to 'grow or die' had waned. The time had come to tackle a new sales frontier. Sales is different from most professions. If you really want to excel in sales you must have that burning drive and desire within you, the willingness to make the extra sales call, and the need to be first.

It was hard to switch jobs after 17 years — to say goodbye to longtime customers who had become trusted friends. I wanted to get reenergized, so slowly, but surely, I began my search. My plan was to leave only if I could join an aggressive company hell-bent on superior customer service and growth. I am always looking to improve on my circumstances, but I had to find the right fit.

We all know salespeople who are comfortable with the status quo and are happy to just stay steadily employed. Don't be that person! If your company doesn't challenge you and your ideas gather dust, then you have to have the courage to move on. Nothing ventured, nothing earned.

I left upstate New York and moved to Louisville, KY. My new employer has provided me with all of the tools needed to rapidly grow sales. I am truly excited for what lies ahead. The point is to constantly challenge yourself. You must find a way to stay driven and motivated. If you are stuck in a position where you feel that you are capped in what you can do or how much money you can make, then it is time to either have a heart-to-heart with your boss, or if necessary, take the leap to find your new frontier.

You need to remember why you got into sales to begin with. Chances are that you love a challenge and wanted to control how much money you could make. A good sales job should not have you boxed in or have you earning basically the same income year-over-year. If this is you, it is time to change the game. Please never forget that you have to sell more to make more. My old company quintupled its size in my tenure, but my personal pay ever came close to even doubling. It also appeared that we were slowly slipping backwards, so it was definitely time to go.

The new frontier for you could be to aggressively tackle a new product line or recommitting to doubling your growth. Whatever this means to you, stay true to why you are in the sales profession, make your fortune, take excellent care of your customers and always strive for more ways to grow. For me, that meant a new job in a new market.

I am still an HVAC wholesaler because this is where I belong. The question is, where do you belong? Only you know the answer. It might be time to do a little soul searching to figure out if you are truly in the right position to maximize your abilities.

You have to break down the numbers and analyze your situation so that you can make an informed decision about your future in sales with your current company. Are you getting enough leads, do you have the right support tools? Do you have the right products and services that are perceived as valuable to your customer base? If the problem is your closing rate, then the problem might not lie with the company but with your own abilities, so you might need to commit to learning new sales tools or start reusing what had worked for you in the past.

I have only worked for two companies for the last 30 years, so I'm not one to change jobs. The best thing for me over my career has been grind it out. I would get SterlingSterlingcreative,  come up with new strategies and drive myself harder to accomplish not only my goals, but the goals of the company. But when I was no longer able to get this accomplished, then it became glaringly obvious that it was time for me to looks for new horizon.

You have to have the courage to take the leap, but make sure the juice is worth the squeeze. Happy selling.

Darrell Sterling is a parts and supplies territory manager for Koch Air, one of the largest Carrier distributors in the US, with nine locations throughout the Midwest. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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