My guess is if you’re reading this article searching for clues on how to become a better salesperson, you have likely already found the right answers somewhere, but you have yet to apply what you learned. If you know what to do, why aren’t you doing it?



Darrell SterlingOne key component to success — not just in sales but in life too — is to work hard. The most successful salespeople seem to work extremely hard. Don’t be fooled, they play hard as well. How hard are you working? What would happen if you worked an extra two to three hours a week more than what you are currently doing? The additional time spent could yield you more prosperity than imagined.The real secrets to sales success were discovered and shared with the world in 1957 by Earl Nightingale. His work dawned the age of sales and self-help books. Other master salesmen include the likes of Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jeffrey Gitomer, etc. All the greats share similar messages, yet we continue to read and learn in hopes of finding new answers. Truthfully, however, the basic foundation for sales success hasn’t changed much in the last 60 years.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work,” wrote Thomas Edison in 1899. What was true over 100 years ago is still true today, and just like then, most people are still looking for some kind of short cut or get-rich-quick scheme but the reality is, was, and always will be the person who is willing to give the extra effort will reap the awards.



In 1597, Francis Bacon was the first person credited with saying “knowledge is power.” The quote is probably more relevant in today’s world than it was when it was first quoted. The ability to gain knowledge about your customers and their products and businesses is easier to come by now than ever before, yet salespeople still do not do the research that is necessary to achieve success. I have learned valuable information about my customers by connecting with them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I was scheduled to meet with a large customer for the first time, but before we met I thought it would be wise to do some research. I did a search and found him on Facebook. I had already learned plenty about his company by doing a Google search, but I didn’t know much about the man I was supposed to meet. I found my potential new customer and learned some interesting facts about his personal life. I discovered that his daughter attended Duke University, so when we met to discuss the merits of the proposal I had submitted, I casually mentioned that a North Carolina Tar Heel would have right away understood the value proposition that I was presenting while only a Duke Blue Devil would struggle to understand what was being proposed. The contractor had a good laugh and wanted to know how the heck I knew he was a lifelong Duke fan. We connected immediately, and I established a strong bond with my new friend and customer. How well do you know your customers? Do you know what they like, what interests them? Don’t you think it’s time you found out? The extra two to three hours a week you work will pay off if it’s spent doing your homework gathering pertinent information about your customers.



Do you provide value to your customers? In 1990, Ziglar was quoted saying, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.” Keeping this in mind, the question becomes, do you help educate your customers? Do you look for ways to make them more profitable? What do you provide for your customers? Do you understand their needs and why they buy or don’t buy from you? Do you know your value? Don’t you think it’s time that you found out the answers to these questions?



I believe repetition is the key strategy for learning. I have personally tried to listen to Nightingale’s CD, “The Strangest Secret” once a month. I read Gitomer’s weekly e-mails, “Sales Caffeine.” I strive to constantly feed my mind positive energy so I can stay on the right path headed toward personal and sales success. I accomplish this by concentrating on what I want. I look at note cards every night before going to bed. I have written down lifetime goals that I want to achieve. I believe that if I am constantly focused on the things I want, they will become reality. I have already had to create more goals because I completed over half of my list. When I first made my list, I thought I would be lucky to achieve just a few of the lofty goals I had set.

I break down my goals looking at what needs to be done that day, week, month, and year. I also ask myself what new skills I will need to learn in order to succeed. I dream about my goals as if they are already accomplished. I find that when I awake I am energized, looking to tackle my predetermined daily task as I strive forward, looking to become successful one step at a time. If you have a yearly sales budget, you had better break it down to quarterly, monthly, weekly, and even daily plans. What gets tracked gets done. Do you have a written plan, and are you closely tracking your success? If you fall off course, you need to able to re-evaluate, make adjustments, seek counsel, or look for a new creative approach.

If you’re working hard, work harder. If you’re already working harder, work smarter by doing your research and becoming educated on your customers’ wants and needs. You know what you have to do. To help you along your journey, find what motivates you, keep it in front of you at all times, and use it to assist you in doing your job to the best of your abilities. You must provide value, be knowledgeable, have goals, and work hard. You really know what to do to be a successful salesperson, it’s time to get motivated and do it. 

Darrell Sterling is the regional sales manager for Johnstone Supply of Central New York. Since beginning there, he has tripled the company’s sales while recruiting and training a sales staff. Contact Sterling at