Do you really know what your strengths and weaknesses are as a sales professional?
It is incredibly important for you to understand both your strengths and weaknesses. If you are unsure, you should have a frank and open conversation with your boss or coworkers so that you can truly understand what areas need work and attention, and where you are already proficient.
You obviously want to work on overcoming weaknesses, but when selling, you want to make sure to use your strengths so that you can reap their benefits. Every salesperson knows that the more you sell, the more income you make, so if you’re leaning into your strengths, your ability to earn more money will improve tremendously.
The key, of course, is to know not only where your strengths lie, but also how you can best utilize them. I have always been more of a hunter, wanting to go after new accounts, and at times have struggled with the farming side of sales, which is basically growing and reaping what you have sown.
I try to make sure that I am effectively pursuing all potential customers in hopes of landing them, while at the same time working to grow sales out of my current account base.
I am continuously on the lookout for new opportunities and try to reach out to as many prospective customers as possible, knowing that for me to really succeed, I need to keep a steady stream of new customers coming through in order to offset my weakness of not servicing my existing account base to quite the level I’d like.
I’m acutely aware of my shortcomings and lean into my strengths so that my sales growth and success is more guaranteed than it would be if I focused solely on overcoming weaknesses. I try to improve in every aspect of my profession. I study, read, and listen to ways to improve. My weakness as a farmer has diminished, as I have started providing more value to my existing customers by running joint sales calls with our key vendors so that, on a regular basis, I am bringing them different solutions that can help their businesses.
I also try to even out my time. I track how much time is spent doing various tasks throughout my day. I get frustrated if too much time is spent taking care of existing accounts because I know that is not the path for extremely rapid growth for me. I have a high share of wallet with most of my key accounts, so there isn’t as much to gain from spending more time in order to get what I normally get from these accounts. I must keep pounding the pavement and prospecting for next big account; that is what will move the needle the most for me.
If you take an account that did little sales business with you in the year prior and turn it into one of your top accounts, chances are you just grew significantly and put more money into your employer’s pockets as well as your own.
I also want to make sure that I spend X amount of time going after new account acquisitions. It is too easy to get caught up doing things that are not what you are best at or things that really aren’t allowing you to grow. I am good at using whatever support staff is available to help me take care of my accounts.
I also ask the support staff about customers of our business with whom I am not currently working and I ask staffers to recommend potential customers. You would be surprised by the excellent advice I have been given over the years, not only about what customers to go after, but about the best approach to use as well. It is always wise to seek counsel from others and I do that well.
I also ask my existing customers who they know who might benefit from working with me or who they could recommend. Some customers do not want their competitors becoming our customers, but others do not see everyone as a threat and will recommend me to a friend or set up a meeting with a potential customer.
A great introduction from a fellow contractor will usually get you a new account right away. That type of strong referral goes a long way.
If you are excellent at working with existing accounts and not the greatest hunter of new business, chances are your growth rate will be slower unless your accounts have lots of room to grow their business with you. If so, you will grow fine for a while, but sooner rather than later your growth will cap out. You need to put time into finding new accounts.
My advice for both the farmer and hunter is to do what you do best, but track your time and make sure you spend time where you can achieve the most growth.
If you’re a farmer and your accounts are mature, then work with your management team and find other accounts who are on board but have room to grow. Get permission to move them into your stable of accounts or meet with a hunter who needs some help maintaining his account base and see if you can work something out.
Find a way to do what you do best. Track your time and go get ’em!