After leaving university, like most graduates, I was at a complete loss as to what to do. Whilst the golden ticket seemed to be a place in one of the scarce graduate programs within a large multi-national like Aldi (the thought of the $85k salary and a brand new Audi seemed too good to be true and from recent posts apparently that was the case), I felt that was too much of a cog-in-the-machine set up for me.
So, what to do?
There aren’t a lot of opportunities in the UK (and especially in Glasgow) so I eventually found myself in a street-selling ‘direct marketing’ role. The majority of people automatically think, ‘why would someone do that job?’, and believe me, I thought that too. However, selling energy on the streets of Glasgow in the cold of winter definitely teaches you some life skills that can never be forgotten.
The principles of sales that I learned can be carried across many industries and functions. Without further ado, here are the three main life (and sales) lessons that I carry with me to this day;
1 – Attitude
We have all heard the term, ‘attitude over aptitude’ and I am increasingly seeing my clients take this stance when hiring sales professionals. The first thing I learned in a ‘direct marketing’ sales role is to take 100% accountability and how to flip negativity around.
After being told “no” for the 100th time day after day (and not always in the politest of manor), it really taught me first-hand how to maintain professionalism.
In recruitment specifically, we are constantly dealing with, well, bad news. Whether a candidate lets you down or a client pulls a role just as you find the perfect candidate, it’s important to keep your head up, move forward and keep a smile on your face. This is what separates the good from the great.
“Don’t let the result dictate your attitude, ensure your attitude dictates the result.”
2 – Work Ethic
I am a firm believer that anyone can do anything they set their mind to. You don’t have to be the most intelligent, educated or naturally talented person in the room if you can simply out-work everyone else. In my first sales role, you were expected to work to your absolute maximum every day and maintain the mind-set that you can always work harder. Tricks like dividing up your day, setting mini-targets and using personal motivations to maintain a solid work ethic is what used to keep 19 year-old me focused on the job at hand – it still does to this day.
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
3 – Student Mentality
In other words, never give up your willingness to learn. Often in sales, we compare ourselves to the person making the most sales, and simply try to copy what they’re doing – but it goes deeper than that. You need to keep learning, and you need your own flair. It doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of a fortune 100 company or the guy that cleans the toilets; everybody is in a constant state of developing. We all have our own personal motives for wanting to achieve our goals. So, how could we do that consistently? Learn faster, lose quicker and keep moving forward.
“Every person you meet knows something that you don’t.”
All in all; attitude, work ethic and owning that “student mentality” is what keeps me going on a day to day basis. I take pride in my recruitment style by attracting talent with similar values and attitude in the workplace.
If you’re a job seeker who is in the market for your next sales role, or a company looking to hire likeminded talent, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time…