I finally got my chance at Leadfunnel.ph when we started a few years ago. Since our customers are CEOs and heads of sales or marketing of sales-driven businesses, I got to meet masters of the craft. It turns out sales is the lifeblood of our company and the companies we serve.
Surprisingly, my journey of learning sales has made an impact in areas beyond my professional life. Here are three of those areas:
Formal education and Filipino machismo have conspired to ingrain in us some habits which are detrimental to selling. School is a world where the winners are the #1 in math, basketball, debate or art. The Filipino alpha male is likewise the power at the center of his universe.
In the world of sales, you win only when your customer wins. And during that engagement, your customer is the center of the universe. It is her problem and her business that matters first and foremost. Your solution only matters in relation to your customer's problem.
Real life is closer to the world of sales than to the classroom or the delusions of the Filipino macho man. The only way to be a good friend, parent our spouse is to put the Other ahead of the Ego. Sales is a great training ground for this virtue.
The comedian Russell Peters is hilarious when he pokes fun at Asians. In this gig, he jokes about how we Filipinos always try to find a common ground with people we talk to. Filipino culture in this case is a fertile ground for great sales people (and nurses). Empathy is central to our culture the same way it is central to sales.
You can only be successful in sales if you put yourself in the shoes of your customers. You have to speak their language, understand what they value, and find their biggest pain points. In B2B selling, it is important to understand the motivations not only of your internal champions, but also of your potential saboteurs and stubborn gatekeepers.
The world would be a much better place if more of us could see the world through the eyes of others, especially those who we disagree with. To preach this is great. But it's even better to give people a way to practice this habit. In my experience, doing sales is exactly this - empathy practiced in the professional world, easily brought over to empathy in personal life.
When I started doing cold calling, I had more butterflies in my stomach than a high school kid calling his crush for the first time. This was weird, because at that point I already had battle scars from years of project management and people management, and had killed off whatever shyness I had.
It turns out people have all sorts of irrational fears and emotions which affect work (fear of cold calling is particularly common among engineers). These reside the reptilian part of our brain - a part which doesn't know how to obey instructions. Here's what worked for me instead:
- Sleep 7-8 hours everyday
- Eat healthy
- Daily meditation/prayer
- Regular sports
- Build and grow healthy relationships
- Maintain a to do list and relentlessly crush one item after another (I use CRM + mindmap + kanban similar to this)
The last thing is sometimes difficult without the foundation of a healthy life, in all aspects. I have been trying to do all these things for many years, but I had to take my game up a notch when I started sales. The work involved in sales was very different to what I was used to. Aside from the grind of learning something totally new, I had to deal with the emotions of getting lots of No's for each Yes, and the suspense of the slow buildup of decisions inside companies.
These are the experiences of a newbie with no natural aptitude for sales. Things are better now. But I'm thankful that I had to undergo that difficult period. I had to become effective at sales for Leadfunnel.ph, and I had no time for laziness, discouragement or lack of focus. The productivity habits and emotional self-mastery I gained have benefited not only the business but how I deal with the people around me and how I contribute to the communities I belong to.