By Jerry Damron, DCSI Consultants
The words, ‘you’re only as good as your last sale’ still float around in my mind as I think of what it takes to be successful as a sales executive in the EMS industry. Knowing how brutal this business can be, it only makes sense that if you want security, you need to develop your skillset. Security doesn’t come from having a fantastic job with a wonderful company and respected boss, all of which lead to the promise of a stable career and future. The truth is that for any sales professional, security comes from your own developed professional skills.
During my long tenure of executive recruiting, the highest percentage of searches and placements have been sales professionals at all levels. I’ve worked with sales executives with a couple of years of experience and with others that have 20-30 years of sales experience. The single determining factor in a sales person’s success is something that is in their control: the ability to close deals consistently. How this is executed varies but the common elements for success include the ability to build credibility quickly, solid business acumen, and sincere tenacity. The lack of sincerity and genuine interest in providing a service that leads to closing sales can absolutely become the death of a career.
As a global executive recruiter, I’m always looking for professionals that are vibrant, love being challenged, are not complacent and have a true passion for courting new customers and closing sales through mutually beneficial means. Unfortunately, along the way, I’ve witnessed many sales professionals with decades of experience slowly sabotage their careers. I’ve seen executives cycle out of their value simply through a slow metamorphosis from cutting edge and embracing challenge, to complacency and comfort.
Most never see what’s coming and are blindsided. In many cases their positions are eliminated, some for lack of performance, some get laid off, some as a result of a merger, others for more ambiguous and generalized reasons – to avoid confrontation. All however, are essentially due to a sales person losing their passion for selling and getting overly comfortable.
Seeing the premature death of a sales career for someone I’ve known directly or have followed indirectly, is a reality and it happens all too often. In some cases I’ve seen high level sales executives take time to evaluate themselves and eventually find lower level jobs where they’re back carrying a bag, cold calling, working in the trenches. Many rekindle their spark and after a few years find their way back into higher level positions where they’re able to take their past and convert it to a more powerful and meaningful leadership role. Some never leave sales and move onto other more impactful roles for themselves. But how can you as a sales professional ever really have job security?
In my professional opinion, the saying, you’re only as good as your last sale isn’t the right thought process to embrace. Rather spending the time to embrace the sales cycle, sell products and services that you’re passionate about; develop and hone your salesmanship through experience, emulate your mentors, continually take sales courses such as Miller Heiman training. Do whatever it takes to feel passionate about what you are doing. While there are always elements of sales success attributed to being in the right place at the right time, good fortune — job security in sales is something you build on your own and must work hard to maintain. Certainly, why you’ve joined a company and what they have to offer may change. Your employer might pull a service or a line that you’ve been selling, or exit a vertical product market you’ve been selling. That’s out of your control.
Someone who has deep sales experience and a long tenure of closing deals through relationships and value add, has created their true job security. In the highly competitive EMS industry, job security doesn’t come from being politically connected within your company and– even worse — feeling overly comfortable. In the end as a sales professional, your job is to sell, to close deals and generate revenue. The best sales professionals will always land on their feet and past performance can absolutely be repeated in new roles with the next employer.
If you find yourself slipping into the abyss of complacency, or worse, you’re already there, take action to revive your passion before you end up blindsided. It may take pursuit of a new vertical market, transferring to a new division in your company or working with a new leader.
DCSI is known as being one of the most trusted and respected global executive search firms in the electronics industry. To learn more visit www.dcsiconsultants.com.