Are you brave enough to ask this question?
Do you consider yourself to be brave? Wait, let me ask the question this way…
On the scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being completely fearless), rate your bravery.
You might ask yourself, “Are we talking personally or professionally? Does he mean my bravery when it comes to cold calling or is he talking about striking up a conversation with a stranger at a party?” Actually, neither. What I had in mind was something more sales -related:
Are you brave enough to ask, “Who am I?”
My guess is, the only feedback you get regarding your selling skills and overall sales persona comes from your boss or sales manager. Even then, it’s very likely that the manager sees only a very limited part of who you actually are as a salesperson. My, “Who am I?” question dives deeper than that. Are you brave enough to ask for direct input from both questions and coworkers?
Personally, my experience has been that very few people can hear constructive criticism without taking it, well, personally. They might be brave enough to ask (and good for them) but the comments wound and are not received in the spirit in which they were intended, not to mention requested.
Still, we must know. It’s important that salespeople understand their failings and shortcomings. That’s the only way we can improve. Which would you rather have happened, have a client tell you you’re not a very good listener or lose the entire account because they didn’t feel heard? Pick one.
Here’s a starting point. Start with the question, “What can I do better?” Offer suggestions, covering everything from your communication style to responsiveness to the aforementioned listening skills. But don’t stop there…
Even if you get straight A’s from clients and co-workers, never stop improving. Go back to the basics and challenge yourself to relearn those simple lessons of sales. When you leave a sales call, ask “Did I do more listening than talking? Did I command the conversation?” Ditto for social situations.
In the end, who you are is someone brave enough to ask, “Who am I?” You are an imperfect sales rep chasing perfection through ongoing improvement. It takes courage to ask the hard question and courage to hear the hard answers.