There’s no shortage of sales advice for rookies. We can all talk about how to make a cold call or write the perfect prospecting email until we’re blue in the face. But we can do better than that. Sales Engine seeks to help salespeople sell more efficiently and effectively at all levels so we decided to launch a blog series that provides an insightful resource for salespeople early on in their career. The “My Start In Sales” series “tells it like it is” (namely, that we’ve all been there and done that — and that’s a good thing!). We will feature one veteran salesperson in a standard Q & A format every few weeks. We’re excited about sharing these successess and failures with you.
Current location: Miami Beach, Florida
Current gig: Sales expert and founder at Engage Selling
One word that best describes how you work: Acceleration
Current mobile device: iPhone
Favorite to-do list manager: Infusion CRM for client work. Moleskin for my life!
Tell us a little bit about what you do now & whether or not you currently work as part of a sales function at your company.
I am the President and Founder and only sales person at Engage Selling. For the last 15 years I have dedicated my work to helping accelerate sales performance for organizations and individuals worldwide. Our client routinely see gains of 25-40% per year for revenue and productivity growth. As president of the company I do all the selling. It’s the one job function I will never give up!
What was your first sales role?
Selling candy door to door in my neighbourhood to raise money for band trips and soccer tournaments! My dad refused to take the chocolate to work and sell it for me. I worked in sales roles all through university and then took a job full time after graduation as a financial planner.
How did you get the job?
By referral! Isn’t that the way all the best leads are found in sales?
Did you picture yourself working as a salesperson before you started?
My dad was in sales while I was growing up so I guess you could say it runs in the family
What are you currently reading?
- The Girl on the Train. (I always have a fiction book on the go.)
- Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?
I am an extroverted extrovert
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
- You are not your customer.
- The answers are not inside your office.
- Be Nice. Stay focused. Get to work.
What do you wish you had known before you started selling?
I wish I had realized how a powerful network could create accelerated results. I was scared to leverage relationships and referrals and as such didn’t use my network effectively when I started. I’m convinced this is why I struggled terrible in the first year of sales.
Do you have a story to share about a mistake you’ve made as a salesperson? What did you learn from this situation?
We make mistakes every time we lose a deal in sales. For most sellers this is 50%-67% of the time! We have to accept that. The key is recognizing what went wrong and correcting the mistake so it only happens once. Accept that mistakes will happen. Address them an move on. I think the biggest mistake we can make in sales is dwelling on the past rather than learning from it.
Have you ever encountered the “sleazy salesperson stereotype”? How do you respond to this?
I had a car dealer tell me that a specific model I wanted was not being made, when I had just test driven one in another dealership. I had a telephone company tell me they had access to a product when I knew full well their competitor had been given an exclusive and I’ve had a sales associates refuse to address me directly, choosing to defer all his comments to my husband. There are just three of many examples. In all cases I respond the same way: walk away and not given them the business. It’s not worth my energy to fight against or try and correct their behaviour. Walking away so they don’t get the sale is a more powerful message.
What is one tool or resource without which you would not be able to do your job?
My smart phone! I’m on the road so much that it’s my lifeline to customers, family, data and projects.
Colleen Francis is the Founder and President of Engage Selling. She is driven by a passion for sales – and results. A successful sales leader for over 20 years, she understands the challenges of selling in today’s market. Clients note her frank, no-nonsense approach to solving problems and addressing opportunities – an approach that deliver sales results.
Colleen is the best-selling author of popular sales books including the recent Nonstop Sales Boom. She is a Certified Sales Professional (C.S.P.) and an inductee into the Speaking Hall of Fame. Sales and Marketing Magazine has called Colleen and Engage Selling: one of the top 5 most effective sales training organizations in the market today!