In Seth's Godin's book Linchpin, Seth describes a Linchpin as somebody ‘who simply cannot be replaced because their role is just far too unique and valuable.'
Being indispensable means that the value you bring to your organisation can't be easily matched by the next person that walks through the door.
However, being indispensable isn’t about building processes and systems that no one else can understand. It's about doing the work that people think 'isn't in their job description' with generosity and enthusiasm.
As a sales pro, you're most likely someone who lives and dies (not literally I hope) by your numbers.
Living out your working life this way is tricky. You become your numbers, and too often organisations look at the wrong figures as a determinant of success.
Looking deeper into Seth Godin's idea about becoming a Linchpin, we uncover a more enjoyable way to go about our work.
When we work for more than the numbers, suddenly the numbers take care of themselves. We become far more secure in our job and confident of the value we offer on a daily basis.
Below are five of the most effective ways you can stand-out as a sales rep, and make yourself indispensable.
Understand why you’re important
There’s no doubt that advancements in technology are taking the place of jobs that were once important.
Often we hear that the importance of the salesperson is diminishing and salespeople are buying into this narrative too easily.
However, in B2B sales, we often deal with high-value items or orders that carry a significant sum - enough for someone to want to know all the information they can get, even when it’s not their own money.
It’s perceived that the online universe has given us all the information we need to make most decisions, and certainly it has to a degree, but at the end of the day, decision-makers are still starved of the information they need.
A strong, informative online presence is only part of the salesperson's tool-kit. The ability to answer questions with clarity and solve people’s problems in real-time is the sales person’s true strength.
So, what can we make from all of this?
SALESPEOPLE! Your job is important. You have the chance to genuinely help people out if you only you believe in your ability to do so. People still want a face to face interaction to make their buying decisions.
To say that your job is being swallowed up in a vortex of online apps is nothing more than a limiting belief.
So, our first actionable take-away on your path to becoming an indispensable sales-pro is to first understand the importance of your role and to know that you’re making a positive contribution.
The value you bring to the table is completely up to you.
Set your goals
How many times have you heard someone say this? Probably too often.
At the moment you either set goals, or you don't. If you do currently set goals, and you have full confidence that the goals you set are allowing you to perform at your best, then scroll down our next point on relationships.
However, if you think that goal setting is something you could improve on, then read on my friend.
Firstly, let’s talk about why we set goals. Without a goal, we’re aimless. We might be working hard, but what are we working towards?
You might be of the opinion that hard-work, day-in-day-out is the secret to success, and to a degree it is. But without a clear carrot in front of us - a worthwhile goal - our hard work lacks the fuel it needs for persistence.
We’ve all heard of the cliches around goal setting. The best of them all being SMART goals. Cliche yes, but specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based goals are a fantastic place for people to start if they struggle with goal setting.
But assuming we all know how to set goals, what keeps us on track with them? How do we stick to our goals and make sure they become a reality.
The answer is simple, but tricky in reality.
We need to simply state goals that we genuinely want to achieve.
For us in sales, we very quickly turn to sales figure oriented goals. ‘I want to make 30 more sales than last month’, or ‘I’m going to bring in $$$$$ worth of extra revenue this quarter’.
Are these the goals that deep-down we all want to achieve?
Or are they goals that look good to our peers when we talk about them?
Generally, money-based goals, unless they’re related to lifting us out of poverty aren’t strong enough to keep us engaged for the distance.
The indispensable sales rep doesn’t set goals that are about personal gain. Instead, they create goals and metrics to aim for that involve contribution.
The goal might be to ‘call 30 existing customers for a check-in to see if there’s anything you can do for them every week’
When our goal becomes focused on contribution, it’s something that keeps us motivated daily, with the sense of pressure involved with money-related goals non-existent. Magically, goals like these end up putting more money in our pockets anyway.
Enjoy building real relationships
As a sales pro, I’m sure you speak to new people on a daily basis, along with a number of people you deal with regularly.
Each interaction you make is either strengthening or weakening that relationship. So, let’s take a look at how to build real relationships.
Sales Consultant Andrew Nisbet talks about the importance of following the customer, not the sale in a recent article.
What Andrew means by this is that in order to see success in sales, we need to think of the customer first, before we think about ourselves.
The indispensable sales rep knows that in order to make a sale, they need to listen. They need to listen to what the customer needs, and what problems they need to be solved.
Too often we see people in sales who go straight for the jugular. Before they even know the prospect and what they need, they're talking about features and prices and how they can cut the ‘best deal possible’.
This might result in a few sales, but it won’t translate into long-standing relationships that are based on mutual value. Sales is a two-way street, people will only pay what they think your product is worth.
The indispensable sales rep is someone that takes pride in their relationships, and genuinely enjoys this part of their job. You don’t need to be a loud, over-confident extrovert - you simply need to be able to listen and be willing to build a real relationship first before you sell.
Be willing to learn
Simplicity is always the easiest way forward, and I’m hoping this article helps you remember what’s important. The next stage in becoming indispensable is to simply be willing to learn.
However, being willing to learn is about more than simply reading this article or the odd book.
Being willing to learn is an approach you can take into every aspect of your life. It’s about learning how to do a better job of what we’ve spoken about here. It’s about working out how you can improve your workflow to be more productive, or how to conduct yourself day-to-day.
If we’re not continually looking to learn, then we’re not progressing. Continual progression is one of the biggest factors of individual and business success.
A willingness to learn doesn’t mean that you need to go back to university or pay for an expensive course. It’s simply about letting go of the belief that you know everything and replacing it with a desire to learn new ways of doing your job.
A great way to start is by simply spending five minutes at the end of each day thinking about what you could have done better, and what challenged you.
From here, you’ll often uncover a number of helpful things you could do some light-reading on, or discuss with someone you trust.
If you’re not willing to learn and continually improve the way you go about your work, are you any different to anyone else?
Our last point of becoming someone that’s indispensable is being organised. The benefits of being organised go far beyond rolling up to work on time or having a calendar to track our work.
For sure, we’ll feel in control and confident in our work, but people often underestimate the value in prioritising each and every task they do.
To look into this further, understanding the Pareto Principle is important.
The Pareto Principle is an observation stating that 20% of our input results in 80% of our results.
Originally the term referred to Italy’s population, stating that 80% of the country's wealth was held by 20% of the population.
So, what can we take away from Pareto’s principle as a sales-rep on a journey to being indispensable? We can learn and understand what 20% of the tasks we do each day are responsible for 80% of our results.
Tedious tasks that don’t contribute to our results are inevitable, but being organised with clearly prioritised tasks allows us to focus on what’s important.
When we can easily track our workflow and view the results of each action we become pretty damn productive. We learn that we spend so much time on busywork, and not productive work.
The indispensable sales-rep know’s how to spend their time wisely, and doesn’t get caught up in meaningless unnecessary work.
How organised are you? We know a tool that will help...
Throughout this article we have looked at five ways you can become an indispensable sales-professional that stands out from the rest.
In summary, these are the five points.
Understand the importance of your job as a salesperson
Set-goals (goals that you’ll actually want to achieve)
Enjoy building real relationships
Be willing to learn - drop the belief you know everything
Organise to save time and be more productive
We hope that you took away some helpful insights from this article. What do you think about our five ways to become an indispensable sales pro? We would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Maybe you have a great idea we missed?
Our aim is to use this blog as a way to help salespeople - particularly professionals in the wholesale industry - thrive.
‘At Inzant, we provide wholesale professionals with a tool that will help generate sales and save time. Our easy to use iPad app is changing the game for our clients, and if you would like to learn more about what we do, simply get in touch below for a free demo.