When I started in my B2B sales career at 23, I had some confidence under my belt because I had successfully sold hundreds of handmade holiday ornaments as a kid, run a lemonade stand seasonally, and sold women’s clothing in my grandmother’s high-end clothing store. It’s taken years for me to realize that my foundation was set for professional selling – I didn’t have that lack of confidence thing that I do still run into when onboarding or talking with new sales reps.
Even with that foundation, there were hundreds of things for me to learn. Since I can only pick three I am choosing those that I think are extremely important and perhaps more important than some of the rest.
No matter what there is to learn, I’ll debate with anyone on what an admirable profession sales is, and how more young people should consider B2B professional selling as a career. If you do, here are my top 3 things to think about:
Listen More, Talk Less
The worst thing to be around is a new ____(fill in the blank with any profession) who thinks they know everything. That goes for sellers too. It is OK to keep some of your comments to yourself and become the best listener on Earth, even if you are not normally that way. Buyers don’t want to hear you go on and on, and neither do your new co-workers, supervisor, executives, and peers. In a fairly short period of time, my co-workers shared that with me and fortunately, I did listen long enough to learn that.
Negotiate Your Offer
This is especially for, but not limited to women sellers because the trend is that most women do not attempt to negotiate salaries. I intentionally got into a sales career after seeing how financially limiting my teaching career was. I wanted equal commissions for equal work – especially since I was the head of my household. Like my male counterparts who were dads, I was mom and dad – so if I didn’t make a sale, we didn’t have money. Back then, you began on straight commission with a “draw” – I simply accepted what they offered and did not ask for more. It is a HUGE mistake. For starters you need to know what comparable positions pay at competitors and somehow see if you can find out a ballpark idea of pay for others at the company you are joining. If you are told that everyone gets the same salary, perhaps you can negotiate options, or extra time off. Just be sure to look into this as because the better you negotiate in the beginning the more money you’ll make in your career.
Connect with Others in Your Industry
I spent all my time in the beginning in the company I worked for and at home, so I didn’t have the opportunity to meet others in my industry. When I was 23 it was before LinkedIn and we used the telephone or met people in person. If I could do it again, I’d spend more time making connections – something easy to do today with modern tools. Once I was connected to more people in my industry, I wish I would have found ways to stand out above the noise – something now easier to do as well.
Bonus – Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
Be sure to congratulate yourself with the small victories – reaching that first buyer and having a valuable conversation, or seeing your first deal all the way through. Ramping up in selling is hard, but the rewards are huge.
This blog originally appeared on
Lori Richardson helps leaders of mid-sized companies with more sales leads and with better sales leadership as founder and CEO of Score More Sales. She offers a sales “EKG” to help determine the health of a sales team, then offers specific solutions for sales growth and for more velocity. Additionally, Lori is president of WOMEN Sales Pros(R) helping more smart women get into sales and sales leadership.