“The minute you stop working, is the minute your success stops.” – Ian Koniak in today’s Tip 1017
Do you have what it takes to make something out of nothing?
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today’s tip comes from Ian Koniak. Ian is President and Founder of Ian Koniak Sales Coaching, which helps AE’s go from good to great by mastering the mindset, habits, and skills needed to perform at the highest level in sales. Prior to starting his business, Ian was the #1 AE in the Enterprise division at Salesforce. Here he is:
Ian Koniak: Good morning. It’s Ian Koniak and today’s tip of the day is, in order to achieve success, especially at the highest level, you must first pay your dues. So what does pay your dues mean? In most companies, it means before you’re given the best territory or you have a huge opportunity with top accounts. You are going to need to prove yourself and take on a really difficult assignment. When I first started in sales, I had no sales experience, but I had a lot of heart. I had a lot of energy and I had really strong motivation. Did I get the best territory? Absolutely not. Why? Because I hadn’t shown history of success. I hadn’t achieved success at a high level. They knew I was capable in terms of my personality, but I didn’t have the results to back up getting the top territory.
So I was put into Korean town, and that was a territory that had been underperforming for years. The longest rep had lasted was like six months in that territory, they would all quit. The territory had no current customers. It was all new logos and they said, you want to show you’re capable of sales, go take this territory. Here’s the opportunity. Did I bitch and complain? Absolutely not. I was just happy to be given the opportunity to prove myself. And that’s exactly what I did. The first year I was cold calling, going up and down buildings, getting thrown out by security guards. A lot of times people didn’t even speak English in Korean town, and I get the door slammed on me simply because I wasn’t the same ethnicity. It was a really hard assignment, but that’s what made me stronger. That rejection. That grit. That difficulty is actually what made me successful initially in sales.
So after about a year, then I asked for another territory and I asked for the Santa Monica territory. And at that point, my sales manager said, “You know what? You’ve earned it. Here you go.” So I didn’t get that going in. Once I got to Santa Monica, it was a whole different ballgame, and I started crushing it. But that first year, it was just so much, just rejection and I thought I was going to quit many times. And I wasn’t selling for probably three to six months. But I was putting in the work and eventually, it all clicked. And then I got the bigger opportunity.
Same thing happened when I went to Salesforce. I had to apply four times and had three times. I didn’t even make it past the recruiter until I finally met a VP that would give me a chance to be on their team. Why? Because I didn’t have software sales experience and so they didn’t want to take a chance on me. But luckily, one guy saw potential in me and got to give me an opportunity. Well, what happened? Same exact thing. He didn’t care that I did well for at Ricoh for ten years. He said, “You haven’t proven yourself in software.” So I got a territory that was doing about $100,000 a year. Most of the other territories were doing 2 to 5 million. Did I complain? No. Sure. I wanted a better territory, but I hadn’t gone in and proven myself.
So I took what that territory had been doing and fortunately ended up closing a very big deal that year, finished over plan, and then the next year. Sure enough, I got a new manager and I thought I’m entitled to ask for a better territory. He kept me in the same area. Crappy accounts. I was so pissed. I felt entitled. At that point, I said, “You know what? I’ve paid my dues.” And he said, “You haven’t done anything. You’ve only been here for a year. I don’t know you from Adam.” It was a guy from outside the company, and I felt so bitter all year. You know what happened? Instead of me being embracing the opportunity and wanted to go out and prove myself, I actually fell on my face because I wasn’t working as hard because I was bitter about the assignment and bitter about the fact that I didn’t have a better territory.
I’ll tell you one thing with paying your dues, it never stops. The minute you stop working, is the minute your success stops. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing this 10, 15, 20 years, you are always having to continue working hard, even when you have a great church. And when you have a great assignment, if you don’t put in the work and the time and pay your dues, even in that top opportunity, your results are going to falter.
So paying your dues never really stops. But specifically in getting the best accounts and getting the top assignment, you really have to prove yourself to any organization. So for those of you listening, I would encourage you, if you’re in a tough spot. If you really are thinking things, you don’t have a fair chance. Maybe you don’t like the way your manager is. Maybe the products or services you sell aren’t great. Maybe your territory doesn’t have the opportunity. I’ll ask you to look yourself in the mirror and say, Do I have what it takes to make something out of nothing? Am I equipped for this challenge?
I promise you the minute you can prove yourself under the hardest circumstances that’s when opportunities will continue to flow your way. Attitude of entitlement will never serve you. Got to pay your dues. Know exactly who you are. Dig deep in those difficult, challenging moments. Especially right now when we’re dealing with a pandemic and so much uncertainty in the world of business and the world in general, it’s more important than ever to say, Do I have what it takes to step up and respond to this challenge? That’s who I am and believe in yourself. Hope you guys have an awesome week guys. Take care.
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