Gumption Can Keep You Afloat, But Seek Leadership

by Susan Walsh, President and CEO, Sales-Link Inc.

I am fortunate to have had some really great experiences throughout my sales career. I have very meaningful stories that I long to share with new sales people who might gain from the inspiration and support.

It is very likely that if you are in sales or lead generation, you have been thrown into the deep end without being taught to swim first. Companies hire salespeople to do the job and at times don’t provide proper training and guidance. Depending on your background, you may very well have a decent amount of sales experience and probably even some training, but chances are that you haven’t been trained specifically for the job you were hired for in your particular company, and you are just treading water.

It goes without saying that if you’ve accepted a sales job, you must at least have some gumption. You know, that elusive thing that Iris refers to in the movie “The Holiday” when she finally decides to break up with her despicable boyfriend and he asks her, “What exactly has got into you?” Iris replies: “I don’t know, but I think what I’ve got is something slightly resembling gumption!” Gumption is the spirited initiative and resourcefulness that enterprising salespeople need to survive in the business. Well, if you have that, you’ll most likely get yourself into all sorts of tangles and webs and sales opportunities…good and bad, but at least you’ll be bravely out there.

It’s unfortunate that today’s world doesn’t allow for some adjustment time to get acclimated and comfortable in the job before being thrown to the sharks. Looking back, that was a real luxury once-upon-a-time, but today’s climate is a bit more harsh. So it’s best to be prepared. Find a process that you identify with (as long as it’s a good one) and keep following it, because at least, a consistent process will show those above your level that you are in control, and that you have a plan.

If you are really fortunate, there may be a time when a strong leader will use real-time life experiences to teach you what you need to know. Ross Perot was noted for putting great life-lessons from his personal experiences on full display for his students and protegees. I was one of the lucky ones who learned from him. I think that’s where my initial gumption and flair for sales evolved into a genuine craft!