It’s a well-traveled path.

You took a job in entry-level sales with the hope of progressing to a closing role. You’ll start out on the phones. You work long hours, get hung up on all day – half the company doesn’t know your name. It’s a thankless grind, and a lot of times you should hate it.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that one day you can become a quota-carrying closer. That ultimate prize is a bigger paycheck, more clout in the company’s social circles, and a major step towards your future career goals. Ultimately, it’s about validation. You made it – you’ve ascended!

Only problem? It’s crazy hard to do. Not everyone will make it, and almost nobody will do it as quickly as they want. Your VP of Sales has a number to deliver to his CEO, and he’s not going to fail because he promoted the wrong closers.

So how do you make sure you’re next in line?

(Check out our Sales Career Paths Chart to find out where your sales career may be headed.)


1) First in, last out

Most people put goal attainment first on a list like this, but there’s more to it than that. Be present, seemingly always. I don’t want to get all JFK on you, but be selfless. Earn your boss’s trust. Prove he can count on you by putting in the work.

2) Master your product

Don’t wait to get called up before you learn your product. Listen in on sales calls with the closers and study your marketing content and collateral. Know the answers to prospect questions and objections. When the next closing role opens up, does the boss want to train someone new or plug someone in that’s already trained? Don’t let there be a question.

3) Develop relationships

Know and build relationships with the closers and the people you want to work with. Find a sales mentor. There’s a subconscious at play here: people see you with that group and start associating you with that group.

Another point here that is often overlooked is to build relationships with the rest of the company, too. Know your support team, your engineers, product, and marketing. Develop your soft skills by getting to know every member of the company. It’s good practice – and it will pay dividends later.

4) Master your craft

Your company should have a sales methodology. Whether it’s Sandler, Challenger, Snap, Spin, whatever – master it. Be able to have conversations with the sales team and your prospects about all of these books. Read every one. Be a student to the art of selling. Know at least the basic principles of every high-selling sales book around.

5) Be the best.

This might come first in some peoples’ lists. I think it should be a given, and that’s why I put it last. You want to get noticed? Make more calls. Set more meetings. Source more wins. You’re judged on dials and meetings – so make more dials and book more meetings.

Perform in these 5 areas and you’ll be on your way. Or don’t, because the department head probably doesn’t really care if you do it or not. Look around the sales pit: there are probably 10 other people gunning for that same job. One of you will figure it out.

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