It's the Apex Predator's favorite time of year. Leaves are turning. Football's on TV. And best of all, the kids are back in school. To celebrate, he breaks down 5 essential articles for every sales pro.

Hello again, fellow sales pros. I've got a great post for you today that will nourish both the mind and spirit of every sales professional. Quick intro before we begin: I'm not a parent. But many of my friends are. And for them, order has been restored in the universe.

My colleagues with school-age children have a special kind of joy this time of year. The joy of letting others supervise their progeny for 40 (or more) hours each week.

In their honor, I'm doing a back-to-school edition of the internet's most slept-on recurring guest sales column and picking 5 articles every young sales team should read, ASAP.

5 Essential Articles For Every Sales Pro

If I profiled you, shouts out. And 30-and-under sales reps, I'm not playing around.

These columns are actually worth your time, and quite frankly, I think you deserve better than the usual bulls*** clogging my social media feeds. Be forewarned: One or two are fairly high-level. If they go over your head ... too bad.

1) Best Kept Secrets of Successful Business People

Ever heard of Charlie Munger? I hadn't either until a friend emailed me this Quora answer by entrepreneur Michael Simmons.

Munger is a low-profile billionaire, close business associate of Warren Buffett and according to Bill Gates, "truly the broadest thinker [Gates] ever encountered ... he has no equal."

Up until that Gates quote, I had been anticipating a pitch for a self-help book. But that line stopped me dead in my tracks and had me muttering like Llewelyn Moss. "What's this guy supposed to be? The ultimate badass?"

As it turns out, Charlie Munger is the ultimate badass. Credit to Bain & Co. Chairman Orit Gadiesh for codifying the persona that got him there: the "Expert-Generalist."

By definition, an Expert-Generalist is “someone who has the ability and curiosity to master and collect expertise in many different disciplines, industries, skills, capabilities, countries, and topics., etc. 

He or she can then, without necessarily even realizing it, but often by design:

  1. Draw on that palette of diverse knowledge to recognize patterns and connect the dots across multiple areas. 
  2. Drill deep to focus and perfect the thinking."

Let's pause for a second.  First of all, I think it's important to embrace the elephant in the room. Yes, both the persona described and the description itself sound like the most pretentious, insufferable guy you knew in college.

Having said that, everyone knew that guy was a poser, right? If you start to think about it, things become clearer. I finally understood Bono after reading this article. Oh, he's a poser Expert-Generalist. It all makes sense now!

Chances are, the only true Expert-Generalists you've come across were on Jeopardy. (Ken Jennings, not a poser). So here's the difference: Posers talk, whereas at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder’s meetings, Charlie Munger "lets Buffett answer the questions, often times commenting, 'I have nothing to add.'”

Munger is the real deal. Read the Quora answer. Read his 22 Biases Report. Read everything this man has ever uttered. Then, strive to think and act like him for the rest of your life. That's your new mission.

2) Why Being the Most Connected is a Vanity Metric

Don't be fooled by the misleading title. The article actually endorses maximizing connections, but in a very strategic, diverse way

Michael Simmons, the same guy who wrote the first article, is behind this one as well. And it gets real deep, real fast.  If you're a VP of Sales who knows what he/she is doing and your sales team seems scared of connecting to people, this article is game-changing shit

The terminology alone is excellent. "Information broker" and "open network" are obscenely powerful phrases that can reshape the mindset of your sales team overnight. 

information broker

Bottom line: The common denominator of successful business people is an open network. That's a powerful, powerful truth. And nowhere is it more resonant than in sales. 

Not only is an open network the key to your sales team's personal and professional development, it's also possibly the most compelling value-add you can provide another human being. 

Point being: If you can market and sell your product as a powerful way to open people's networks, congratulations, you've stumbled upon your "secret sauce."

Literally entire industries have been built on enabling people to open their networks. The automobile industry, the telecommunications industry, the hotel and tourism industry (and, many would argue, the adult beverage industry) are examples. 

And that's to say nothing of the tech industry and Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Twitter, LinkedIn and so forth. Figure out how to work it into your sales and marketing - and boom - there's your sales cycle velocity's 5th gear.

As for the young sales exec -- take stock of the fact that you are coming up in the golden age of connectivity. Look at the opportunity you have!

In your sales outreach and professional networking, do not be afraid to go big, be bold and act as an authority. A LinkedIn connection request alone isn't going to open your network. Fear and temerity are the emotions of a closed network. VPs of Sales: Get your people to read this article and think like self-styled information brokers, and you'll change the game. 

3) How Long Does It Take to Develop a New Habit? 66 Days

The vast majority of sales contests and SPIFs are run with one goal in mind: energize the troops. Shock the monkey, so to speak. 

Here's the problem. "Shock the Monkey" is a great Peter Gabriel song, but it's an overly restrictive and simplistic approach to motivating and incentivizing sales team behavior.  

Short-sighted sales contests don't do the number one thing every codified behavioral sales exercise should strive to accomplish: train reps to form powerful, positive habits. As this article attests, it takes 66 days for the condition programming to set in and the brain to rewire itself. In sales terms, 66 business days equals out to 3 months, or the length of a quarter.

Hate running? Try doing it for 66 straight days and by the 67th, you'll be thinking about how badly you miss your daily jog. Hate cold calling? A bi-weekly 1 hour SPIF isn't going to change a thing. 

When you get down to it, this article is reason I agreed to guest author a monthly blog post on this site: it's the reason I buy into Ambition as a powerful sales training product. 

sales professional goals

If you're a sales rep, Ambition trains your mind to think about daily sales goals as competition. Each day, at least 3 new competitions begin: against daily benchmarks, one against your past performance and one against your peers. 

For the more industrious sales team, a manager can also set up a powerful 4th type of competition, a "Fantasy Sales League," which can run the length of a quarter or longer if need be. Obligatory product pitch aside (you're welcome, guys) the point here is that new hire ramp-up has a 3 month minimum for a reason.

You can't beat science. So codify and reinforce training, expectations and culture every single day for 3 months to ensure you get results, no matter who you are.

4) The Scientific Approach to Goal Setting

I love reading a sales blog post that is so good, I simply have nothing to add. Such is the case here. The author, a wise-beyond-his-years Marketo Account Executive named Nikita Ovtchinikov, qualifies this approach in the context of SaaS sales development but, let's be real, it applies to everybody (in all facets of your life, really).

Nikita, I see from your Twitter profile pic that you enjoy the musical stylings of Daft Punk. 

My company is looking to hire a new Sr. Account Executive. If you want a big-time, corporate sales gig in New York City, pass your info along to the Ambition guys. We're world-conquering B2B sales elites where I work, and we're always looking for goal-oriented young hustlers to join our team of ultimate badasses. Shoot me your resume, kid. I'll show you the ropes (and introduce you to Daft Punk provided you hit Year 1 quota).

5) No More Alligators: Tips for Effective Sales Development

As a reward for making it this far, treat yourself to the realest cold email deconstruction you'll ever see. Then search your inbox for 'alligator', find the capital offenders and seek justice however you see fit.

captain higgins

Like Captain Higgins above, Quotafactory CEO Peter Gracey calls out the myriad crimes against humanity perpetrated by the email's hapless writer. Then he twists the intellectual knife so that you know exactly how "assumptive, slightly obnoxious, and border[ing] on entrapment" the content in your cookie-cutter emails are. 

This post warmed my heart and went "Back to Back" on a tactic I've ranted about a time or two. It's easily the best "diss content marketing" I've seen from a SaaS company. Mr. Gracey, the sales software industry needs more people like you. 

Final Advice for Young Sales Teams

When it comes to sales knowledge-sharing, there are 6 ways to make you both sound smarter and actually become smarter. 

  1. Talk less.
  2. Read more.
  3. Listen more.
  4. Watch more.
  5. Do more.
  6. Close more.

If you're new to the sales profession and you haven't closed a damn thing in your life, you need to do two things first and foremost: know your role and shut your mouth. That's a direct quote from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, the Poet Laureate of the United States of People Who Are Entertaining as Hell.

Otherwise, you run the risk of checking yourself into the "smackdown hotel." And best believe it's not the Hyatt. It's a flea-bitten Motel 6. Because your candy ass let your ego sell your potential success up the river. 

Sales VPs, Directors and Managers, make sure your biggest, baddest closers get your back, fellas. In the event some young kid runs his or her mouth, you need one of your most savage, veteran Account Execs to take that lass down a peg or two.

Or just call me. The guys at Ambition can get you my number. That's all I've got. Until next time, keep hustling jabronis and enjoy a tailgate or two between now and the next time I talk to you.

Read More from the Apex Predator

The Apex Predator writes regularly for Ambition. He has a contractual obligation to recommend scheduling a demo to see Ambition's sales management platform. Read his previous articles below.

  1. Sales Motivation from the Apex Predator
  2. More Sales Motivation from the Apex Predator
  3. Sales Rescue with the Apex Predator
  4. The Return of the Apex Predator
  5. The Apex Predator's 5 Essential Sales Articles
  6. Sales Mailbag with the Apex Predator
  7. 15 Real Songs to Pump Up Your Sales Reps
  8. Why You're Losing the War for Talent
  9. The 50 Worst Things Happening in Sales Right Now
  10. The Apex Predator Explains the Laws of Power

Ambition Software: Develop Millennial Sales Talent

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs every sales organization department, data source, and performance metric on one easy system.

Ambition clarifies and publicizes real-time performance analytics for your entire sales organization. Using a drag-and-drop interface, non-technical sales leaders can build custom scorecards, contests, reports, and TVs.

Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review, AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization), and USA Today as a proven solution for managing millennial sales teams. Hear from our customers below.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
  2. Filemaker: Brad Freitag. Vice-President of Worldwide Sales.
  3. Outreach: Mark Kosoglow. Vice-President of Sales.
  4. Cell Marque: Lauren Hopson. Director of Sales & Marketing.
  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

Watch Product Walkthroughs:

  • ChowNow. Led by Vice-President of Sales, Drew Woodcock.
  • Outreach. Led by Sales Development Manager, Alex Lynn.
  • AMX Logistics. Led by Executive Vice-President ,Jared Moore.

Read Case Studies:

  1. Clayton HomesHBR finds triple-digit growth in 3 sales efficiency metrics. 
  2. Coyote Logistics: Monthly revenue per broker grew $525 in 6 months.
  3. Peek: Monthly sales activity volume grew 142% in 6 months.
  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

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