How to Take Ownership of Your Sales Career

In all of our Write Your Own Ticket™ programs at Influence Seminars, we encourage participants to take ownership of their careers by embracing an entrepreneur mindset.


This mindset was first instilled in me at the very first pharmaceutical company I worked for (as a pharmaceutical sales professional).


I’d like to lay out the process they used to get me thinking like an entrepreneur and, therefore, taking ownership of my territory (business) from the very first day.


I would encourage you, at the same time, to model this process to go from where you currently see yourself, to taking full ownership of your own territory. It’s time to start treating your sales territory like it’s your very own business.


I spent the first two weeks studying the products I would be selling once I hit the field. Yes, full immersion and self-paced home study to develop my product knowledge. The consequence if I didn’t master the content? Lost opportunity. The stakes were high.


First lesson in entrepreneurship: Take full responsibility for your own success.


Challenge: How well do you know your products and what are you going to do, on your own time, to strengthen your product knowledge?

Sad fact: Time and again, across industries, I see sales professionals make excuses for why they can’t find the time to improve their product knowledge.

Reality check: It’s your business. If you don’t know your products/services, you go out of business. Make the time, do the work, grab every second of the day you can to fully master the information. Make it bathroom reading, get up an hour early, turn off the TV, get your head out of your smart phone, give up a weekend golf game. Just get it done.


I spent the next two weeks at the corporate office in full immersion training with eleven other new hires that had never been in the pharmaceutical industry before. It was go time – do or die. And I assure you, there were many times during that two weeks we thought we might die. It was role-play hell. Eight hours straight, scenario after scenario, in front of a video camera, all to be securitized by your fellow inmates (coworkers), to make sure you stayed humble.


We hated it, but I guarantee you one thing, after two weeks of those eight-hour role-play gauntlets, there was nothing we couldn’t handle once we stepped into our territories. Nothing!


Second lesson in entrepreneurship: Get really uncomfortable and push yourself until the uncomfortable becomes second nature. Pay your dues to hone your skills. Practice, practice, practice.

Challenge: Spend an hour a day, for the next two weeks, roleplaying with a colleague or manager, in front of a video camera and then get feedback (your own and theirs).

Sad fact: Most people won’t do it, and that’s why their competitors are crushing them in their accounts.

Reality check: It’s your business. If you can’t handle you everything that comes at you, and handle it masterfully, you go out of business. When you’re wasting time on Facebook, your competitor is practicing relentlessly, and he will take your business.


Once I hit the territory, we were required to call on 10-12 doctors and 6 pharmacies a day. “The right doctor, with the right message, the right number of times.” That was our mantra. We were held accountable to that activity level for a reason: we needed to learn what hustle looked like, and the results that hustle could produce.  They knew that human nature is lazy, and they knew we would fail with anything less than that effort.


In hindsight, I’d be willing to bet many of my competitors weren’t keeping that pace. Even with that intense level of commitment and hustle, it still took me more than four months before I saw even one script written by a single doctor. I almost quit. So glad I didn’t.


Third lesson in entrepreneurship: It’s all about the hustle. Day in, and day out. You must have a greater commitment and work ethic than your competitor. In this game, talent is almost obsolete because as the old saying goes . . .


“Work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.”


Challenge: Increase your call activity by just 10% over the next month. Then raise it to 20% the following month, and so on. You’re probably only operating at 40% capacity right now, if you’re honest with yourself.

Sad fact: Most people quit when they’re mentally fatigue.

Reality check: Regain control of your mental state, adjust your focus and go a few more rounds before calling it a day. You have more in you than you’re using.


So there you have it - three strategic ways to develop and embrace and entrepreneur mindset, and take ownership of your sales career. Assess where you currently are and adjust your activity, commitment level, work ethic and mindset accordingly. You will be amazed at the results in your business.