Many salespeople want to become sales managers, where they can pass along some of the things that have helped them become successful. I don't think that's always a good idea. I often say making a salesperson the sales manager is often the best way to lose a great salesperson.

Why? Many times salespeople aren't capable of managing themselves, let alone others. Often, great salespeople are not well organized, but they have great people skills. That's why there is nothing wrong with salespeople remaining in the field their whole careers.

Managing one's self is the most important job any salesperson will ever undertake. In learning this discipline, you will find that the job opportunities open up and your production is enhanced. Most salespeople are self-starters and must do their own coordination. Don't wait for things to happen - make them happen.

The seven keys to good self-management are: plan your work, schedule your activities, prepare to accomplish your daily goals, be a self-starter, have a balanced sales effort, keep good records and develop sales self-evaluation. These seven key factors are the backbone of good self-management.

Let's examine each one. Think about how you are using each of these skills.

Plan your work

Plan your work and work the plan. It says it all. Planning means many things. Plan your routing and the calls you will make during the next day. Planning starts by thinking. Think about what you want to accomplish and how you'll be able to meet your daily goals. Think in terms of your customers' needs and perceptions. Plan monthly and yearly goals and how you will move towards these objectives on a weekly and daily basis.

Don't leave anything to chance. Plan how to help customers become more profitable, plan how you will get your ideas across to prospects, plan how you can show how the services your company offers benefits the customer and how they help reduce their costs. Plan how to explain why your prices may be higher than others, but the purchase price doesn't always reflect true price of an item and plan to create a daily plan.

Schedule your activities

Planning and scheduling go hand in hand. Not all the things you have to do in a day are equal in their importance to meeting your goals.

Prepare to accomplish your daily goals

The single biggest reason to prepare is that it reduces fear. It mobilizes our abilities. It creates the focus needed to make our goals a reality. Preparation allows us to have the confidence and enthusiasm needed to make things happen. If you prepare well to do anything, you will do it.

Prepare yourself with product knowledge - on your products and your competition's products.

Prepare yourself every day for every sales call. Prepare yourself psychologically and physically. Prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Be a self-starter

Procrastination is human nature, but letting things happen in their own time is the best way to lose the confidence of a customer. Self-starters are able to control their feelings or mask them when it is necessary. Getting yourself in to a good frame of mind is essential to obtaining sales. Always have a definite purpose and reason to make the first call in the morning. This doesn't allow you be sidetracked with a morning fire that must be attended. You are not a fireman; you are a salesperson with goals that can only be accomplished by hard, purposeful work. Stay away from the office. It's so hard to leave once there. Before you know it, it's 3:30 p.m. and too late to do anything. Don't allow personal issues to interfere with your daily planned routine.

Have a balanced sales effort

Many times, salespeople have certain products they continually sell. It's easy to get lazy. A balanced sales effort helps you to sell all the products and services available. Every customer is different and has different requirements; tailor your presentation to suit the customer you are calling on. Discover what the customer wants by asking questions. In this process you discover the customers needs on the call before you present a solution. You'll never just pick one product to sell everyone.

A balanced sales effort also helps create a strong customer base. While many salespeople focus on getting new customers, increasing business with existing ones often gets overlooked. One of the biggest mistakes is spending too much time with people who shop by price only. Many times, salespeople spend too much time with these people and get nothing for their efforts but heartache.

Keep good records

Most salespeople will find this the hardest to accomplish. Yet it's through good records that you can discover the buying motives of customers. Having a good history on any account shows where they have been and even where they may go. Keep a job log of pending and working jobs to make sure customers are supplied the items that will keep them working. Be an extension of their business.

Develop sales self-evaluation

Sales self-evaluation is a way to improve selling skills. Just prior to making the call, review everything you plan to do on the call. Review the names of the people you will see and take a look at your record and log for this account. When you complete the call, take time to review how it went. Ask yourself how you did on those things you are trying to improve. Performing a sales self-evaluation is like having the sales manager along on every call, giving you a review.

Whether you are selling for a contractor, wholesaler or manufacturer, the art of self-management is important to your overall success. Begin to hone these skills and you will improve your ability to sell anything.