In these tough times, sales is the lifeblood of most companies. Without good salespeople, a company’s human potential and intellectual assets are worth little. Actually, we’re all having to become salespeople for our companies, interacting more with strangers and more assiduously maintaining relationships.

Surprisingly, many salespeople don’t seem to understand that by knowing a few basic rules, even a person of average intellect and skill can become a star. As most of you well know, a down market is a bear market – so my tips for fighting back and winning in the sales game are called BEARWRESTLING.

Believe in yourself – all business is about people and their impressions of each other – if you’re an outstanding individual, you WILL be noticed and sought after

Educate yourself in a business vertical, to be knowledgably conversant with a client – my “skill silos” are IT, HR, and media

Act with confidence and be intelligent in your approach – my formula is to start with the top people in a company, move to the business managers, then go see the people doing the actual business. This way I know a lot more about the company and its “hot buttons” long before I meet the person in charge

Relationships are key to success. Start with a high-volume target for initial meetings – I meet 20 new people a week as my personal target, then ratchet up the quality to maintain the people you really get along with

Win-win sales. It’s easy to say and hard to do. Look for customers who really value you and understand your service, otherwise walk away

Reliability, punctuality, and hard work are “keys” to success – boring but important

Even when there are problems and disasters, always follow up with a customer

Spell out for the vendors and delivery team what the client expects, and check progress and know delivery status – be responsible for your own quality checks

Train yourself and your team all the time, so that you’re not only ahead of the game but you can also deliver what you’re talking about

Listen to your customers, and when you talk offer them solutions

Innovation, without which you’ll be left behind by the competition. But “I” could also stand for Imitation, where you learn and take a little bit from each of the best

Negativity must always be left at the door – you’ll win contracts and get promoted quickly if you learn how to channel your emotions and keep looking forward

Goal setting allows you to focus on what you want and not what you’re afraid of – yes, indeed, push yourself.