As buzzwords like “side hustle” and the “gig economy” entered the vernacular over the last few years, a surge of millennials and Gen Z have sought out skill sets that they could monetize entrepreneurially. One of those skillsets more sought out than any others has been sales. As increasing numbers of people look to become “solopreneurs”, work remotely from around the world or simply advance faster in a traditional career, they’ve realized that the ability to sell can perhaps have a greater impact on success than any other skill.
Indeed a career in sales and mastering the craft of how to sell can springboard one to the coveted seven figure earning mark faster than almost anything else. Sales offers unlimited earning opportunity, where one is limited only by their own capabilities and their capacity to increase their capabilities.
While there is no one-size-fits-all roadmap to breaking the million-dollar earnings mark, honing your sales skills is an indispensable part of the journey. Marco Cortesi, of 7th Level, who has had a successful sales career before the age of 30, shares his own take on what it takes to achieve personal success and the sales skills needed to get there.
How Did You Choose Your Career?
Marco Cortesi: I didn’t choose this career, at least not consciously in the beginning. I wanted to go on holiday. I had no money and there weren’t any jobs available during that time in Rome. The only job I was offered at that time was a sales job, door to door, selling electricity. That’s how I got into sales originally.
I loved it right away, though people used to throw sticks at me for ringing their doorbells! I remember thinking the script was terrible the first couple of weeks, but I ended up coming up with ideas on top of that. In the first month, I made 2,000 Euros, and after that, I understood that I could get good at it and treated it like it was almost like a game.
What Was the First Year of Being in Sales Like?
MC: I struggled with understanding whether I was actually good at selling or not because my reference or benchmark at the time was a guy who was in his 60s. I didn’t know if I should be comparing myself to him at the time, as he had been making 2,000 Euros per month for 20 years.
I got rejected a lot, but you learn to deal with the rejection — that’s part of mastering sales. The first year was learning how and when to drop my ego and learning how to deal with rejection, and then just as importantly, how you transform that rejection into a sale.
What Actions Did You Take to Help Pave the Way for Sales Commissions?
MC: The first action is constantly learning. I put aside time for reading books every day — at least 45 minutes.
I study every day. I have done about 130K worth of courses in the last year. I also listen to audibles. I developed a strong work ethic — you won’t get far without it. I work 15-hour days quite often.
One of my biggest motivations is to not go back to how I was before, a poor miserable kid from the Bronx in Rome. I guess I know why you do things. Is it out of fear or love? And if it is fear, how can you transform that fear into something great?
What Personal Habits Have You Developed to Reach Peak Performance?
MC: First, if you take care of yourself in terms of how you look and feel, you perform 100 times better. I go to the gym. Since we’ve been in lockdown, I’ve made sure I work out every day, even if it’s just in my garage. I read every day. I learn every day. I run in the morning, go for walks with my girlfriend. I eat well. Just common sense things that we all know we should do for our health.
Another habit I’ve developed is waking up early at 4 am. My mindset at 4 am is that I’m way ahead of the day, doing things many people fail to do. I always push myself to do things that other people don’t do. I ask myself, “How can I do things better than others?” I try to come up with better ways of doing things.
Thinking positive — I learned from my girlfriend to be more positive; I used to be really negative, but now, I’m a lot more positive and think if it doesn’t work, well, it doesn’t work. So what?
I’ve learned a lot of my business habits from Matt Ryder, CEO of 7th Level. He taught me to not second guess myself. Admit when you are good — acknowledge it.
When you start saying to yourself, “I’m good at this,” without being arrogant — acknowledge your skills and be happy about it and work on how you can get better, that’s when things really started to change for me.
James Sackl, COO of 7th Level, has mentored me on the development side of business — taught me to put great thought into strategies. Don’t always expect to win on a whim.
Jeremy Miner, founder of 7th Level, has been a truly great role model on how to develop myself professionally. He pushes me to always show up as my best self in life.
What’s the Most Important Piece of Advice You Would Give to Others Starting in Sales?
MC: Invest in yourself. Invest in your own learning. Invest the time in studying and expanding your knowledge and your network.
Also, don’t get stuck in a hamster wheel. Don’t expect that one day, something will fall from the sky or rely on external things to make things happen. Understand you need to make things happen by your own efforts.
Work for the version of yourself you want to be thre