4 valuable lessons that will put you ahead in your career, according to successful sales leaders

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We are captivated by stories about successful people. After all, who doesn't want to do great things in life? We each have our own unique journey, and learning about how others found their way to success can be enlightening. Their stories may offer us knowledge and wisdom that can help us navigate our own paths.

From top sales marketers to entrepreneurs, here are four lessons that helped lead them to their greatest achievements.

1. Invest in yourself.

"The best investment I ever made was when I was 25," says Grant Cardone, a best-selling author, speaker and sales trainer. Cardone says that at the time, he hated sales--simply because he didn't know much about it. His solution? Borrowing $3,000 from his mother to buy a sales training program.

"I went from making $30,000 to making $100,000 a year," says Cardone. "But more importantly, for the first time in my life, I could say that I actually enjoyed sales. For the first time, I knew what I was doing."

If you own your own company or are thinking of starting one, you will need to be your own secretary, your own receptionist, your own financial officer--you name it. Make it a habit to continuously strive to improve so you can build yourself up to be as knowledgeable as possible in your career.

2. Over-prepare for every call, presentation and pitch.

Preparation is essential. It forces you to understand what you're working with and how to best conduct yourself. 

Before heading out to a sales call, Neil Rackham, a best-selling author and sales consultant, outlines his meeting plan on a piece of paper by writing down three or four questions he'd like to ask his prospective clients. "Then I tear it up so that I'm not tempted to pull it out during the meeting," he says.

Handwriting your thoughts and questions strengthens your memory while also ensuring that there won't be lulls in the conversation.

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Above all, don't forget to do your research! "For complicated, long-term deals, it's especially important to know the person and company you're talking to inside out. This will help you tailor your conversations to their needs and anticipate common sales objections," says Sujan Patel, a growth marketer and entrepreneur. "Going the extra mile early in your conversations will show a customer that you plan to put in the extra work if they decide to work with you. It can be the difference between a no and a yes down the line," he explains.

3. Work in what you believe in.

Your potential clients--or even employers, if you're applying for a job--will always have other options. When everyone is testing out their pitches, it's hard to stand out. Make yourself memorable by working for something you really believe in. Passion and authenticity, rather than a well-rehearsed speech, will leave a more impressionable impact.

Why are you selling the product? Why should it matter to your customers? As soon as Jarvis found his "why," his potential customers could sense that he had authenticity.

"Commit to the big vision. People can sense when you're being transactional in your selling. Ask yourself what your 'why' is," says Chase Jarvis, an award-winning photographer and the CEO of CreativeLive.

Why are you selling the product? Why should it matter to your customers? As soon as Jarvis found his "why," his potential customers could sense that he had authenticity.

"Be careful if you're only committed to something for the next two weeks or the next paycheck. That narrative is a trap," warns Jarvis. "Pretty soon, that eroding mentality of constantly chasing the next thing will hurt you. Alignment provides a level of hunger that can't be achieved when you're just working towards a paycheck."

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4. Use failures to build yourself up.

You won't always start out working your dream job. In fact, most people don't.

"The best investment that helped me become a better salesperson was taking a part-time job selling water heaters door-to-door. There was nothing scarier than trying to convince people I wasn't crazy and that letting me inside their homes to complete a sale was a good idea," says Michele Romanow, an investor and the co-founder of Clearbanc. "As an entrepreneur, never underestimate how much of your success is based on your ability to sell. You must sell to get vendors, customers, employees, investors and partnerships."

Romanow always advises people who are just starting out to take a sales job in retail; it makes you less afraid of the challenges to come. You won't always succeed, but shying away from something simply because it's uncomfortable or difficult to do is a missed opportunity for growth. Take your hardships and failures in both hands and use them to your advantage.

Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm that serves high-net-worth individuals. She is also the chief investment officer and founder of LexION Alpha.

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