(By Bob McCurdy) I was speaking with a salesperson last week who asked for some career advice. I strongly suggested that this individual identify ways to stand apart from the competition in some form or fashion, stressing that making oneself identifiable is easy but that making them part of a daily routine is far more difficult. I underscored that those that do, elevate themselves from an “average Joe” to a real “pro” in their client’s eyes.
By definition, standing apart means consistently doing what others don’t. Those that stand apart are constantly looking for ways to be extraordinary in a sea of sales sameness. Those that stand apart:
- Are always prepared and never “wing it.”
- Understand that integrity is not a 90% thing. Either you have it or you don’t.
- Eagerly invest in their own professional development.
- Have a well-defined purpose for every client meeting.
- Practice-Drill-Rehearse — embracing the fact that they are sales athletes and athletes need to practice.
- Constantly prospect.
- Know that their future is created in the present.
- Develop and adhere to a strict routine.
- Understand that learning and professional development require honest reflection, not rationalization.
- Make their home their “university.”
- Care more than some might think wise.
- Expect more of themselves than even the managers to whom they report might expect.
- Work Fridays as hard as Mondays.
- Avoid gossip. (Diminishes all involved.)
- Have developed solid relationships and constantly seek to deepen those relationships with key decision-makers.
- Strive to become thought leaders via a blog, podcast, LinkedIn, etc. extending their “brand.”
- Continually seek to elevate their clients marketing expertise, understanding that if the client knows what they know they’ll likely view the marketing landscape similarly.
- Always “give” before asking.
- Recognize that sales is akin to chess — you must always be thinking 2-3 steps ahead.
- Effectively “pre-sell” what they are selling.
- Do what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it. This is too simple for too many.
- Embrace the genius of “then some.” Doing all of what’s expected of them, and “then some.”
- Understand that they never really “arrive” professionally. There’s always more to learn and accomplish.
- Impatiently seek to refine their craft.
- Are “committed” to their careers and their client’s success, not merely “interested.”
- Look the part. Recognize that first impressions are lasting impressions.
- Zig when everyone else is zagging. The herd is often wrong.
- Believe bone deep that, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”
- Expect improvement in themselves before expecting it in others.
- Operate under the assumption that the other person just might be right.
- Welcome guidance and direction and can handle constructive criticism.
- Listen intently. Evaluate and pause before responding.
- Have the courage to “continue on” in the face of resistance.
- Seek to positively impact their company beyond their current title/role.
- Behave as if everything they do and say will be on the 6 o’clock news.
- Make things happen. Go around, over, or under, but find a “way” — or create one — to accomplish an objective.
- Are never satisfied with the status quo, asking themselves often, “Why not?”
- Believe that the one who quits last usually “wins.”
- Recognize that excellence is the result of gradual, daily improvement.
- Realize that in business it’s all about “and.” Not about just doing this “or” that, but this “and” that.
- Embrace the fact that they don’t truly take control of their own careers until they personally take control and oversee their own learning.
- Understand that the fundamentals really don’t change, what changes is their own attention to them.
- Know more about their profession at the end of their day than they did at the beginning.
- Allocate some portion of their weekend to become better on Monday than they were on Friday.
An old coaching friend of mine talks about mastering the “Bilities” when looking to stand apart: responsibility, accountability, dependability, adaptability, credibility, compatibility, availability, stability, capability, and sustainability.
How much more effective, successful, and wealthy would we all be if we elevated our commitment to “stand apart” a little more every day?
Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected].