If you go to work every day, you might as well go all the way and shoot for the pinnacle of your profession. It’s a competitive world, so set your sights high. If you’re going to take the risk and invest the time, strive for greatness.
Ever since Jim Collins wrote his best-selling book, Good to Great, in 2001, business people worldwide have been fixated on greatness. Why do some companies do so well when a similar competitor languishes? Why do some companies transition from being merely successful to being truly great? What traits and behaviors separate the good from the great?
Of course, good-versus-great questions apply not only to companies; they can be asked of people who want to be great salespersons or marketers.
And remember, everyone is in sales AND marketing regardless of their title.
Whether you’re selling medical equipment, working in business development or brokering international business transactions, it’s frankly easy to fail. Salespersons, marketers and dealmakers in every profession commonly fail. Some succeed, but only a tiny percentage achieves greatness.
The question then is what sales-and-marketing traits will lead you to the top of your profession?
Great professionals are ethical and honest. They don’t tell a client or colleague what he or she wants to hear, it’s what they need to hear. Leaders with character tend to hire employees who are also upstanding citizens. Together, they attract clients of character. Everybody wins.
2- Be Competitive
“Second don’t mean nothin’,” said Hall of Fame football coach Barry Switzer who led the Oklahoma Sooners to three national championships and the Dallas Cowboys to the Superbowl. Play to win. Be persistent. Don’t let anything fall through the cracks. Keep track of your competition and do what it takes to run at least a couple steps ahead of them. Be bold for the world has no room for shrinking violets.
3- Interpersonal Skills
It sure helps if you possess some charisma, but rule number one is to listen. Great professionals listen and truly HEAR. When you are engaged in conversation, remember it’s not about you; it’s about your client.
4- Strategic Thinking
Have a plan that takes into account the big picture. What’s your philosophy? Strong organizations have developed mission and vision statements. Great individuals need them too.
Whether you are looking at this from an organizational perspective or a personal one, determine your competencies and spend the majority of your time, energy and resources working on those. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, ask yourself, “Am I doing what is truly important?”
6- Have a Good Product
Contrary to the popular saying, nobody can really sell ice to Eskimos. If your product or service doesn’t stand on its own merit, trying to sell it is no different than beating your head against the wall.
7- Others First
Real estate agents, accountants and trustees are said to have “fiduciary” responsibilities to their clients. In other words, they are legally required to put the client’s interest before their own. No matter what you do, pretend you have a fiduciary duty to the customers you serve. If you do this, you will build rapport, which leads to a relationship, which leads to the holy grail of sales and marketing: trust.
8- Ability to Handle Stress
“There are many guys who can paint an incredibly cogent picture of why a company should be investing in China or why a football team should run a certain offense,” says Joe Moglia, who serves as both chairman of TD Ameritrade and a head coach in the United Football League. “The reality is, when things are not going well, when you’re losing money in China, and your guys keep fumbling the ball, how do you handle yourself?”
9- Keep Prospecting
No matter how busy you are as you put the finishing touches a big deal, remember to think about future deals. Always take time to fill your hopper, so you always have a steady supply of business. Don’t get emotionally attached to a certain piece of business, because you give up your power. Always go where the business is, where your best prospects live. It makes no sense to fish for business in a deserted lake.
10- Wrap It Up
Ultimately, the purpose of marketing is to get somebody to say “yes.” Know what you hope to achieve from a prospect before you meet him or her and then keep steering the conversation toward closure.