In this post and the last, I've republished portions of a 2007 column called "The Truth." In it, we explore the ten basic truths of a career in media sales that I've gathered over the past 26 years. Here's hoping they spark some great discussion among sales leaders and their teams.
6. IF YOU'RE NOT DIFFERENT, YOU'RE DONE. Never forget that every customer has seen hundreds of predictable salespeople and thousands of lame PowerPoint slides before you walk in the door. If you can be only one thing, for God's sake be unique. Think about the things that a "salesperson" would ordinarily do at a given moment... and then do just the opposite. If you're not unique, it won't matter how good you are because you'll never really be heard anyway.
7. TRAJECTORY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN MASS. All those statistics you've collected about the size of your audience and your share of the market don't mean much. Nobody wants to know how much the car weighs; they want to know where it's going. This is where real vision and leadership matter in a sales organization. If you can't tell a good story about where your company is going, ask your leadership. If they don't know, then you've got bigger problems than your next sale.
8. ACHIEVEMENT IS TERRIFIC, BUT JOY IS LASTING. Sure, make your numbers. But don't think that numerical success alone will sustain you. Look at the ten most "successful" people you know and you'll find that they're all constantly finding little sources of joy. A great business friendship. A terrific meeting. Mentoring somebody. When your kids grow up they may not know or remember much about the details of your career. But they'll remember whether you loved your work or not.
9. STOP FIXING YOUR WEAKNESSES. Bad management is like bad education. It's all about bringing up that "C" on the report card. If you hate getting up in front of a room of 20 people and think you suck at it, you probably do. Build on your strengths instead. Help your manager understand the things that you're really good at and ask her to help you plan your success based on them. That's what great managers do. And don't you deserve a great manager?
10. THERE IS NO NUMBER 10. When you've said enough, stop. Quit while you're ahead.