How to stand out from the crowd and use your knowledge as a powerful driver for success…
In order to make it as a successful sales-professional or any other kind of professional, it’s imperative that you’re an expert in what you do. It will require time and a great deal of effort but most people can become an expert in their field if they really want to. All that’s standing in the way of achieving this is your drive and your desire to succeed. If you want to earn the respect of your clients and colleagues then it’s time to get serious about your career.
LEARN FROM THE KARATE KID:
In the movie The Karate Kid, the protagonist’s first lesson is cleaning and waxing his master’s car. You may remember the line “wax on, wax off”. Although I didn’t have to wax any cars at the start of my career, I had a great mentor that bore many similarities to Mr Miyagi. Every day I had to knock on one hundred doors and get one hundred introductions. If I didn’t get exactly that number I wasn’t allowed to come back to the office. Once I had collected those numbers, I had to call all one hundred of them. This was my daily routine. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.
At the time, I didn’t see the point of these activities but subconsciously my boss was teaching me some very valuable lessons. He asked me what middle-aged senior executive would trust me, a twenty-one-year-old kid with their life savings? He said of course none of them would. He gave me a box full of financial services books and every night I was tasked to go home and read them.
I studied these books for months until I knew the subject better than anyone else did. It was only then that I realised that my prospective clients were slowly starting to trust my knowledge. It felt really good that people trusted me because I had become an expert in what I was selling. Don’t forget that trust is earned just like expertise.
JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES, MASTER OF NONE:
We’re all familiar with the figure of speech used in reference to a person who has many skills but no sole focus. You’ll find that there are an increasing number of ‘Jack’s’ these days, but if you were sick, chances are you wouldn’t go and see a doctor who wasn’t qualified. You would want to see a doctor who was a professional and an expert in medicine.
Whilst it is possible to be knowledgeable in more than one thing, it’s important to master one thing at a time. Take time honing your craft. Read everything that you can get your hands on that deals with your subject of expertise. Then once you’ve mastered one subject, you can move onto the next.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN DEVELOPMENT:
The only person responsible for your development and growth is you! If you’re truly dedicated to your career then you’d be reading at least one book a month, and spending every chance you get to further your knowledge. Oprah Winfrey credits books with much of her success, stating that books were her pass to personal freedom.
For four years of my life, I listened to ‘Get the Edge’ by Anthony Robbins on audiobook in my car, and those four years happened to be the most instrumental years of my early career.
Do courses, go to seminars, find a mentor and make a concerted effort to keep nurturing your mind. When you stop doing these things and you become complacent, your development will stagnate as will your credibility.
THE FIVE-HOUR RULE:
Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg all have something in common. Despite being extremely busy, throughout the duration of their careers they’ve all set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) for activities that could be classified as deliberate practice or learning. This phenomenon is now also referred to as the five-hour rule.
The five-hour rule can be grouped into three different segments: reading, reflection, and experimentation. These five hours are outside of your normal work routine and require complete dedication and concentration. Most professionals in the workplace tend to focus on productivity and efficiency, not on improvement. But with the five-hour rule, you set definitive targets to improve yourself and your expertise. As a result, just five hours of deliberate learning a week can set you apart from others.
EXPERTISE IN THE DIGITAL AGE:
The world is changing. And unfortunately, if you don’t keep up with the times and developments, you’ll be left behind. The sales industry isn’t what it used to be. A sales-professional from the eighties wouldn’t cut it today- He would be a relic. With the Internet at our fingertips, people don’t just accept everything that they’re told. It takes a lot more than reciting a few lines to win people over. In order to be successful in what you do, you need to know your subject inside out. And if you don’t, chances are you’re going to be caught out. All that your client has to do is a basic search on Google and they’ll be able to know whether or not you know what you’re talking about.
Use the Internet to your advantage. Read about all the latest trends and how they relate to your industry. By doing this you’ll be able to provide your clients with case studies and a tailor-made solution that best suits them.
A great story of how you can use the world of digital to your advantage is The Dollar Shave Club. Founder and CEO, Michael Dubin didn’t reinvent the wheel. He simply created an affordable solution to a real, relatable problem shared by men everywhere. What started as a comedic video posted online of him selling his product has now grown to include 1.1 million subscribers, a whopping $615 million valuation in 2015, and most recently a $1 Billion all-cash acquisition by Unilever.
HOW TO SPOT A BLUFFER:
In order to be taken seriously, you’ll need the right qualifications. You wouldn’t hire a lawyer who hasn’t passed the bar, would you? So make sure that whatever field you’re in, you have the right credentials to back you up. I’m not saying that practical experience doesn’t count, but since I’m a firm believer that it’s never too late to learn something new and to further your studies, I’d encourage you to invest in the right training programmes and institutes that will give you the edge.
Contrary to popular belief, sales professionals aren’t just born. They’ve received a lot of training…
NEVER STOP LEARNING:
The only person that you’re competing with is the person you were yesterday. By committing to being a lifelong learner, you commit to bettering yourself and your work. Step outside of your normal routine and challenge yourself daily. For me, it always comes down to goal setting. Where do you see yourself one year from now? Five years from now? What will you be doing ten years from now? In my personal opinion, if a person is dedicated, it’ll take them three years to become an expert and five years to become a master. It’s up to you where you go from there.