One of the challenges that any salesperson or marketer encounters is the need to constantly evolve and grow. Somewhere along the line, our culture seems to have set two ideas in motion that contradict one anther:
- That you should be a lifelong learner.
- That our jobs are fairly stagnant and that once we have mastered a role, it will never change.
Both ideas are proven false over and over.
But we see people struggle to maintain an emphasis on lifelong learning.
And, despite every indicator available point to rapid and unrelenting change being a primary concern in every business, we see far too many people spend very little time growing in their roles and making sure that they maintain a focus on growing within the work they are doing.
Inevitably, what happens is a crisis: of confidence, a business crisis, and likely a crisis of the economy.
Because without constant growth, stagnation sets in and it is a bugger to get rid of.
That said, when thinking about what marketers and salespeople should focus on to generate real improvements in their roles and for their business in the year ahead, I’ve come up with 3 areas of focus that will likely put you on the path to great differentiation.
Become more creative:
A colleague I met at the end of 2017, Allen Gannett, has a really great book coming out in a few months that I think you should check out called The Creative Curve. Allen’s hypothesis is that we can all learn to be more creative.
You can become more creative and it isn’t some miracle of birth.
One way that I have improved my creativity over the years is by using a simple exercise that I learned in one of the first Brian Tracy books I ever read, Goals.
Here’s how you do it:
Take out a sheet of paper (you can do this digitally, but I am old school in using pen and paper a lot.)
At the top of the page, write down the challenge you are trying to solve for.
Then you brainstorm ways that you can approach that challenge. Brian says get at least 20 and that the first couple of times you do it, you will find it difficult, but as you challenge yourself to get 20 ideas down…it becomes easier.
That’s not earth shattering, but I’m telling you that it works.
Another way that you can become more creative is pretty simple. Look at the world around you and find something you like that someone is doing in one industry and ask yourself why they aren’t doing it in another or how it could apply.
The key here is that to be a better marketer or seller, you can’t stick to the tried and true because those things are evolving so quickly that what was true yesterday can be wrong today.
Your key goal has to always be to continue to add value and create new approaches to selling and marketing your product, service, or idea.
You can start with the Brian Tracy example above and I bet if you try it, you’ll end up with some new approaches that you can take action on immediately.
Become a better businessperson:
Alan Weiss talks a lot about becoming an object of interest in your market.
This is a great idea for marketers and sellers to keep in mind.
For many of us, we get trapped in this world where we only need to know the specifications of our products and services.
We get lost in the fact that marketers are “creatives.”
Or, some other dodge that we use to not embrace being businesspeople.
The truth is that most of us want to be trusted advisors and respected in our careers.
You can get a certain amount of the way by being good at promoting your ideas, but without real substance behind you, sooner or later, you are an empty suit.
You can easily create more value internally and externally for your organization’s by focusing on being a better businessperson.
You do this by making sure you are aware of what is happening around you.
You do this by staying up to date on how other organizations in your industry attack their problems.
You do this by offering up intelligent perspectives whenever the opportunity presents itself.
This stuff might sound trite or tough, but it isn’t.
To wrote this blog, that might take 20 minutes.
I spend a little bit of time each day reading.
I spend a bit of time each week making new connections in industries and countries around the world.
On and on, you can do the exact same thing.
Because as sellers and marketers, you have to be willing and able to bring new ideas, new perspectives, and new approaches to your job everyday…or you will quickly start to fall into “The Commodity Trap.”
“How can I create more value?”
This is the question I ask myself each day.
I wake up and ask myself, “How can I create more value for ____?”
I fill in the blank depending on where my head is at the moment with sports teams, entertainment, small businesses, entrepreneurs, etc.
I have found that this question, when dominate, drives a much different approach to my work and my ideas.
For all too many of the sales and marketing people that I work with, this isn’t the first question that captures their attention each morning.
Instead, in too many cases, people are caught up reacting to something that occurred overnight. To some demand that may or may not be a meaningful priority. To a set of ideas that may not allow them to create value for their market.
To achieve the most you can in your marketing and selling roles, you are going to have to be willing to fight for your attention.
A book that I read in December that was really helpful for me in short circuiting a lot of negative thought loops for myself is called Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman.
While the book focuses on the pursuit of positive psychology, the exercises are helpful no matter what you find yourself thinking about.
You might be a natural optimist, but spend too much time thinking about the wrong projects. The ABCDE exercise will help.
But before I go too far down that road, the key for you in marketing and sales is that you have to always consider how to add more and more value to your markets, your prospects, and your organization.
You begin by asking yourself how you can add more value, but on top of that you have to consider being more creative in the approach you take, and also being willing to offer those ideas in a manner that shows off your business acumen.
You pull these 3 things together and I can guarantee you that you will see an improvement in your business.