A reader recently asked me: “Jeff, I know there’s no secret to success, but if there’s one skill or behavior to master, what would it be?”
Answer: You’re right. One fact, quality or asset is seldom the difference between triumph and defeat. It’s the combination, mix or “total package” that catapults winners to victory.
For example, the belief that “attitude is everything” is really a misnomer. For without action or the right behaviors, it’s merely an empty and meaningless slogan.
I know lots of folks with great attitudes, but they do nothing! Well, OK, that’s not fair. They do have lofty goals, yet no plans to achieve them. And then, they concoct creative excuses as to why they fell short.
It’s usually the fault of the economy, changing market conditions, crazy customers, even crazier competitors, lousy pricing, poor products, yadda yadda yadda. The list, along with the whines and complaints, is endless.
Years ago, I asked a client and his team, “If you were to create the ideal sales person or business pro, what would they do, have or be?”
As you’ll soon see, their responses are interesting and insightful. And, they’re also applicable to you and your life and business.
Here’s their original list of 29 key skills, beliefs and/or core values:
- a positive attitude
- good listener
- asks great questions
- seeks referrals
- strong self-esteem and a big ego
- disciplined and focused
- effective time manager / self-manager
- knows how to overcome objections
- has written goals
- monitors metrics, results and outcomes
- persuasive communicator: spoken and written word
- works well with internal and external customers
- is constantly learning; i.e., reading, listening to CDs, etc.
- maximizes relationships
- networks within the industry
- technology competent
- knows how to identify and strategize opportunities
- open to new ideas
- willingness to change / upgrade
- effective at follow-up
- honors commitments and deliverables
- a strong values base
- a positive reflection of (or ambassador of) their company
- not easily discouraged
- knows how to deal with business rejection
- knowledgeable, yet has easy access to resources for other stuff, etc.
While the list is in no particular order, “honesty” was the first quality mentioned. Plain and simple, that’s a non-negotiable.
While time and space don’t give us the luxury to address all 29 items in this article, let’s focus on:
#23: effective at follow-up and
#24: honors commitments and deliverables
These are so basic, yet they’re often ignored. How often have you had somebody promise to do something, yet fail to do it? Hey, I know, on occasion, “stuff happens” and you might blow it. But if it’s a regular occurrence, it’s a financial faux pas. (And if you do blow it, apologize. Fast! Most folks are understanding and reasonable.)
If it happens once, you might earn a “Mulligan.” If it happens twice, you’ve demonstrated a dangerous trend. And you’re likely to lose business. Repeatedly. Ouch!
There’s no magic here. If you say you’re gonna do it, do it. Make the call. Send the stuff. Do the deed. Whatever “it” is, make it happen. Hold yourself accountable.
It’s amazing when I hear someone sheepishly exclaim, “I forgot to jot it down!” Huh?! Put it in your PDA. Write it on a napkin. Scrawl it on the back of your hand. Draw it on an Etch A Sketch!
You’re compensated for results — not for lame excuses.
On the evening of December 15th, 2004, I was on a flight from St. Louis back to Chicago. My seatmate was an executive with a consulting firm. As we chatted, he exhibited an enthusiastic passion for sales, leadership and new knowledge. When I asked him if he’d like to receive The Results Report, he said, “Absolutely!”
The next day, I sent him two recent issues.
On the 17th, he replied: “Thanks for sending me your newsletter. I enjoyed it very much and enjoyed chatting on the plane. I’ve met many people on flights who promised to send me stuff, but I’ve rarely actually gotten anything. Hope our paths cross again.”
Hmmm. Interesting. I simply did what I promised to do. And apparently, I was in the minority.
You see, that’s the point. Many folks, your competitors, are merely mediocre. They’re average. The things they do to distinguish themselves, are all too often the wrong things. And they generate the wrong results.
I didn’t perform any heroic acts here. Jump through hoops. Or leap tall buildings. But he acknowledged and was grateful for my “follow-up.” It became a positive distinction. A valuable differentiator.
At the end of a meeting or communication, (in-person, via the phone or e-mail), do you:
- Create a list of deliverables, or review, i.e., who will do what by when?
- Clearly communicate the “next steps”?
- Create deadlines?
- Honor the deadlines you’ve created?
- Keep things moving forward”
- Continuously create the perception and reality that you’re reliable and focused on results?
- Accept the fact, that while others may forgive, they seldom forget … that you forgot?
Jeff Blackman is a Hall of Fame speaker, bestselling author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. In 2008, he was Vistage’s Fast-Track Speaker of the Year. Jeff’s clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Please contact Jeff at email@example.com or via jeffblackman.com to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff’s FREE e-letter, The Results Report. You can also “connect” with Jeff at LinkedIn or “follow” Jeff at Twitter.