Working Smarter

5 Quick Tips to Get Ahead Faster

sales successI stood in awe, staring at the dinosaur tracks we'd walked an hour to see. These ancient remnants of 195 million years ago were smack dab in the middle of the path in wide open country in Southern Utah.

As I placed my hiking boot next to the footprint, I felt a deep sense of reverence that I was actually walking in the footsteps of giants.

Later, in reflection, I realized that my own sales success was a direct result of those who walked the path before me.

I relentlessly pressed them for the knowledge & skills I needed to do well in my career. I was a virtual sponge, doing my very best to short-circuit my own learning curve.

There were times it was embarrassingly hard to ask for assistance. I feared being vulnerable or looking stupid -- especially when I should have known the answer. But honestly, it made all the difference in the world to me.

If you want to get ahead faster, here are 5 quick tips to get you there:

  1. If you're new to a job, find a person who's just a little ahead of you in seniority and doing okay. When I started at Xerox, Lowell Zimmerman was my benchmark. If he could succeed, so could I.

  2. Create your own business book club. Each month choose a different book to read and discuss. This stretched my thinking and opened me up to fresh options that were beyond my current comprehension level. (Get the SNAP Selling Study Guide.)

  3. Talk with existing customers. Learn about their roles & responsibilities, how they're evaluated, what their key priorities are and how their processes work. Their perspectives were often very different from what marketing said was important.

  4. Interview successful reps in your company. What you really want to find out is about what makes prospects move off the status quo -- the business case for change. To me, their insights on this topic were invaluable.

  5. Ask your colleagues for help -- early and often. Otherwise, you can spend hours searching for answers or ideas. And, if you don't have their expertise, you'll probably come up with bad ones.

Learning from other people's successes and mistakes is smart -- even though you may feel dumb doing it. Perhaps, if the dinosaurs had done that 195 million years ago, they'd still be here today.

Question: What strategies have you used to learn from the people in your life? Add your comments below.

After a successful career in the sales world, writing five books, and speaking internationally, Jill is now tackling an even bigger challenge. She's focused on bringing the "millions in the middle" together to solve some of the biggest issues facing our country and the world. Jill truly believes so much more is possible if we can work together.