My dad ultimately made a career in sales and sales management, but we didn’t talk about that either. Somewhat ironic given what I now spend most of my day doing that we’ve never compared notes on sales strategy, urgency drivers, copywriting, marketing channels and the like.
But it’s clear now that, both growing up and in the years since, my dad has taught me a lot about marketing. He just probably doesn’t know it. Dad, here are eight lessons I’ve taken with me in particular.
1. Get up early
Doesn’t matter as much what you do with that time. Just give yourself a head start. Start before everyone else, and be more alert and running at mid-day speed at the start of everyone else’s day. It makes a good impression, and improves your productivity significantly.
2. Work hard
There’s no real hard and fast definition for this one, but you know it when you see it and do it. It’s not even about working smarter as much as showing up, putting in your time, making the extra effort when needed. People who work hard have more chances, bottom line. And since we all fail more than we’d like (especially if we’re doing it right), more chances is a good thing.
3. Remember little things about people
The receptionist likes peanut M&M’s. I remember my dad telling me that on his way out the door on a sales call one day when I was young. With that one little piece of information, he turned a gatekeeper into an advocate. He wasn’t just the sales guy anymore. He was the guy who remembered, the guy who cared. That differentiates you, even if it’s trivial or irrelevant.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously
You can still have fun in a pressure-packed situation. Still enjoy your job at the end of the month. Combine intense negotiations with mutual respect, a smile and handshake. Your product or service may be serious business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humor.
5. Don’t talk about yourself
Find out what the other person cares about and talk about that. If you care about it too, the conversation should be easy. If you don’t know anything about it, ask questions. Be interested. Learn something new, learn something about the other person in the process, and develop a bond and mutual interest level before business even comes up. Breaking the ice can take a lot of formats (in marketing and sales channels). Use it to your advantage.
6. Invest in long-term relationships
Of course you’d like to close the deal right now. Of course you want to pad your numbers this month, this quarter. But some relationships take longer to nurture. Some are worth nurturing for long-term value. Want to close more business tomorrow? Start far more conversations and relationships today.
7. Invest in your team
Invest in their success, their careers, but also take the time to show you care every day, that you notice the things they do. Thank them often for the work they’re doing. I remember my dad buying Steelers stuff quite often when he’d see it in a store somewhere, mainly because one of his branch managers was a huge Steelers fan. Low cost, zero time, high value.
8. Get out of your comfort zone
Not everything you need to do to succeed will come naturally. You might not be the best networker, but if you have to, you’ll force yourself into the arena and have those small-talk conversations. Continuing to do what you’ve always done may be comfortable, may feel safe, but also may no longer work (if it ever did). Try something new, be comfortable with failure, and reinvent how you execute to find what works and accelerate success yet again.