No matter what you do, getting ahead shouldn’t depend on lucky breaks, favoritism, or even hard work. It should be in our control. To make that happen, certain behaviors will help you stand out from the crowd. Here are eight of them.
1. Be suspicious. No one likes getting blindsided, yet it’s all-too-common in business. More than anything else, a little paranoia helps avoid the sucker punches.
Suppose one of your biggest clients decides to cut ties and work with someone else. If you didn’t see it coming, is it possible that we can get so wrapped up in ourselves or normal routines that our awareness evaporates, so that we can’t read customers, anticipate problems, or see opportunities?
Getting ahead means keeping your antennae up. It’s not being afraid to ask, “What does this mean?” It takes being suspicious. Just keeping your head down and “doing your job” doesn’t work. Remember, Beagles never make it across a busy street alive.
2. Make it easier. Complexity means confusion and that kills sales. It drives customers away.
Don’t assume a potential client will be able to easily figure out and answer questions on a life insurance application. Anticipate stumbling blocks and do what you can to remove them. The easier you can make it for a prospect to submit an app, the better the chances a policy will be issued. Coming up with ideas to improve processes, particularly those that make it easier for customers, is a great way to get ahead.
3. Express ideas clearly. What we write and say creates a legacy that stays with us — and one that influences how we’re perceived. Our emails, text messages, presentations, proposals, letters, memos, and conversations say something about us. “What’s she talking about?” “I couldn’t follow him,” “It didn’t make sense,” “What’s it mean?” or “Who cares!” They all tell a story.
In To Sell is Human,” author Daniel H. Pink notes the comments of a former professor. “Don’t get lost in the crabgrass of details, he urged us. Instead, think about the essence of what you’re exploring,” which he called the “1 percent.”
Great messaging comes down to always coming up with the one idea that makes sense to your recipients. If you do, you’ll be noticed.
4. Challenge assumptions. “I assumed…” are the most dangerous words in business, since they can derail companies and drive careers off a cliff. Yet, we hear them every day. Why? Assumptions save time by short-circuiting the thinking process.
For example, common sense may tell us that young people spend the most on Apple products. If so, it’s way off the mark. It turns out that men over 65 are the big Apple spenders, averaging $976, according to Slice Intelligence. Make it a rule never to get pushed into doing something before making sure it’s supported by the facts.
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