We all want to be successful, why are some more successful than others?
I do not think that anyone wakes up and says “hey, I do not want to be successful”, yet when comparing groups of friends, graduating classes with the same majors, and most likely any other social group there is bound to a large divide between the haves and have-nots. Why is that?
I wrote this because I have seen new hires go from making entry level wages to six figures in less than a year and conversely I have seen Ivy League educated, super smart new hires fail miserably. The individuals that can stand out early in their career have a distinct advantage of reaching management echelons quicker and distinguishing themselves as special talent within an organization.
In the hyper-competitive industry that I operate in, an aggressive sales force is the driving pulse of the organization. With that being said, I have put aside the five characteristics that I have seen consistent amongst superstars in my sales and leadership organization.
I want the gal or guy that would rather die than lose on my team. Does this sound extreme? It is. Why do you ask? Are you concerned about the environment that this competitiveness might create? Don’t be!
The people you work with are a team. Your team’s responsibility is to win. You win by beating your competition and taking market share from them. I want a group of men and women that will push themselves harder and further than the competition.
If you have ever been to a dog track, you’ll know they incentivize the dogs to run faster by running a rabbit out in front of the dogs. There used to be a live rabbit but these days tracks use a mechanized rabbit. I am a firm believer that you need a “rabbit” in a competitive sales environment. There needs to be someone out in front for the others to chase from a sales perspective. If balanced appropriately, your top sales person doubles as an incredible revenue generator for the company and the rabbit for all the competitive sales people to give chase to.
It may seem odd to list naiveté as being a desirable trait but please allow me to explain. I entered the workforce at a very young age and I was mostly naïve to the world but more so I was oblivious to a work environment. My parents raised me properly and instilled in me that I should listen and respect authority. That old adage translated to the workplace easily and I have always listened to my superiors. Like most of you, I have had both good bosses and bad bosses in my career and regardless of what I thought of the individual managing me, I always listened to what they said and I did exactly as I was asked. To further elaborate, when I first entered the workforce I wasn’t jaded by years of experience or a previous bad source of disenchantment in the workplace. I was fresh and willing to serve without question to my employer.
I am not sure if I could duplicate the success I have had in my career if I was asked to start over. I almost know too much now and it would be a hindrance in finding early career success. There is a time when experience and pushing back come into play. After all, we all want to ensure the organization we work for is great. But when you are a front line employee who is learning the ropes, pushing back on corporate initiatives isn’t the best use of your time. Figuring out solutions because your leader gave you a task is much more productive.
3. Hard work
It sounds cliché but you still have to put some elbow grease if you want to move up in an organization. Almost any professional level job has some minimum hours, maybe it is 8:00 – 5:00, that holds true for our sales team. However, my top performers are out by 7:00 am and work all day. Many of them are still at the office at 8:00 pm doing their follow up for the day. Those are long hours for anyone. I look for the people that recognize that those long hours pay off both financially and through career advancement.
Ambition has to be the hardest thing to measure in an interview process. Differentiating between a dreamer and a very ambitious individual is next to impossible. I want to work with someone who is not content with the status quo and who challenges sales goals because they are too low.
If you are successful and a top performer you will be propositioned with job offers from other companies at some point in your career. It is always flattering and sometimes extraordinarily enticing. My advice, if you are reasonably content in your current position is not to jump ship. I have seen hundreds of examples through my career where someone chased greener grass only to either be disappointed or possibly totally ruin their career.
There is something to be said for folks who are fiercely loyal to their organizations and the same can be said of employers. I have seen plenty of examples where an organization returns that same fierce loyalty to their employees.
I am certainly not advocating that anyone stays with an organization that is unethical or continues to put you in a bad situation. I do believe that there will be times and phases in your career that you will not love what you do or who you work for. I would encourage anyone to look at the bigger picture before chasing a fancy title or a 25% raise. I do not think any organization is perfect, it’s important to make sure you look at the big picture.
Dan Berardi, General Manager and COO