Make Smarter People Part of Your Career

a business person has surrounded himself by a smart team of professionals going over a marketing plan

You have probably heard the saying, “To be successful, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.”

It’s good advice especially for sales professionals. Surround yourself with top-notch people.

Leadership guru Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” You could also say it like this: “You become the sum of your five best friends.” Spending time with exceptional people makes you more exceptional.

Of course, it’s easier for me to advise you to hang out with smarter people than it is for you to actually do it. Surrounding yourself with more talented people can be intimidating. And a blow to the ego. And even threatening. Nevertheless, move forward with faith and conviction that you will be better served by teaming up people who are better than you at certain things.

Sales Teams

Many sales professionals team up with others in their company. Sometimes those teams are created by the company or dictated by the boss. But if you have a choice, team up with people who are talented, hard-working and ambitious. Seek teammates who will challenge you. If you have multiple people on your team, make sure each person has different strengths and abilities.

Different Intelligences

Here’s something that might help salve a bruised ego resulting from being around smarter people: There are different kinds of intelligence.

Just because a colleague is smarter than you in one area doesn’t mean he or she is better in another. Perhaps you struggle with creativity and idea-generation but have superior analytical skills. Team up with the creative person and together you can accomplish more. You might not be as quick to pick up financial details as a certain person but maybe you are better at building relationships.

We all need to identify our top strengths and biggest weaknesses. You can maximize your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses by joining forces with people whose abilities complement your own.

Business Acumen

In this highly competitive economy, in which prospects consider many of our products and services to be commodities, you must have business acumen. That’s a collection of up-to-date, cutting-edge knowledge you can use to challenge prospects and prove you can provide value to them.

We’re finding that this “challenge” approach – based on your distinctly unique credentials – is becoming the best way to win new business especially if you have to take the prospect away from one of your competitors. Those sales pros who have the best business acumen often hang out with people other sales reps would find “intimidating.”

Sales Leaders

If you’re the leader of a sales team, have no fear of hiring people you think might pass you up some day. It’s better to be seen as a person who brings in and develops great talent than a person who protects the status quo by hiring mediocre or under-performing people.

When you do end up employing an ultra-talented, hardworking individual, don’t try to hide them or prevent them from moving up just because you don’t want to lose them. Great talent rises to the top. Let the exceptional person move up. In the long run, it will benefit you as they will remember and appreciate the role you played in boosting their career. A former employee who makes it big can become a huge ally for you in the future.

If you hire a team of exceptional people, it will be important to have a culture of accountability in your office. Top performers expect to be held accountable and they expect that other employees in the company will be too. Perhaps the most important person to hold accountable is yourself. If you hold yourself to a high standard as a leader, your talented employees (even the ones more naturally gifted than you) will respect you and hold you in high esteem.

Mentorship for All

One of the best developmental tools in the sales profession is mentorship. Get a mentor and be a mentor. We benefit by being mentored and by mentoring others at the same time.

Some mentors don’t even have to know they’re your mentor – just study them and do the things they do. Other mentor relationships might be more formal. At that same time, mentor someone else. You actually become better in your work by teaching and coaching junior colleagues. One of my favorite phrases is, “you don’t know it until you’ve taught it.” Teaching someone else makes you know the material better. That’s one of the reasons why mentorship is a classic win-win situation.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

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