It has taken me a long time and a lot of reflection to acknowledge and appreciate the sage advice my first district manager gave me over 30 years ago.
Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom I found helpful that might be of interest regardless of where you are in your career. You’ll notice these apply more universally to business than just to the sales position I was in at the time. They may seem simple and obvious but like many things in life, holding true to their full intent and purpose is much harder than the words might suggest, especially over the course of a career.
Show up: Put in a full day, everyday. Not just when you feel like it or want to, but especially when you don’t feel like it or don’t want to. Most people don’t.
Follow up: check regularly and return phone calls immediately. You don’t know the customer’s sense of urgency, it could be an emergency. When you promise to do something, send something, or check back … do it… no excuses.
Make one more call: At the end of the day when you are ready to go home, make one more sales call. This extra effort accumulates into an additional month of sales calls every year. You never know when that one extra call is going to make a difference for your customer, a patient, or for your incentive compensation.
You get one shot at trust: If your customers quit trusting you, they quit buying from you. They catch you once in a lie, misrepresentation, or faking an answer, they have no reason to believe you after that.
Be ready for your next job before you get it: This meant that I would have to find the time, energy, and commitment to stretching my development to include subjects and skills beyond my current position. In other words, take responsibility for my own education and career development.
As busy as we were the days he rode with me, I always found it interesting that he found quiet time to have a cup of coffee to have these discussions. He made it a point to make sure I was able to listen, commit my complete attention, and engage in the discussion. This was never during drive time in the car when it might have been convenient and perceived as a good use of time but he knew I would have too many distractions to absorb the salient points he was making.
I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to pass these along to you. Hopefully they will be useful in the pursuit of your career aspirations. Perhaps some of you will share some of the more useful pieces of insight, advice, or coaching that you received in your career.