My mantra in my early 20s as a single parent and a sales rep was “It takes work to be mediocre.” I was told that many times by one of our sales managers at the first technology company I sold for.
Let’s first define mediocre:
mediocre: adj. “of only moderate quality; not very good.”
Synonyms of mediocre include:
I don’t know about you and YOUR selling career, but being “pedestrian” - another great synonym – is NOT what I sought to be in my sales career. It still isn’t, and never will be. I cringe at the thought of someone saying I do average, half-assed work because my reputation is all I really have.
The idea about mediocrity is that if it takes work to be average, why not push a bit more and be amazing?
As a woman on a male-majority sales team with no female leaders in sight back then, I wanted to stand out for the quality of my work and for the revenues I could bring in to grow my business and the company’s.
Why did this matter to me?
Because nearly ANYONE can try to be in sales. Anyone can try to be a sales leader. BUT only top sellers withstand the test of time. Only top sales leaders withstand the test of time. I didn’t want to be just another rep – a body – a number. While my sales numbers and activity numbers DID show up on our company Leader Board as metrics, I always knew I was much more than a number. At the first few tech companies I worked for, my goal was to be in the top 10% of my peers.
Being successful and accomplishing results drives me – does it drive you?
If you don’t feel that drive, you may be in a slump. If this slump goes on for more than a couple of weeks, look inward to determine what has changed.
- Is the company different now?
- Are you not able to grow your pipeline?
- Have you simply lost the fun and joy of the position?
- Did something else change?
Once you know what is different, do some soul searching. Can you be happy again in this role?
Find a trusted mentor or colleague (even if outside of the company) and share your thoughts with them. Get input from others as you can. This way you can make a better decision about the future.
Sales is an amazing career – it can be the best high-paying career when all goes well, or it can be a really tough not so great career when things are not going well. Many factors determine your success –
- YOU – first and foremost
- the products and services you sell
- The company you represent
- The team in that company that you work with
- The manager you directly report to
- The buyers and clients you work with
If any one of these areas goes from great to poor, it can cause your performance to suffer. That’s why it is critical to understand how everything works together for your success. In many cases you can only change the YOU piece – although you can go to another company if you don’t get the support from your direct supervisor or the company.
When it all works together, you have a strong pipeline, you have great clients, and future buyers want to work with you because of your solid reputation.
The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson aptly wrote, “Beware the lollipop of mediocrity, lick it once and you’ll suck forever”.
It’s good to evaluate where you stand every quarter and determine if you are delivering mediocrity or if you are amazing in your industry.
Lori Richardson helps mid-sized companies grow revenues by solving key issues in their sales department - like recruiting, retention, diversity hiring, process, pipeline and leadership. She speaks at CEO groups on topics of sales growth. Clients include companies in the technology, telecom, manufacturing, distribution, and professional services industries. Subscribe to the award-winning blog, follow her on Twitter
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