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Are You Boring, Or Simply Irrelevant?

by David Brock on June 10th, 2013

Last week, a couple of my friends looked at a couple of different, but parallel issues.  Jim Keenan published  You’re Boring.   I struggled through the post, took me a couple cups of  coffee to stay awake—just kidding Jim!  Dave Stein posed a question about Age Discrimination on Google +. (It’s hard being a 26 year old, with Grey hair, people mistakenly think I’m much older.)  The root of both these issues is “Are You Relevant?”

Too often, people confuse the wrong things.  Using the latest, coolest technology.   Following the latest trends, whether music, appearance, tools.  Being seen at the “right events,”  hanging out with the “cool people,” whether it’s in the customer, in your own company, or in “social communities” is all meaningless if you aren’t relevant.  Relevance trumps boring, relevance trumps age.  Relevance trumps everything else.

You are irrelevant if:

  1. You don’t know your product or services.
  2. All you can talk about is your product and services.
  3. If you don’t understand the customer’s markets, customers, issues, business challenges, strategies, priorities, growth opportunities.
  4. If you are more concerned with making quota than helping the customer achieve their objectives.
  5. If you can’t create value in every interchange you have with the customer.
  6. If you can’t articulate and quantify the business value you create in terms meaningful to the customer.
  7. If you don’t know how to leverage your sales process to make you more effective and impactful.
  8. If you measuring volume of activity independent of quality of outcomes.
  9. If you aren’t doing formal pre-call planning and research for every meeting.
  10. If you aren’t documenting your opportunity strategy and keeping it updated.
  11. If you don’t take the time to plan and analyze your territory, pipeline, funnel, what you are trying to do to achieve your goals
  12. If you aren’t constantly learning and developing new skills.
  13. If all you read or learn about is “selling”  or “marketing.”
  14. If you aren’t keeping current with the trends, best practices, and critical issues  impacting sales/marketing professionals, as well as your customers.
  15. If you don’t read a newspaper (or several) everyday—whether old school paper, or online/digital.
  16. If you haven’t read a book of any type in the past year.
  17. If you aren’t keeping fit–exercising, eating well.
  18. If you aren’t volunteering time or money to some cause you believe in (other than yourself).
  19. If you are using the “tools” or “systems” only because managers force you and you haven’t figured out how to leverage them for your own productivity and effectiveness.
  20. If you think what you wear, what you drive, what color your hair is, the number of piercings, tats, or a person’s age is important.
  21. If you think the number or LinkedIn or Facebook connections, Twitter followers, likes, Klout scores and the like are important.
  22. If you actively promote being an open networker on LinkedIn.
  23. If you don’t stand for something or are afraid to express your opinion to customers and within your company.
  24. If you aren’t building alliances within your company, collaborating, working as a team member.
  25. If you aren’t formally or informally mentoring and helping new sales people learn and grow.
  26. If you aren’t building deep relationships and alliances with your customers.
  27. If you are doing the same things you did to sell 10 years ago, 5 years ago, last year.
  28. If you are older and don’t learn from the “youngsters,” or think they don’t get it.
  29. If you are younger and don’t learn from your “older colleagues” or think they don’t get it.
  30. Thinking that it’s your manager’s problem.
  31. Thinking that it’s your customer’s problem.
  32. If you aren’t achieving your goals and blame it on others or something else.

The interesting thing about being relevant is it’s totally within your control.  It’s your choice, are you going to be relevant?

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  1. Great list, Dave.

    I may have missed it, but I’d add… If you haven’t solicited feedback on your hard and soft selling/management skills by someone whose opinion is worthwhile.

    • Great addition Dave! I’d add, Actively seek coaching (which is what you identify) and are coachable.

  2. Excellent blog post, Dave!

    What a creative list on relevance! Wow, you hit the nail on the hat. Relevance, in context and timely – that makes all the difference.

    BTW: I believe, that age is not so much a question of years, it’s more a question of energy! Which brings us back to relevance…

  3. John Sterrett permalink

    I’m not one for long lists, but I loved this one. And of course, I have my own addition:

    If you don’t make time away from all else to spend on your passion (music, painting, gardening, basketball, whatever.)

  4. Great list Dave. Challenging to be sure.

    A favorite of mine to weave in there would be “If you place yourself above your colleagues, customers and company.”

    While your context is the selling professional, with a modest tweak, many of the items on your list apply to our relationships outside the workplace. For instance;

    2. All you can talk about is yourself.
    3. If you don’t understand the other person’s (family member for instance) issues, challenges, priorities, opportunities.
    4. If you are more concerned with making yourself happy than helping another achieve their objectives.

    So you are not just hitting the professional world, you’re on the very essence of being a valuable and productive person.

    Thanks for the insight.

  5. I enjoyed this post, Dave! A creative and provocative To-Do list that keeps us all accountable, productive and centered.

  6. Very judging. Congrats on 32 points of negativity. Must have been a boring day for you to come up with all this stuff.

    Not the way to get clients, if that was the goal.

    • Mr/Ms Hansaker: Sorry you didn’t like the post and took it to be negative. All the other reactions have been similar to Babette’s.

      I do appreciate you taking the time to comment, it’s differing views that get great discussions going. If you take the positive expression of those characteristics, how would you change them, what would you add to describe a sales person that bring great value to customers? Would love your input. Regards, Dave

  7. Hi J.

    You completely mistook the intent of Dave’s post.

    He wasn’t pointing out negative characteristics or behaviors that sales professionals should aspire to. He was very effective in listing ineffective characteristics and behaviors.

    If you take another pass through his post, as I did, I hope you’ll see his actual (and benevolent) intention.

  8. Excellent list Dave!

    Great check list to run through on a regular basis! 🙂 I have been reading a book, “The Innovator’s DNA” and this is a great ancillary to developing the discovery skills (Questioning, Observing, Idea Networking and experimenting) needed to be a leader of innovation.

    Thanks Dave!

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