The Island of Misfit Salespeople

After attending the first annual Sales Success Summit last year in Austin, I wrote about what makes the top 1% of salespeople different. Today, I want to take a slightly different angle on my experience. I’m going to tell you how I learned the true meaning of  the phrase “it’s lonely at the top,” and what I learned when I realized I wasn’t alone.

When I first started selling, I believed it had to be done a certain way, a way I wasn't comfortable with. Instead of doing it that way, I developed methods and routines that made me feel like I was helping people. Conceptually, that made selling a concept I could get behind.

I was successful. When I switched jobs, I saw an opportunity to take a few risks and employ some new concepts. That made me even more successful.

All of this came to me intuitively. It seemed weird to some, but it made sense to me, and we all have our own ways, right? Maybe the unique concepts I was applying to sales were just what worked for me...

Success begets success. When you get the leeway to take more risks and push more envelopes, you begin to break away from the pack. Suddenly, you look around and notice you're doing things a lot differently than your peers. You’re being celebrated for your successes and recognized for being different on conference calls, team emails, and annual sales meetings. You feel different.

It's like you're on an island. Even though you're there for all the right reasons, you still feel like you're alone.

I believe that human beings have an innate need for connection. Connection energizes us and keeps us going. It's the biggest reason why serving others in our careers feels so good, and old sales-guy stereotypes make us feel gross. It's hard to differentiate and still feel connected, which can make it really hard to sell. Pretty ironic when you think about it...

When you’re on an island long enough, you start to doubt the things that got you there.

"Sure, this works, but is it too weird? Is this applicable to anybody else? Or, is it just idiosyncratic to me?"

I was in a room recently with top performers from all kinds of companies and industries. It turns out that what made me so different from my colleagues are the same things that make them different from theirs.

The very things that set top sales performers apart from average performers connect them to other top performers. If we’re on an island, we’re certainly not alone.

So what happens when top performers gather? We realize that what makes us different from the others in our niche is exactly what makes us great. Our commonalities with others who excel, help us re-connect with what motivates us. We redefine our baseline. We push more envelopes, take more risks, carry the ball further, and better the profession as a whole

Success begets success. Excellence inspires excellence.

Austin gave me that energy. Special things happened. It gave me a new perspective, and it made me very proud to be in sales.

p.s. One of the presenters from the event, Kyle Gutzler, shared some of the things he set in motion to help him double his sales in a year. That sounds like a daunting task until you look at what it took. He wrote about it on LinkedIn last year, and the piece went viral. There's a reason for that. He didn't outline anything that you can't do, and he's a sterling example of what happens when you execute. Check out his piece, here.