Look Good + Feel Good= Sell Great!

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A bold shoe for the office statement maker

Say what you want but,’ you are who you are’, regardless of industry. In this case, I may be a salesperson but I’m a girly girl underneath it all. I would spend my days,UNPAID, slaving away in the Vogue Fashion Closet, being pelted with insults by Anna Wintour, if the opportunity presented itself.

Being the product of a strict private school upbringing only increased my love for all things fashion oriented. Knee socks, plaid skirts, embroidered cardigans, and shoe regulations were the bane of my high school existence. I loved special ocassions which allowed me to demonstrate my flair for the fashionable but I didn’t realize the value of that passion for “superficial presentation” and how it would translate in the business world. Interestingly enough, many people misunderstand the true impact of physical presentation.

My current salesworld is a maze of cubicles with more inside work than office visits. It started off as a business casual work environment for salesreps while operations wore “street clothes”. As a matter of fact there was initially a “B”sales team with less stringent standards (another post for another day) that had a street clothes policy. I am an “A” player so I didn’t have that option.

I had no complaints about the difference in clothing. I chose to dress in business trendy. Not buttoned up suits, but chic wrap dresses, statement necklaces, trendy pieces, and conversation worthy shoes. I put effort into my appearance EVERYDAY. I dressed for the job I wanted and the respect that I deemed my role worthy of.

“Dressing up” was the term I always heard in reference to my appearance and I was okay with that. Dressing up kept my energy UP during a strenuous 8 hour day in a cubicle, motivating myself to keep dialing. Dressing up kept me from slouching in my chair and getting too comfortable physically and mentally. Dressing up reminded me consistently that I was at work and, for the most part, helped me refrain from and limit bar stool conversation. Dressing up translated to a reputation of being serious about my craft and my clients. Dressing up set me apart. Dressing up was a huge difference between being number one and the first loser.

Appearance matters. In the Devil Wears Prada, Glenn Close points out to Anne Hathaway that even people who scoff at fashion make a concerted effort to show they don’t care. Wrinkled jeans and faded polos will never translate as the standard uniform of a winner, not because it’s not fashionable, but because it speaks volumes about the mentality of its wearer.

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Get Your Hands Off My Intellectual Property

A good friend and respected colleague contributed to my professional library by providing me with a book that I’ve come to value called, Linchpin: Are you Indispensable by Seth Godin. The book, in a nutshell, discusses the decisions you make, your future, your potential and how you make yourself relevant. That’s a really brief, almost vague nutshell that doesn’t do it justice so GO BUY IT! At the end of the day the book is only as valuable as its impact on each reader and this one had significant impact for me.

One of the major takeaways while reading it was that my Intellectual Property  is the thing that makes me valuable everywhere that I go.  I have gained more career opportunities and professional experience based on my differences from other potential hires than by how closely I match the job description posted. What great employers come to realize as I go through a hiring process is that my mind is my greatest asset. Once I’m hired if they’re smart they take advantage of it. If they are insecure they attempt to cage me in via micro management and other useless tools of the fearful leader.

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My well used, dog eared copy of a great book!

Creativity in thought and action has been a major component to my success over the years. While other sales reps relied on high-priced degrees to show their value, I entered the work world without a piece of paper validating that I could read a book and pass a test but competed and frequently surpassed those who were institutionally educated. I don’t say that to argue the value of a degree, I’ll spout my feelings about that in another post, but rather to show that the thing that has made me a “player” is something that can’t be duplicated easily or sometimes at all. By the time a competing salesperson has “pulled my card”, I’ve moved on to another trick or I have so many cards in play simultaneously that I don’t have to worry about being directly replicated.

My Intellectual Property is the thing that galvanizes me when I feel unappreciated or have effectively outgrown my position. It gives me the confidence to efficiently review my successes and determine my value so that I can present it well to others and open new doors. In a recent experience, my IP proved to be the thing that kept an employer from showing me the door when I gave two weeks notice (a rare occurrence in a book of business oriented sales world). Asking me to stay through the two weeks was less about their love for me and proof positive that I was indispensable because of what I knew and even more significant hard to replace.

Ultimately Intellectual Property, if focused on and developed, can offer you a level of assuredness in a world that offers very little job security and shows even less appreciation for the person that can follow directions, manipulate a computer, and tow the corporate line. It should give you the feeling that you are “KING/QUEEN of the world” because it sets you apart. My recommendation, push yourself to the most painful points of honesty and growth so that you can walk into any situation confident that you are truly an individual because of what you can offer. For a person whose IP is acutely developed they can put someone in your chair but you can never be replaced.

Barista, Therapist, Friend

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It’s cliché, I know, a blogger who hangs out in coffee shops, but I confess that not only do I hang out at my local purveyor of chai and lattes, I actually have an emotional girl crush on my barista.

Her name is Maureen, and she is the proverbial “fiery redhead”.  Sure, Maureen has the ability to provide me with chai that has  just the right balance of spicy, creamy flavor but this has now been proven to be the least of her virtues.  The depth of her value is actually the equivalent of a great hairstylist, you know, the one that keeps you talking for your entire two-hour appointment.  In his past life Dr. Phil was Maureen and that’s the only reason he is so good today.  Snarky but helpfully direct, deep but irreverent and painfully honest while being informative, this woman has talked me off the ledge more than once.

A few mornings ago, following a particularly enraging day with a new boss, I knew that a trip to Starbucks would be a necessity before I went back to the office. Maureen asked how things were going and although I’d like to blame it on a caffeine induced meltdown, I honestly was just happy that someone asked and told her the truth.  For lack of better terms I vomited my pain all over her serviceably understandable crocs (please ignore the only time that you will see me validate the existence of Crocs).

No need to get too detailed about what was said, all you need to know is that her best advice boiled down to  ‘It’s important to teach people perspective.  Walk into his office and take him on a little journey back to the moment that you both experienced but make sure that he understands that you are switching roles.  He needs to understand what your feeling was in that moment.’

I know, it sounds emotional and schmary but the way that she delivered it was straight forward, no smile.  It was pure confrontation and a directive to BE BRAVE and KNOW YOUR VALUE.  Bottom line, it worked and as I move forward to my new position with another company, the only thing I regret is leaving my Barista.   Where the hell am I gonna find a therapist that charges $4.85 a session?

Two Week Notice or Purgatory

(I’ve been a little incognito since starting the blog, for good reason…..)

Two week notice must have been what Dante envisioned when he wrote the first circle of Hell, Limbo.  The place in which you know that the joys of Heaven are out there but your own commitment or perhaps lack of, keeps you from them.

In the salesworld it’s often an immediate intro to an all expense paid 2 week vacation but for those of us behind on our Hail Mary’s and confessions it’s the beginning of a living nightmare.

So for two weeks I am subjected to a successful salesreps worse position…inactivity. 

As I sit between the proverbial rock and a hard place, wish me luck and my sanity!!

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Not me but some guy apparently experiencing the same thing.