In the dog-eat-dog world of business, there are many factors that impact your ability to be successful. Luckily, you can learn some fairly useful lessons from man’s best friend to make you stand out in the pack.
1. A dog is only a dog. There is an abundance of costumes available for your pet, and you can dress him up to suit whatever whimsical fancy crosses your mind. At the end of the day, your dog is still a dog regardless of how realistic his Ewok outfit looks. Follow your dog’s example and be yourself all of the time. Your ability to develop long lasting relationships is directly impacted by how genuine you are. If your customer asks if you like the Greenbay Packers and you are rightly a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan, tell them honestly that you respect their right to be grossly wrong. They’ll appreciate your honesty (maybe not your comment.)
2. Leave your mark on the world. Fido is constantly exploring new territory and frequently urinating on everything. He is letting the canine world know that he’s been there and they are inside his domain. Do the same in your professional life. Be adventurous and memorable. Do something different tomorrow. Strive to expand your world and take your customer along for the ride. Do NOT pee on the CFO’s desk though.
3. Sniff a lot of butts. Obviously this is not literal advice, but it is an analogy to get outside of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to everyone. That smelly lady in procurement might seem like a choice candidate to avoid, but there is no way of knowing if she will become the gatekeeper of your next big deal. Your best relationships can often come from the people you would least expect.
4. Get rid of fleas. You see your dog scratching furiously and biting at himself. He’s picked up fleas from his last half day jaunt around the neighborhood after jumping the fence. As a dog owner, you know if you fail to treat him quickly that a few fleas will turn into an infestation. Fleas suck and at times so will numerous things in your sales career- customers will lie to you, quotas will become unreasonable, and various other items that will prevent you from meeting your business goals. Find a way around, over, under, or through these challenges quickly before you find yourself slipping into an unproductive rut.
5. Be loyal. You can forget your dog while he is outside in the rain, and he’ll still come up and shower you with love. He’ll protect you from strangers, and even on your worst day, try to make everything better by grabbing a toy for an impromptu tug-of-war match making you forget whatever was troubling you in the first place. Loyalty is important. Be loyal to your customers. Buy their products. Find them jobs if there are layoffs. Drive them home after a happy hour turns into a happy night because you genuinely care about them as people and not just a paycheck. Your success relies upon their commitment not to pickup the phone when your competitors are calling. Be loyal to your colleagues. Send kudos to their management when a support team member goes above and beyond for you. If you know your inside sales counterpart makes crappy money but they were instrumental in closing your last deal, take some of your commission and send them a token of appreciation.
6. Don’t be a bad dog. You come home to find your couch cushion lying in foam chunks throughout the house. The water bowl is upside down, and there are sufficient puddles to make you wonder if a gremlin erupted from it at midnight. Your dog immediately tucks his tail between his legs and knows you are upset. He’s been a bad dog. Learn from his example and do not make the same mistakes. Do not be a bad salesperson. Do not pressure your customer when they are not ready to buy. Call your customer after the sale and especially when they are out of their buying cycle. Let them know that you care as much about them and their business when they are not spending money as when they are. Don’t yell at your order processing folks because they forgot to book a deal. Understand they are people too and sometimes make mistakes. Be a good dog and a good salesperson!
I am certain you are aware of many of the above analogies, but as a sales professional we often forget that as any professional, constant reinforcement and practice is required to become great. The next time you look at your dog, maybe you will see other characteristics that will help you sell better and live happier.