The Top 10 Skills You’ll Need To Win At Work | Master Sales Series
George Leith is taking us to school this week with another Master Sales Series episode. Finding success in our careers is all about development. It’s that self-awareness and knowing where you excel and where you need to invest more time. Those tasks you’ve been wanting to cross off, the conversations you’ve been wanting to have, why aren’t they happening? We get so focused in execution mode, where we just “do”, “do”, “do”. However, it’s imperative we debrief now and then to assess how we are operating and HOW we can be better. George is going to go through the following top 10 skills to win at work and discuss how you can implement them today:
- Ability to self-manage
- Stay organized
- Emotional intelligence
- Focus on teamwork
- Being able to make decisions
- Dive deep
- Active listening
- Good writing
George: This is the Conquer Local podcast. A show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organization. They wanna share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I’m your host and the creator of the show, George Leith. This week, we’re proud to present a master sales series episode, the top 10 skills you need to win at work, coming up next on the Conquer Local podcast.
We constantly get requests for further episodes around our master sales series, and we’ve done a bunch of research this week around what we feel are 10 top skills that you need to win at work today, and in three different buckets. So we’ve got personal skills, we have some leadership skills, and we have some communication skills, and we’re gonna go through those 10 items in just a few moments. But at the highest level, I want you to be thinking about these three components because we have to continue to develop some personal skills on an ongoing basis, that just needs to happen. But even if you’re an individual contributor that is on a team, I think that showing a level of leadership is very important, especially when it comes to customer-facing roles because your client or your prospect is looking for you to display leadership. And we’re gonna cover off some of those top 10 skills that map to that leadership component. And then communication, it’s always something that we need to be working on. And over the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of working with new sellers, probably more than I’ve ever had over my entire career. I’ve worked with more people that are finding the sales profession. And I find that that communication component is something that’s usually learned over a period of time, and I really wanna reiterate some of the top skills that you can hone and improve on when it comes to your communication skills. So we’ll get to that in a few moments, but first, let’s go through these personal skills.
They are the things that you should be focusing on a daily basis, they’re also the things that are gonna go by the wayside. The rigor around these components will help you in everything else that you do, but I want you to be aware when I start to see performance start to wane in me, I go back and say, “Ah, damn it Leith, you’re forgetting about these very common personal skills.” It’s, you know, the leadership thing, you’re doing that on a day to day basis, communication, I like to think I’m a better than average communicator, but on those personal things, it’s like, ah, I’m forgetting to invest that time in myself or in my personal development.
1. Ability to Self-Manage
So number one is the ability to self-manage, it’s one of the most critical skills that is needed to be successful, period. The ability to take that look, I like to call it, you know, you kinda step outside of yourself, and you take a good hard look, and then you try not to lie to yourself, and assess what’s going on, and then make those tweaks. And by setting that time aside every day, where you’re going to focus on your self-management, how am I doing, write down some notes, look at the plan that you have, see how your actions are mapping to that plan. You know, the way that I do this, and I’m not saying everybody has to wake up at some ungodly early time, what I’m saying is you need to map out this time, and you need to keep an eye on it, and have rigor around making that investment into yourself. You, number one, you deserve it, you know, you’re up for 24 hours a day, your body is operating, whether you’re sleeping, or you’re up working, or you’re taking time to relax, but you need to make that investment in yourself. I do it early rise, that’s the way that I operate, I don’t have a problem getting up early in the morning. I have some folks that I deal with, they’re great at night, like their nighthawks, they like to do it in the evening, but they’re taking that time, carving out that time for yourself.
2. Staying Organized
And then staying organized, like, come on, ongoing problem. We got books, we got all sorts of apps that are supposed to help us with this. If you just go into wherever you’re consuming this podcast, you’ll find two million of them talking about better ways to stay organized. It’s really this simple, plan the work, and work the plan, and come back to it, and come back to it, and come back to it. Whether you write it in a book, or you do it on your iPad or your phone, you have to have some sort of a plan, you have to be a mini project manager, and the project is whatever tasks that you’re taking on. I still have a to-do today list. I’ve had it for years, I remember when I first discovered that that might be a good idea to have a list, we all have that, hopefully. But I find when I’m working and coaching with folks, I’m like, “Okay, show me your plan for the week.” And they don’t have one. Oh, by the way, when you ask that question, you damn well better have your own plan nailed down because it’s a little hypocritical to ask somebody for their plan. But a lot of times when you find somebody that’s struggling or you look at yourself, and you see that you’re not hitting the metrics that you want, or the goals that you want, it’s ’cause you don’t even have a plan, you’re that wandering generality. You’re doing just what you did yesterday, not because you have a plan to move towards that goal that you haven’t set. So set the goal, plan the work, and work the plan.
3. Emotional Intelligence
I’ve talked a lot about emotional intelligence, you’ll hear guests that attend these podcasts talk about emotional intelligence. EQ more important than IQ. Not saying that you don’t have to have some level of IQ, but understanding your emotional intelligence, understanding that that’s something that you need to be working on. One of my favorite books is Kim Scott’s “Radical Candor” it touches on emotional intelligence, and how important that has been in her work. And one of her quotes is a good rule of thumb for any relationship is to leave three unimportant things unsaid each day. Like really editing that message down so that you’re delivering the most important information to your audience. You know, there’s been many times when my lizard brain kicks in, my boss talks about my lizard brain a lot, and that’s just because he’s known me for a long time and he knows how to manipulate me, no, no, he knows how to coach me. But you know, a lot of times he is right. You’re being defensive because somebody’s calling your baby ugly, or maybe there’s a way to improve your baby so it’s not so ugly. We’ve gotta maybe listen a little bit more than we talk, that’s a tough one for me because I love the sound of my own voice. But remember, we’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason. And to have that level of empathy, you’re gonna have a hell of a lot better time connecting with somebody if you connect where they are and not necessarily where you want them to be.
4. Focus on Teamwork
We’re gonna move into leadership skills now, and the number one thing in leadership is to focus on team, there’s no I in team. But I think this is important, and a team can be two. So if you are dealing with a prospect or you’re dealing with a customer, you wanna, you know, Ian Altman, “Same Side Selling,” you wanna get on their side of the table, you want to meet them where they are and then work to have them meet you where you are. When a lot of people think team, they’re thinking like nine people on a baseball team, or 10 people on a hockey team, two shifts, but a team can be just two people. And a lot of times having that idea around team will help you in your interactions with your customer.
5. Ability to Make Decisions
Now, this is one of the things that number five is the ability to make decisions. And I find that there are a lot of people walking around on this planet that are lousy decision-makers. And I’ve asked, I’ve been doing research around this, and like, why won’t you just make a frigging decision? And it really is fear, and sometimes the fear is misplaced, and sometimes the fear is well-placed because they did it and they had a bad outcome, so they’re not prepared to move forward again because of that history that they have, and the fear, the emotion that they feel. But agility, it’s a software term, by the way, or maybe it’s something to do with yoga, or something, or gymnastics where you have to have agility, but I believe that agility is something that is a part of decision-making where you need to weigh the risk and maybe ask yourself, is anybody gonna die? And a lot of people are just afraid to make decisions, they have lousy decision-making skills, and sometimes where it comes from is a fear of failure, but I also find this Instagram perfection, you know, I love the meme from Pinterest, you go to Pinterest and you’re gonna make the cupcakes and they’re going to look beautiful, and then you actually make the cupcakes and they look like dog, you know what, but it almost maps to the Pinterest thing, right? Like all of the stuff that you see online is filtered and photo-shopped and made even more perfect, and we believe that perfect is doable. And I’ve found that perfection, maybe it could be an aspiration, but it’s gonna leave you pretty lonely and unfulfilled because we’re a far cry from being perfect. So make a decision, and start getting better at making decisions.
6. Dive Deep
And the ability to dive deep, and I’m sure there are people that have worked with me over the years, going, “Holy, what’s going on with Leith talking about diving deep.” I used to be one of these, we’ll just cover off the high level, you don’t have to go, but there are certain things that you need to go deeper on. And I’m actually, I’m good at this when I’m dealing with a customer, bad at this when I’m working inside teams. And what I’ve found is my inability to dive deep is partially my personality, because I’m not built that way, but if I wanna communicate with certain people who need to dive deep to find comfort and to remove the risk that they have, the built-in bias or risk that they have, I need to have this ability to dive deep, it is a part of leadership because all the people on your team are not built equally, and your team could be that prospect or customer as we just covered. The last three items fall underneath this communication piece. When I talked off the top, we talked about personal skills as a part of the top 10.
We just covered off the leadership skills, and now we’re gonna cover off the communication skills. And a little bit of the research that we’ve found, over seven weeks a year on average are lost by workers that are seeking clarification due to piss poor communication. And it is prevalent in any organization. You just have to go to a meeting, you take a step back, and you go, “I have no idea what that presenter was talking about.” And a lot of times that is the presenter not putting themselves where the audience is, the presenter not really understanding what they want the audience to take away. So communication skills, and then remember, I’ve talked about this before, the definition of communication is not one person talking, it’s the audience understanding the message that was being conveyed.
7. Active Listening
Active listening is lost, it’s a lost art, and we just have to blame that thing in our pocket, or strapped to our wrist, or maybe we’ve got multiple devices on it, but that, you know, we gotta go to the stream, we gotta go to the notifications. That is killing active listening, and I see it in any meeting that I go to. You have all these people that claim they can multitask, and when you ask them a question to see if they’re understanding the message that you’re conveying, and they weren’t paying attention. That is super frustrating to a customer. It’s also super frustrating to your internal team. If you put together a meeting, we were in a meeting about meetings a couple of weeks ago, where a group of folks talked about what they don’t like about meetings. They wish that there was just an agenda and that we would stick to it. But what we need to do is understand what the outcome is from the communication that we’re trying to convey, and did our audience understand, is the action or the thing that we were trying to accomplish, is it starting to come true? You gotta go back to it, inspect what you were expecting.
8. Good Writing
Active listening is the first thing that we can do, but the second thing is good writing. In our organization, the organization that I work for, we’re moving to a documentation culture rather than a presentation culture. And this is a big shift, it’s a big shift for everybody in the company. And a shift for folks like me who communicate through presentations. Now we have to go in and do that documentation so I gotta take a page out of my days in the media business as an editor and a writer and a publisher, and get back into documenting things, but good writing is also a key to what we’re doing here today, where we are putting together a message around these top 10 skills that we believe you need to have today, putting them into three buckets that everybody can understand, personal skills, leadership skills, communication skills, and writing it in a story that will get you to buy into the message that we’re conveying, so that good writing is so important.
And then we come down to speaking, and it is something that we need to embrace. There are town halls, there are all hands, everybody’s on a Zoom meeting now, you need to be a prolific speaker and presenter if you’re going to operate, especially in the sales world. I don’t think there are sellers out there that are not good speakers or good presenters. If you have an important speaking opportunity coming up, what are you gonna talk about that you’re really passionate about and you really believe in? And this is, you know, if you’re a salesperson selling a new product or service, you need to go through some of those repetitions so that you feel comfortable in presenting the information. What we’re trying to get to is your passion coming through and helping you to make an even bigger splash with your message, and a bigger impact with your audience.
And then finally, the long-lost art of networking, and you can do it through social media, you can do it in a room. I actually have had the chance to do some in-room networking again, after a long hiatus, and I found that some of my skills were a little rusty, and I needed to go back to some of those. So we were just at a convention in Las Vegas a week ago, I was there with a number of colleagues, we had two teams at two different events, and we did a little bit of role-playing leading into it just to get that team. If I’m feeling rusty and I have zero fear, then how does somebody who’s brand new in that environment going to move forward with networking if we haven’t done a little bit of work on that? So, you know, one of the tactics you could use is practicing that. Remember Matthew Pollard, the author of “The Introvert’s Edge to Networking” talks about some of the skills that you can work on if you’re not a natural networker, and I’d encourage you to go back to those episodes here, we had Matt on two different episodes where he talks about that.
So in conclusion, the top 10 skills that you need to win at work. In the first bucket of personal, the ability to self-manage, to stay organized, and emotional intelligence being one of the most important skills that you are starting to improve. And then under the bucket of leadership that focuses on teamwork, and the team could just be two people in an interaction, work on your decision-making skills, because the majority of us have lousy decision-making skills. The ability to dive deep and to meet your audience where they are, if they need to dive deep you have to have that ability so that you can meet that client, or that prospect where they are, or your audience where they are. And then participate in that active listening, the good writing, your speaking skills, and your networking skills, all a part of that final bucket of communication. We hope that these top 10 skills will help you to win at work as we move into the next year. 2022 is right around the corner and we hope that those have been valuable to you this week on the Conquer Local podcast. Thanks for joining us on this master sales series episode of the Conquer Local podcast. We’ve produced over 200 episodes in the past four seasons to help you conquer local. If you found value in this episode, please leave us a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. This feedback will help us grow and better adapt to what you wanna hear in future episodes. Be sure to subscribe to the Finney Award-winning Conquer Local podcast, as we continue to welcome extraordinary sales leaders, marketers, and entrepreneurs. My name is George Leith, I’ll see you when I see you.