Do the Opposite

11 Oct

If you didn’t have Monday off, maybe you failed to notice the passing of Columbus Day. 519 years ago, America was “discovered” and the world became a little flatter as Thomas Friedman would put it – and things would never be the same again. Christopher Columbus was a salesman who had to knock on many doors before he received funding for his big voyage. Let’s get to China by sailing West instead of East and I think we might get there faster (OK, so he wasn’t completely correct). He challenged leadership to look at the world upside down and finally succeeded with his pitch to Queen Isabella of Spain.

George Costanza from Seinfeld was typically NOT a contrarian. But on one of my favorite episodes, George took a completely opposite approach going against his instincts with every important decision. Because it was unorthodox, he began to succeed in his work and social life. The moment he returned to his normal patterns, of course, everything went wrong again.

So what the heck do Columbus and Costanza have to teach us about business and sales? Differentiation. Do the opposite. I believe we are way too often stuck in a rut  – doing the same thing over and over again expecting the same results. You are doing what your competitors do. You are selling the same way you did 20 years ago. You work hard, but not always smart.

Analyze a few of your business strategies and offer something to your customer that no one else offers.

  1. Give a sample of your work away for free so they can see the difference in your product or service.
  2. Understand their industry better than anyone and provide solutions specific to only them.
  3. In a job search, refuse to fill out the on-line applications until you have a real advocate inside the company that will actually look at it.
  • For my business, Blue Octopus, I offer a unique pricing model that shares the risk that no one else in my industry offers.
  • I slow down my clients and require they dedicates a lot of time up front; we redefine who they want to hire, even if it becomes painful, and even though they won’t probably meet the first candidate for 4-5 weeks in the future.
  • We ask candidates not only about their skills but questions about personality, culture and their overall career direction.
  • I allocate little time with everyone who contacts me, but instead commit most of my time to a handful of people who I can really help.

In the end, I’m always trying to figure out what my key clients, prospects and candidates want. Otherwise, they don’t really care what I have to offer. Be different. Do the opposite. Think like George Costanza and Christopher Columbus.

Make every day count~ Drew Schmitz


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