You probably don't spend much time pondering the legacy you are building at work.  It's much more common for people to approach their jobs using a checklist like the following:

  • I come in on time, even a little early
  • I see my customer contacts regularly and make sure their needs are met
  • I am on top of my reports or CRM system
  • I loyally do what the boss asks, preferably a bit faster than he or she expects
  • I operate on time and on budget

All good qualities, certainly. But if you think these actions and attitudes represent exemplary performance, think again. Today, they reflect the bare minimum for survival.

Furthermore, with the decline of middle management and supervisor to associate ratios hovering near 12 to 1, much-needed performance guidance is scarce.  If you want to achieve exceptional sales performance, you may need to start thinking differently . . . and thinking for yourself about questions like the following:

  • What can I provide that customers haven't even asked for?
  • What can I learn that will allow me to do my job better?
  • How can I make a lasting impact - at my customers' business or in my own?
  • How can I go farther, deeper into my customer's organization?
  • Do I provide real innovation?
  • How can I frighten the competition?

Recently I attended the funeral of a retired leader from an organization where I worked years ago.  Given the quality of the individual being remembered, I was not surprised by the outpouring of grief.  But I was profoundly touched by the impact this man still had, as a person and as a leader, ten years after his retirement.

So often we forget departing colleagues before they have even left the building.  But the universal fondness, reverence and gratitude felt toward this person - his accomplishments, influence and character - made me wonder how many (or few) of us in the crowd would affect so many so long after taking our leave.  What does it take to create a lasting impression? Are you a linchpin, the one who will be missed?

Think about your legacy, your platform, your point of view, your mission. Simply doing a "good job" will not delight your customers or your boss, nor will it ensure career advancement or even job security.  Doing a "good job" may get you a handshake and a watch at retirement, but you may be forgotten before you leave the building.

There are positions that give you no option but to merely do a job.  The good news is that as sales professionals, we each have the opportunity to create a legacy, to become a legend within our client organizations and our own.  Strive for excellence.  Think, how are you going to DELIGHT your customers, colleagues and, oh yeah, that boss as well?  Consider a role beyond your job, and your legacy may surprise you.