Are You Boring, Or Simply Irrelevant?


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Last week, a couple of my friends looked at a couple of different, but parallel issues. Jim Keenan published You’re Boring. I struggled through the post, took me a couple cups of coffee to stay awake—just kidding Jim! Dave Stein posed a question about Age Discrimination on Google +. (It’s hard being a 26 year old, with Grey hair, people mistakenly think I’m much older.) The root of both these issues is “Are You Relevant?”

Too often, people confuse the wrong things. Using the latest, coolest technology. Following the latest trends, whether music, appearance, tools. Being seen at the “right events,” hanging out with the “cool people,” whether it’s in the customer, in your own company, or in “social communities” is all meaningless if you aren’t relevant. Relevance trumps boring, relevance trumps age. Relevance trumps everything else.

You are irrelevant if:

  1. You don’t know your product or services.
  2. All you can talk about is your product and services.
  3. If you don’t understand the customer’s markets, customers, issues, business challenges, strategies, priorities, growth opportunities.
  4. If you are more concerned with making quota than helping the customer achieve their objectives.
  5. If you can’t create value in every interchange you have with the customer.
  6. If you can’t articulate and quantify the business value you create in terms meaningful to the customer.
  7. If you don’t know how to leverage your sales process to make you more effective and impactful.
  8. If you measuring volume of activity independent of quality of outcomes.
  9. If you aren’t doing formal pre-call planning and research for every meeting.
  10. If you aren’t documenting your opportunity strategy and keeping it updated.
  11. If you don’t take the time to plan and analyze your territory, pipeline, funnel, what you are trying to do to achieve your goals
  12. If you aren’t constantly learning and developing new skills.
  13. If all you read or learn about is “selling” or “marketing.”
  14. If you aren’t keeping current with the trends, best practices, and critical issues impacting sales/marketing professionals, as well as your customers.
  15. If you don’t read a newspaper (or several) everyday—whether old school paper, or online/digital.
  16. If you haven’t read a book of any type in the past year.
  17. If you aren’t keeping fit–exercising, eating well.
  18. If you aren’t volunteering time or money to some cause you believe in (other than yourself).
  19. If you are using the “tools” or “systems” only because managers force you and you haven’t figured out how to leverage them for your own productivity and effectiveness.
  20. If you think what you wear, what you drive, what color your hair is, the number of piercings, tats, or a person’s age is important.
  21. If you think the number or LinkedIn or Facebook connections, Twitter followers, likes, Klout scores and the like are important.
  22. If you actively promote being an open networker on LinkedIn.
  23. If you don’t stand for something or are afraid to express your opinion to customers and within your company.
  24. If you aren’t building alliances within your company, collaborating, working as a team member.
  25. If you aren’t formally or informally mentoring and helping new sales people learn and grow.
  26. If you aren’t building deep relationships and alliances with your customers.
  27. If you are doing the same things you did to sell 10 years ago, 5 years ago, last year.
  28. If you are older and don’t learn from the “youngsters,” or think they don’t get it.
  29. If you are younger and don’t learn from your “older colleagues” or think they don’t get it.
  30. Thinking that it’s your manager’s problem.
  31. Thinking that it’s your customer’s problem.
  32. If you aren’t achieving your goals and blame it on others or something else.

The interesting thing about being relevant is it’s totally within your control. It’s your choice, are you going to be relevant?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Dave: I learned from your list, and enjoyed reading it. I’m not sure about the ‘irrelevant’ part, but I agree that salespeople who lapse into some of the unfortunate patterns you listed are less likely to be successful.

    I particularly liked your mentions about learning and about being fluent on topics outside of one’s own product or service. I think you summed those ideas up neatly in #23.

    Similarly, exercising and eating right are connected with sales success, though it’s talked about less often. Sales readiness means being mentally prepared. That favors those who maintain a good diet and exercise regimen.

    There’s significant friction from #4, quota attainment. We talk about how important it is for salespeople to help customers meet their objectives, but salespeople are measured and for the most part, compensated on revenue achieved against quota. Sometimes salespeople are coached that by focusing on helping customers reach objectives that logically, revenue will follow, and by extension, quota will be achieved. For some, that’s quite a leap of faith.

    Sales organizations can bring the two–meeting customer objectives and making quota–into closer alignment. But it takes more than telling salespeople that “it’s all about making our customers successful,” and then rewarding them for behaving otherwise.

  2. Andy, thanks for the comment. I really like what you’ve said–customer success and quota attainment are not in conflict. In fact they should be aligned.


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