Are you outstanding in your field or out standing in a field?

Are you outstanding in your field or out standing in a field?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


You can be “in the field” or you can “lead the field.”

Which do you think is better? Lead the field, of course. Which are you? Uh oh. In the field.

And some of you are saying, “Oh, Jeffrey I couldn’t lead my field. I’m just a sales rep.” And you are wrong.

Most leaders start at the bottom.

How do you make the transition? Not a simple answer but well worth it to explore. And there’s some great news you don’t have to be the biggest to be the leader. You don’t even have to be the best to be the leader. You only have to be perceived as a leader by your customers and other peers.

And you don’t have to lead the world you just need to establish a leadership position. You just need to be perceived as being one notch ahead of your competition. That seems a bit more doable, now doesn’t it?

And then there’s the question, “why should I be, or why do I need to be a leader?” Money answer: leaders have an easier time attracting business, and are called upon when answers are needed. Power answer: They are a resource for information and influence.

Everyone in the field knows the leader, not everyone in the field knows the salesman and in sales, there is a little known truth that can make all the difference in your success: In sales, it’s not who you know. In sales, it’s who knows you.

Here are 11.5 elements to help you become a leader in your field:

1. Read about your field from old sources. Know the history of your field and the people who influenced it. You must study this for 15 minutes a day.

2. Know what’s new, now. Know your present situation and position.

3. Know what’s next. Stay on the cutting edge of your market’s information. This means networking in high places, and having the right contacts.

4. Follow the “experts” and see if you can best them. When you see what others have done, figure out how to improve (not criticize) it.

5. Write about it. Writing forces you to be a trendsetter, and you are seen as a (well positioned) leader.

6. Speak in public. Develop one area of expertise and get in front of a group of influencers and impress them.

7. Study creativity. A science that will be mandatory to master in the 21st century. Creativity may be the only thing that separates you from the ordinary and the others.

8. Befriend the influential people. Become known as a person of value, and you will find it easy to make friends in high places.

9. Have one or two big people or customers who love you. You need supportive fans that cheer about you behind your back, and give you a boost.

10. Give value first. This element could be at the top of the list. Become known as a person who gives more than takes.

11. Study the science of positioning. Create ways for you to become known. Improve ways to stay in front of your customers and your market.

11.5 Find a mentor and earn your way in. You want to be a leader? Learn from other leaders.

These elements must be mastered one at a time. You don’t become a leader in a day, you become a leader day-by-day.

Oh yeah, two more minor things You gotta believe you can and you gotta be passionate about what you’re trying to achieve.

Whew! Tall order but that’s why there are so few leaders. It’s hard work. In my study of sales success I have been startled most by this revelation: Most salespeople won’t do the (up front) hard work that it takes to make selling easy. When you arrive in the leadership position making sales is easier and more fun.

I just finished listening to the first recordings of Earl Nightingale’s famous series, “Lead the Field.” It was originally published on 33 1/3 speed records back in the 60’s. Earl Nightingale was one of my mentors and he never knew it. His records and tapes made me understand that I could accomplish anything if I believed strongly and worked hard. His message is as timely and true today as it was then.

What are you doing to lead your field? The answer is usually two words: not enough.