It’s Not Being Best, It’s Setting the Standard.

It’s Not Being Best, It’s Setting the Standard.

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

It’s Not Being Best, it’s Setting the Standard.

When I say the words, “set the standard,” what comes to your mind?

Is it personal standards of yours?
Is it standards that your business sets?
Is it standards you have in your mind about other people?
Is it standards you have in your mind about other products?

When you go to a restaurant and order your favorite steak, you’ll always recall the one restaurant (especially if it’s the one you’re in) that had the best steak (or whatever your favorite food was). That restaurant set the standard. All other steaks you will ever eat will be compared to the standard bearer, until one day you may get a better steak, and then that restaurant will become the new standard bearer.

You know and recognize dozens of standard setters in your life — especially if these products or people are amazing and have your undying loyalty and especially if you proactively refer them. It could be as simple as the best ice cream or the best apple pie. It could be the best dentist or the best chiropractor. It could be the best financial planner.

And it could also be your own brand loyalty. The best car. The best clothing. The best computer. The best phone. Things that you would never consider doing without.

Whatever those products are, whoever those people are, they set the standard. Your standard.

There are third party standards

  • Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single basketball game. He didn’t just set a record. He set the standard.
  • Abe Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. It wasn’t just a speech. He set the standard.
  • At the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech to 500,000 people. It wasn’t just a speech. He set the standard.

The Beatles. Elvis Presley. They set the standard and paved the way for others.

When Wilt Chamberlain set the standard for scoring, it was on March 2, 1962. That standard has endured more than 50 years. Kobe Bryant’s 81 points were good, but not as good as Wilt’s 100 points — the standard.

Accomplishments are always compared to standard. Quality is always compared to standard. Products are always compared to standard. You know what the best products in your industry are. If you work for that company, you love it and vice versa.

MAJOR CLUE: Now that you get the idea of what I’m talking about, let’s talk about your business and your career.

What standards are you setting and who are the people involved in setting those standard — not just in your company, but also in the mind of your customer and in the reputation of your business in your community and in your industry?

If you’re not setting the standard, you’re fighting price. Reputation trumps price.

Your reputation stems from what others think about you and say about you. In today’s world, it’s what others post online about you. Reputation comes from setting standards in service, quality of product, consistency, and availability.

You may think of it as “best.” But there’s a big difference between bragging about the fact you are the “best” and “we set the standard.”

There are many products in which you can argue “who is best.” There’s often an obvious winner. German automobile engineering has set the standard. Many computer products are best. Microsoft set the old standard and Apple set the new standard. There are many social media sites that can be argued as better than others, but Facebook set the standard.

As a salesperson, I’d like you to take a moment and evaluate (or should I say self-evaluate) where you are on the standard-setting scale. Are you just a rep? Are you one of the top 25% of reps? Or have you achieved the status of trusted advisor, who is setting standards not just in sales numbers, but also in customer loyalty, profitability, and relationships.

What about your company? What standards are they setting? What high ethical ground have they achieved?

If you look at the example of Bank of America, you see a century-old company who had set many standards and achieved global greatness. All that was destroyed by indiscriminate greed and a total lack of understanding of social media in general. Standard bearers can fall quickly. Just ask Tiger Woods.

I’ll admit this is pretty high-level thinking and for many of you reading this. You may believe that setting the standard is out of your personal control — especially standards that your company sets. But in the new world of transparency, thanks to the internet, mothered by Google and social media, you now have the opportunity to build your personal brand, create your personal reputation, and set your own personal standards — standards that will remain yours even if you change companies or careers.

I challenge you that the key word in standard setting is endure. Set standards that will last. Many have come and gone quickly. Don’t be one of them.