Tim Ferriss shares a story about a sales job he had early in his career. After months of struggling, he decided to spend 48 hours doing the opposite. Rather than calling from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., he only made calls from 7 to 8:30 a.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m.
It worked. Rather than reaching the typical gatekeepers during business hours, he discovered that he was able to talk directly to the CEOs and other decision makers he was trying to reach.
Ferriss decided to take the approach further and started to question other parts of his strategy as well:
What if I only asked questions instead of pitching? What if I studied technical material, so I sounded like an engineer instead of a sales guy? What if I ended my emails with “I totally understand if you’re too busy to reply, and thank you for reading this far,” instead of the usual “I look forward to your reply and speaking soon” presumptive BS? The experiments paid off. My last quarter in that job, I outsold the entire L.A. office of our biggest competitor, EMC.
Popular wisdom is often correct. But if you only ever do what everyone else is doing, you'll find yourself on a crowded playing field.
It might be easier to do the opposite instead.