I was tempted to title this, “Selling–A Calling Or A Job?” When I speak with people who are sellers, I often wonder, “Why did they choose to do this?” For some, it’s the easiest job to get after college. Some are drawn by the potential compensation. For some, it’s the easiest job to get, to often, the bar to get a job selling isn’t very high (this is a management problem). For some, it seems to be a bit of a holding pattern until they figure out what they really want to do.
And a small number, usually top performers, love being sellers–and all that entails. They seem to be challenged by learning and figuring out what it takes to be a top performer. It’s not just the money, it’s the professional challenge. They take pride in being sellers and performing at the highest levels possible. It’s the opportunity to figure out, for each and every deal, how to excel, how to connect with the customer, create value, helping them to achieve their goals, and through them achieve their personal goals.
Too often, we see sellers just putting in the time, going through the motions, mindlessly doing the same thing over and over, but seeing it not work. They don’t take the time to figure out what they need to change, how they get better, how they achieve more. It’s someone else’s job to figure that out–they complain to managers, sales enablement, or point their fingers at the customer, saying it’s the customer’s problem.
Managers, often contribute to this. In the first place they are too casual about hiring, believing if the person doesn’t work out, they can always hire a replacement. Or they manage to the numbers, but fail to work with their people in diagnosing and coaching them to higher levels of performance/effectiveness. They, too, tend to be going through the motions.
And this gets reinforced across the organization, we script calls, measuring people on how well they followed the script, not how much they achieved. We provide tools, measuring compliance, rather then helping people understand how to leverage these to improve performance.
Being a top performing professional, in any role, but particularly selling, requires one to be driven by understanding. What are the levers to driving performance? When we fail, why do we fail, how do we avoid that in the future? What do the people we work with — customers, colleagues, partners—care about? What are other top performers doing, what should we adapt to help us? What’s changing in our profession, how do we stay at the top levels?
The drive to understand goes beyond themselves, their capabilities, and their performance. They recognize their personal growth and success is dependent on others and helping them achieve their goals. They are driven to understand what drives their customers, how they can help the customers–and through that, how they achieve their goals. They look at their peers and others in the organization, knowing they are important contributors to success.
They are jealous about their time–not just putting in the hours, but making sure they are choosing what and how to invest their time, producing the best results.
They know they have to do the whole job to be successful, not just the easy parts. They recognize certain aspects are tedious, but know if they don’t get done, it impacts other, more important things.
In short, they care about everything they do, their customers, and their colleagues.
These top performers are proud to be sales people. They choose this profession because of the constant challenges, they are invigorated by these challenges. They realize selling is one of the most challenging jobs in business. Things are always changing, each situation is different. They have to continually learn and adapt.
They revel in their accomplishment. Not just the compensation, or even the awards/recognition. Those are nice, but most are driven by the sense of accomplishment. The ability to consistently step up to difficult challenges, learn, develop and grow.
And they are proud of their profession and being professional sellers!
I wish more sellers were as proud as these professionals are.