I and those in my company, we’re on a mission—an intrinsic mission to help people with making their sales cultures better. In other words, we are about transformation.
This causes me to realize that we’re all broken and imperfect—ourselves, our sales teams, and our reps. We’re in this broken world looking for transformation. We all need a word, a thought, an idea, someone to bring us information, or the encouragement that will help us get better, improve, and make our lot in life more peaceful, predictable and successful.
How we define success may be different—reaching goals, being happy, winning against the competition, financial freedom, traveling, status … and the list goes on and on.
Those around me have chased a lot of these things. I have. During the chase, we’ve learned that success is not tied to any of them, all of which are personal benefits or extrinsic trophies. Each of them can be taken away from us in a single second without our permission. Just think about the Ukraine war, 911, COVID, or cancer.
It’s easy to realize that some of the things we run after are fleeting wisps of recognition or “feel good wind”, and, if we get them, they either lead us to a fear of loss or the shallow vanity that occurs when striving to create a worthwhile and lasting identity that others recognize as success—think of Facebook and Instagram likes or postings.
Social media can’t provide the real and worthwhile relationships we need. Pew research tells us that 64% of people in the U.S. say that social media has a mostly negative effect. The scientific research tells us that it can distract, disrupt sleep, provide a negative body image, expose people to bullying, spread rumors, contribute to depression and anxiety, and give us an unrealistic view of other people’s lives.
Selling for Impact and Customer Satisfaction
Sales is an interesting profession—some say one of the oldest. In the early years of America, traveling salespeople stuck their feet in the door, snake oiled their way across small towns in the West, and scammed people with sewing machines, timeshare paradise or used car ownership.
A few professionals have seen their customers as real people with needs, problems, and catastrophes saved by the money of an insurance policy covering the house that now stands in ashes. They’ve been saved by connections to others that the wireless device gave them after their purchase, the vehicle that gets them to work safely, or the replacement windows that protect them in winter. Real, authentic sales professionals think about the value of what they do for the benefit of others. That’s success—real success. It’s more than trinkets, trips, and trophies. It has a great impact for the lives people live.
That reminds me of Hoss Holt, who sold Nationwide Insurance for years. In my early married years, my mom told me to call Hoss and that, “He would only sell me what I needed.” I remember the experience in our small apartment with Hoss and my bride to this day—the caring, listening man whose customers had been with him for forty years or more. Hoss has long since passed away, and we still have Nationwide Insurance. The Nationwide brand and Hoss still mean something to us.
I also know wireless sales professionals who have enjoyed the same repeat customers for years, and they have tons of referrals. I know car salespeople who experience the same customer loyalty and sell to the same people over and over again. While rare, these reps exist in many sales organizations.
The Wrong Approach in Leadership
In some cultures, an opposite set of negative values, beliefs, and attitudes with a short-term sales impact stream from the leadership to the sales reps hired and coached. The sales managers and leaders approach coaching as a kind of sociopathic, narcissistic manipulation and use motivation by trinkets and superficial praise. Their faked empathy and low conscientious personalities toward those they lead, prospects, and customers attracts dishonest, status driven, or money-at-all-cost reps.
Their teams’ focus and corresponding cultural tapestry of personal rewards repels service-minded, ethical reps—the ones that would want to approach their role as long-term professionals like Hoss. Their cultures act as incubators of low relationship, short-term, pitch-focused selling machines.
I once had a CEO of a start-up home improvement organization tell me he really thought that the reps he wanted would have a streak of larceny. This was directly opposite of a President of a Renewal by Andersen affiliate who said he would fire top reps for being dishonest.
Integrity-Driven Sales Managers
While rare, I’ve seen sales managers and leaders who spend the long hours necessary to meet with, ask questions, listen, and get to know each rep as an individual. They do this to understand their motivation and needs as a person and as a sales rep. They use this information to customize the coaching and counseling they give. Every day they work to help each person build new and successful habits and attitudes—ones that will help them achieve incomes that will make their life better.
They recruit honest, hard-working, responsible and service-minded people—conscientious people motivated by competition or income while they also work to fulfill the expectations of their leaders, co-workers, and customers. While these values are not perfect in anyone, even the leaders that lead them behave as examples of these values. They make sure that their reps understand and meet the customer service and sales process standards they communicate. Customer and client stories of problems solved flow back and forth in their sales cultures.
A Journey of Transformative-Growth and Lasting Leadership
Everyday, you work to be one of these rare leaders of sales professionals. You realize that transformation and growth is possible, because each day you work on your values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. You know you’re not perfect, but you also know you are better than you were in the past. Your optimism and belief in the growth possibilities for others rubs off on all you lead.
You know to recruit character first—conscientious people motivated toward goals, honesty, and doing the work that is hard with a concern for others and their welfare. With this starting mixture of high-potential clay, you train them, coach them, listen to them, encourage them, provide them with standards, and trust them to do their jobs.
You do not micromanage. Instead, you give them as much autonomy as possible. They know you expect them to see the right number of people, get out the right number of quotes, close at an acceptable level, and keep their average sales size high enough that they achieve their goals and help to create loyal customers and a strong brand.
Every day for you is a day of transformation, a day of getting better, a day of service, and a day of opportunities for growth, achievement, and ambition fueled by the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Thanks for all you do. I appreciate you and what you do for those you lead.