Hello friends. I started my sales career for a publicly traded software company in 1987. I was 27, ambitious, competitive and out to prove that I had what it took to be a peer among the best salespeople anywhere.
“Focus on the customer” and “prospecting with integrity” were not among the top agenda items I recall from sales meetings. On one occasion, now over 30 years ago, I listened in partial bewilderment as one of our top sales people thanked his customers for making him successful! Today I have no doubts about the wisdom of this statement.
I believe that true power in sales comes when the salesperson truly understands that making ones quota and placing top priority on meeting customer needs are deeply integrated aspects of the same formula. Think about this…. A company cannot be successful in meeting the needs of its customers unless its sales people are successful! Let me break this down further by discussing this topic in terms of mission, culture and obligation.
First let me ask you about your mission? You might define it as the deepest part of who you are and what you believe. Based on this personal creed, what values do you express through everyday behavior that reflect integrity with your mission? I believe the highest performing sales people are very clear on what is important to them and they are relentless in seeking out and becoming part of organizations where there is clear alignment between their personal mission and the mission of their organization!
What about culture? In an organization culture is what one would observe as the common expression of values, manifest through behavior that is shared throughout an organization; top to bottom. If you are fortunate enough to experience this, it can be magic. There is a common bond, sense of purpose and true power that one owns. You know what to do without being told. If values are aligned you are simply being you!
Finally, obligation. A company’s mission will be a concise statement clearly defining the results that it helps its customers achieve. In any commercial organization its obligation is to make a profit. Yes, it’s not only okay to make a profit, it is an obligation! Without this, the company cannot fulfill its mission. As sales people we are obligated to effectively utilize our company’s resources in serving our company’s (and our own) mission!
So, how does a top performing salesperson truly integrate serving his customers and consistently exceed quota?
- If you have not done so, I encourage you to spend some quiet time thinking about what is most important to you. Write your thoughts down. Be thoughtful and concise with your words. Come back to it on occasion. Ask yourself everyday if you are acting consistently with your deepest truth. If you are interested in more, the first three chapters of Stephen Covey’s book; “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” were a good source for me.
- Remember the “rule of the harvest”. If you try to cram success you will not be able to circumvent the consequences on your internal (and inevitably your external) world.
- Find an organization, promote a product or service where the results bring true alignment with your personal mission and that of your company. Don’t short cut this process by quickly accepting words exchanged in an interview or by reading a web site. Remember the statement, “What you are doing screams so loudly I can’t hear a word you are saying”. If after evaluating your current situation you see a disconnect, ask yourself if you can positively influence change in your organization. If not, consider making a change at the right time for you.
- Remember that serving your customer means that you are obligated as a trusted company steward to effectively use your resources and the resources of your company. This may mean at some point saying “no” to a prospective customer!
In the next posting I will share specific examples of what effectively incorporating obligation into the buying process might look like. For now let me leave you with this thought. The benchmark and unyielding quest for any high performing sales person is to constantly improve her proficiency in directly engaging prospective buyers and helping them quickly get to the point where they can (maybe better than you) clearly articulate:
- Their needs and motivation for change;
- How your product or service will help them meet their needs!
When this happens “closing the deal” for the price you are asking becomes a non event. The buyer truly buys in a win/win exchange!
Your Salesman for Life,
Quote I had a chance to reflect on from my nephew’s graduation on Saturday:
“Live like you are going to die tomorrow. Learn like you are going to endure forever”
One thought on “Stop Preaching about the Customer…I have a Quota to Make!”
Hi Jim: Good article. Much food for thought. When you say, “In any nonprofit its obligation is to make a profit. Yes it’s not only okay to make a profit, it is an obligation!” How do you measue profit? Is it in terms of service provided, parties participating, funds raised to support services or I guess all three. I never thought of a nonprofit as showing a profit. Good point.