It All Starts With Why.

When you ask an audience if their parents were or are in Sales, I bet many hands would go up. Then if you asked them about what they sell, they would know: They sell all kinds of products, solutions or services. It goes silent, however, when asked if they would know why they are in Sales. Why is anyone in Sales? Why are you in Sales, and what is your purpose? That is not easy to answer for many.

The question is even more challenging to answer because we still deal with Sales stereotypes portrayed in old and recent movies like Jerry Maguire and The Wolf of Wall Street. As if we are all pushy and manipulative, focused on ourselves to achieve a sale at all costs. But it makes you think, why are we in Sales? What is driving us? And how does the Customer perceive us? How would we like to be perceived by the Customer?

I started to read the book ‘Start With Why’, by Simon Sinek. He argues why organizations and great leaders guided by a clear -Why They Are Doing Things- will succeed more often than those who don’t. He gives examples of Apple vs Dell and great leaders like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Would that be the same for Salespeople? Hypothetically, would a Salesperson with a clear purpose of why they sell, be more successful than those who don’t?

Salespeople, who sell in the traditional way, generally start with “Whats” and “Hows” because that’s what their customers ask for, and that’s how they have been trained. Customers ask for many features to drive better quality and great service at the lowest price. These Salespeople listen to their Customers, identify what they need and sell solutions to meet those needs. In good faith, thinking they are helping their Customers, they explain what they will do and how they will do it.

If you think of it, Salespeople who act like that sell commodities and constantly struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition. Chasing the competition and trying to match them feature-for-feature only deepens the “What” culture. You may convince a stakeholder of What they need, but will that stakeholder take action to influence other stakeholders? Probably not. They just want a better price.

On the other hand, if you are a salesperson who always comes up with new business ideas, new insights and stories of what works and what doesn’t, then you make stakeholders reflect on their situation and challenges and how your new information will help them achieve what they are trying to achieve.

Then Customers will start to perceive you as someone they can trust because you have their goals in mind, not yours. You don’t come with features, advantages and benefits to their table. Instead, you advise how things can be done differently and will help the Customer with their business objectives like growth, loyalty, costs or whatever plans they have set out to achieve.

In preparation for Sales conversations, Trusted Advisors focus on uncovering situational Knowledge that may change their Customer perspective to help them move forward in their buying process.

It all starts with Why and Why Change? Selling is helping, and you may just have found your purpose!

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