We tend to overcomplicate things, particularly selling and leadership.
Billions are spent on training of all sorts. Billions are spent on tools, content, consultants. Each has their own approach, models, techniques. Each emphasizes certain things. We might focus narrowly on prospecting, or account planning, or developing better deal strategies. Some focus on skills like objection handling, closing, negotiation. Some might have broader approaches like solution, consultative or insight selling. All of these focus on how we succeed as sales people or leaders.
Likewise, the tools. programs, and other things we buy and deploy are generally focused on helping us be more successful.
Sadly, despite billions in spending and millions of “person hours” we invest in these things, we seem to be struggling with success. Sales performance numbers continue to decline (for example % of sales people making quota). Our success as leaders seems to decline, as measured by voluntary/involuntary churn, inability to meet goals, declining employee and NPS scores.
These things that are supposed to be helping us be more successful or to perform better don’t seem to be making us more successful.
So what’s the secret to success?
It turns out to be easy and very obvious. Perhaps, it’s for those reasons that we tend to overlook or discount it.
The secret is, and always has been, “How are we helping?”
As sales people, we have to think, “How am I helping my customers and prospects?”
As sales leaders, it’s similar, “How am I helping my people maximize their performance?”
By helping our customers succeed–whether it’s identifying and eliminating problems, helping them address new opportunities, helping them grow and improve, we achieve our goals. Absent this, it’s pushing a rope up a very steep hill.
Likewise, by helping our people succeed, by helping them maximize their performance, we achieve our goals and succeed.
It’s no more complicated than that, yet we make it so much more complicated. In fact, we seldom pose the questions:
- Who can we help?
- How can we help them?
- Do they want/need our help?
- Are we genuinely being helpful?
We don’t pose those questions of ourselves. We don’t reflect on what they really mean and how they drive our priorities.
We often waste time by trying to help customers/prospects, who don’t need or want our help. We try to help people we have no business helping, because where they need help has nothing to do with the problems we are the best in the world at solving.
We are, too often, focused so much on helping ourselves that we forget that we can’t be successful by just focusing on ourselves. It’s only when we shift our focus to helping others, that we succeed.
It’s not that complicated. Sadly, we don’t do it.
Afterword: Thanks to Mitch Little for provoking this article. He is so much more articulate than I, please read: “Has It Gone Full Circle” Mitch is not only articulate about this, he walks the talk. As a leader, he focuses on how he can be helpful to his people. His teams focus on how they can be helpful their customers. And it Makes A Difference!