Don’t Avoid Standing in the Fire

My friend, Larry, is a fire fighter. When he joined and the city placed him with a company, no one talked to him, even though spent hours and hours together. They didn’t invite him into their group, denying him membership. Even though the company hired him and was paying him, he wasn’t part of the team. Because of the nature of their work, the firefighters were slow to trust him, not knowing how he would behave in a situation where lives might be on the line. They were unsure whether or not they could trust him, as he hadn’t yet been tested.

After a few months, Larry found himself in a serious house fire. The flames blew back over him and the two firefighters with him, and he had to stand between the fire and his two teammates, using the hose to protect his colleagues. He shielded the two firefighters with the water, but he was burned in the process, mostly on his neck and ears. After this event, he was a firefighter and a member of the team.

If you work in sales, your company is going to have service failures. The service failures are going to cause your clients to have problems, which in turn will become your problems. Where salespeople get themselves in trouble is when they avoid dealing with the service failures, choosing instead to blame their operations team or external factor in hopes of absolving themselves or responsibility.

My friend, Charlie Green, will tell you that trust is made up of reliability, credibility, and intimacy, divided by your self-orientation. When you demonstrate a lack of reliability, you diminish your client’s trust. When you suggest that your company isn’t reliable, that you are not responsible, you are really proving that you are not reliable, that you’re not accountable. Your company’s failing will, eventually, be remedied, but your unwillingness to own that failure and do what is in your power to make things better may not rebuild your lost reliability—and potentially your lost credibility.

There is far too much written about negative sales behaviors, most of which are not nearly as prevalent as some claim. The lack of accountability, however, is too common and too often left unaddressed. If you want to be trusted, you must be willing to be accountable for what you sell. People are relying you.

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Filed under: Sales

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