There is an order to grow. First, an individual grows, becoming something more than they once were. Then their results grow, the natural product of their personal and professional growth.
Most people stop working on the first part of this equation, especially at work. Because they aren’t continually improving themselves, they are the same person doing things the same way they’ve always done them.
When they aren’t growing personally and professionally, they are not expanding their capabilities–or their results. Here is how to talk to your sales force about the importance of their professional and personal growth.
The Growth Imperative
One of the ways we think about growth is that our company’s growth and our top and bottom lines are tied directly to the growth of each one of us. As we grow personally and professionally, we expand our skills, our capabilities, and our competencies. As we acquire these things, we are given new choices about how we approach our work. This growth provides new options and new results, largely because the person making the decision is a different person.
Our chosen profession, one that has been good to us, requires more of us than many other roles. Our clients and prospects buy from us for different reasons, some of them business-related and others being the character traits that cause people to want to work with an individual. Other roles in the business require good people, but our clients aren’t choosing to buy from them individually, something that is true for salespeople. We must continue to grow personally and professionally because it is essential to our role.
One of the reasons people burn out is because they grind for too long without spending time working on themselves, doing the same thing repeatedly. Your personal and professional growth requires you to stretch yourself, see things with new eyes, and approach things differently.
The Changing World of Sales
Like everything else, our world has changed over the last decade. Much of what would have been good practices then are no longer useful to us now. They aren’t nearly as effective as some of the newer approaches and strategies. One of the most challenging demands of personal and professional growth is giving up doing something that you have always done or something that you have avoided doing. Unless we change, our results won’t change.
Most of our competitors don’t think this way. A few of you have worked for a company that prioritizes training and development. For some reason, in commercial enterprises, there is a belief that once someone knows how to do their job, they no longer need training and development. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in sales.
We are confronted by a world where clients perceive everything as a commodity, including the salesperson sitting across the table from them. Our personal and professional growth allows us to differentiate and distinguish ourselves in a crowded market.
Buyers now have access to more information, and they are confused, sometimes to the point that they are paralyzed. We have to work on developing our knowledge in a way that allows us to help them make sense of their world, their results, and their decisions, including advanced strategies for engaging in these conversations.
We also have to be able to provide our advice about how they go about exploring change and their process for deciding what to do and who with, an area where most salespeople have had no training or development. Because the sales conversation is nonlinear and leaders strive for consensus, serving our clients means helping them do all the things they need to do, especially when they are unaware.
Character and Integrity
It’s unpopular to remind salespeople that the first decision a prospective client makes is a decision about the salesperson sitting in front of them. The critical factor in a deal is who shows up across the table from the client. You need the discipline to prepare for every sales conversation. You also need to be positive, focused, and engaged.
There is nothing more important than your integrity, something you demonstrate by doing what you say, you are going to do, and when you say you will do it. It also means being candid and transparent, even when it means you will disappoint your prospective client or make them unhappy. All is lost when your integrity is gone.
Our competency model gives you strong direction on all the character traits, attributes, and skills you need to succeed in B2B sales today, all of which, when mastered, improve the likelihood that your clients will perceive you as a trusted advisor.
I know that other sales organizations aren’t focused on personal and professional development. Part of me is sad for the salespeople who work for these companies, but the competitor in me hopes they never worry about the growth that precedes sales growth.
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Filed under: Leadership