A little bit of AC/DC never went astray especially in the world of rock and roll selling.
Truth is, this epic Australian song ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)’ has had many different linguistic versions. Mine, shown above, and this most infamous, and remembered one, showcasing our true Australian culture,
‘It’s a long way to the shop if you wanna sausage roll’
Musical references aside, let’s fast forward into your world.
As someone who sells (whether you are a business owner, leader or salesperson), how do you get to not only reach the top of your charts, but also stay there as a trusted and valued resource for those you serve?
That’s the question that causes so many people the most angst and yet the answer is almost always right in front of them.
When we talk about success or ‘getting to the top’ what does that mean?
Because for you it will be one thing and for someone else another. And because people tend to compare themselves to others they lose sight of this very important fact and use their preconceived perception of someone else’s success as their metric.
I vividly remember my son wanting to play for Hawthorn, to play in a winning grand final and wanting to play on the MCG. He did. He played for the Woodend Hawks one season, won a nail biting grand final for the Kyneton North’s in another and umpired Little League on the MCG. Not the big league, yet still huge achievements.
I also remember my daughter saying when she grew up she wanted to be a manager, work in the city and wear a suit to work. She did. She became a Sargeant in the Royal Australian Air Force and led the troops through the Melbourne CBD on Anzac Day in a suit not many get the privilege to wear.
Not the typical corporate high-flier by any stretch, yet still huge achievements.
So what does ‘reaching the top’ mean to you?
And what are you doing to get there?
You might read this and think to yourself :
- I want to apply for a promotion to senior management or
- I want to be the leading salesperson in my team/company or
- I want to be able to speak more confidently in front of people or
- I want to be able to run my own business and leave my job
When people set their lofty ‘reach the top’ outcomes, I ask ‘what can you see that might prevent this happening?’, and many say things like:
- ‘I don’t want to declare it because it sounds too big!’ or
- ‘People will think ‘who does she think she is’’ or
- ‘I can hear my mates now, ‘Maaaate, you couldn’t manage yourself out of a wet paper bag!’ or
- ‘Not sure I’m ready yet because I don’t have enough runs on the board’
And we’ve all been there. I know I have on more than one occasion and I’ve shared a story below. For those that want a logical explanation, it’s commonly called ‘The Imposter Syndrome’.
Four years ago, after a fairly life defining moment, I declared that I wanted to be Australia’s Leading Female Sales Expert (but only to myself).
“Now what on earth does that mean?
Compared to who?
Who would that mean I would be perceived as saying I was better than?
Who did I think I was?
What would people say if I said that out loud.
Seriously, how egotistical – and the classic, you can’t do that because you’re not the best salesperson”
Nina Proudman, eat your heart out!
So I typed it and put down the reasons why that lofty, nonsensical, out there goal was important to me.
And it was important for so many reasons:
It allowed me to tap into my strengths around B2B selling as well as what I love -psychology, it connected me with people who were like me, it made me money, it helped other people, it pushed me to learn and grow, it allowed me to dream around what I could do and who I could meet and it taught me that what you truly want you can achieve. (Alas, I have buckled and used such a predictable cliche!) More than anything, it gave me purpose at a time I had so much uncertainty.
Out of all of this, though, it helped me crystalise my message around the concept of ‘conscious selling’ – something I truly believe the B2B sales world needs in order to create cut through as well as help shift the perception people have of our profession.
Was I saying I was better than anyone? No. Was I backing myself to be a leader in my field? Yes.
So it took five years after writing those words , that I reached a milestone on my journey, acknowledged a measurement of the work that I have put my heart and soul into and achieved a metric of my success.
I am proud to say that I did stand on the stage in the UK , representing my country as the only female sales expert at Europe’s largest sales innovation expo and presented my message on Conscious Selling. My belief is that it has tremendous commercial, social and economic value. I also shared the stage with sales experts I have respected for years and proudly acknowledge the moniker of, ‘APAC’s Leading Female Sales Expert’.
This is not about ego.”
It is about holding firm something that means something to you. It is about going out there and putting your head above the parapet and doing things you feel might not work or might embarrass you or have people think ‘who does she think she is’. It is about helping others. It is about growth and respect and intention. And it’s also about imagination and declaring your dreams.
It is not about being THE leader, it is about being A leader.
So, that being said – back to you. Here are a couple of quick ideas that I want to share that might help YOU ‘reach the top’ in a shorter period of time than you might otherwise take:
- Gain clarity on what you DO ACTUALLY want. Many people know what they don’t want but until you voice what you do want you will never ‘reach your top’.
- Be brave enough to actually declare it – Declare it to management, your peers, your family.
- Step up and own YOUR part in this declaration. When this happens you don’t tend to make excuses or blame as much as others who talk about what they don’t want. We all have to take responsibility for what does happen as well as what doesn’t happen.
- Get clear on what might hold you back and get honest with yourself – if you say ‘I’m not really committed’ then congratulations, you’ve just saved a stack of time.
- Act as if you already are that person. Act like a senior manager would and be how they would be. Act like someone who is a high achiever and do what they would do. Act like someone who has confidence speaking and feel good about it. Act like someone who runs their own business even if it is in an employee role and notice what happens.
It IS a long way to the top for anyone who is serious. If you are, then be prepared to play the long game. Whatever you do, whether it is pioneering rock and roll or evangelising selling with soul, these great Australian lyrics from a band who made it to their top, might just help,
…Lady do the hard sell Know the reason why…
Over to you now….
Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant
Bernadette McClelland is CEO of 3 Red Folders – a modern day saleswoman and keynote speaker on business growth, personal leadership and sales performance.
BIO: Business environments wanting to increase their revenue and profits, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market, ask for Bernadette McClelland because of her thought leadership on sales performance, her ideas on thinking beyond resilience and her fresh perspectives surrounding personal leadership skills — all designed to master the outcomes that matter.
Bernadette has proudly coached Harvard MBA students on their sales enablement curriculum, been the Master Asia Pacific coach for Anthony Robbins across twelve countries, authored five books on leadership and sales transformation, won a coveted Telstra award for Business Excellence, and continually shares her ideas around behaviour, the brain and business growth on stages in the UK, Europe, Thailand, India, NZ, Australia and North America.
Believing that sales performance is a leadership issue, you will also find her heading Melbourne’s human potential based sales performance consultancy, 3 Red Folders, as she navigates lead generation, message to market and digs deep into sales process activities with her clients in the mid-tier sector as well as founding ‘Women Who Sell’, an initiative designed to bring more women up to speed in their sales success.
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