Our ultimate outcome is to make change happen. Not just to move product and make our numbers, but something bigger.
Henry Ford said it the best – ‘A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business’. And we have seen the giants that have created the massive profits, fall. And we have seen their greed cause the financial world to collapse and a huge part of the collateral damage were families, everyday people just like us.
At the London launch of Richard Branson’s book’s ‘Screw Business As Usual’ he said, ‘I truly believe that capitalism was created to help people live better lives, but sadly over the years it has lost its way a bit. The short-term focus on profit has driven most businesses to forget about the important long-term role they have in taking care of people and the planet.’
Business today has a responsibility to do business responsibly. To be consciously capitalistic.
“Today, you are a rooster! Tomorrow you’ll all be feather dusters unless you make your numbers!! So stop your BS and get out there and bury the competition!!”
Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on the set of Glengarry Glen Ross decades ago, but these words unfortunately came from the boardroom of a fine Australian corporation last week – straight from the mouth of the General Manager, himself. So old world! So bullying and so completely self focussed! And while these leaders abound, the sales culture will never shift.
Contrast that with one of my clients, ‘Northwest Pest Control Company’ in Atlanta, Georgia. They have positioned themselves as the leading company in their industry – and it is not hard to see why. Rather than keep all their success secrets to themselves, they have invited the state’s smaller pest control companies to their offices so they can share with them the success principles that have led to them becoming the experts in their field. Why? Because their bigger message is that they create healthier living and working environments for homes and businesses. They don’t just sell pest and termite needs. Their outcome is to contribute. At every given moment these salespeople are reminded of the values written on the walls to the point where they don’t need reminding. They live them.
Whose salespeople will care more?
Whose salespeople will be more proud, passionate and paid up? Whose salespeople will add more value to their current clients and have stories to tell their prospective clients? Whose salespeople will sell more?
Business as usual won’t cut it. Especially in the world of selling where the majority of leaders’ mantras still includes – ‘Get the deal at any cost’, ‘Discount the deal before month end’, ‘Cut the margin and give them something to get them to sign NOW’. And let’s not forget the steak knives either.
For business to step up a level, there needs to be a shift in intention with both the leaders and the individual salespeople for EVERYONE to benefit on ALL levels. In the book ‘Conscious Capitalism – Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business’, the authors John Mackay and Raj Sisodia, espouse 4 tenets of conscious capitalism:
* Higher Purpose
* Conscious Leadership
* Stakeholder Integration
* Conscious Culture and Management
I think they are missing a standalone tenet
* Conscious Selling
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you just ‘doing a deal’ and going through the motions dialling for dollars, instructing people on your product and then expecting the order?
2. Are you at a point where you have built caring relationships, where you will go a little bit above and beyond influencing people on what your offering can do for their business and keeping the relationship alive?
3. Or are you inspiring your customer by pre-empting their questions of what’s next, what’s new and what’s different in a way that will transform the partnership and allow you to be there to serve them and help them with their profit building intentions?
What’s it all about?
Selling today is not only about making money as it always has been. It is about making money with meaning and that means getting clear on what is really important to the buyer, and the buyers business at a personal and professional level.
Businesses that are focused on more than just the money are the businesses that are creating immense loyalty with their stakeholders first, and shareholders second. They are the ones surviving through the tough times and holding their margin. They are the ones whose customers will stick with them and who acknowledge the value they provide. These businesses are driven by their own personal values of what is important and not driven by just the sale. The rise of Conscious Capitalism, GameChanger 500 businesses and B Corporations is testament to this.
Conscious Capitalism has a foundation based on the premise that corporations, organisations and businesses work for the financial benefit of all of us as well as the social benefit to all of us. The industrial revolution was all about capitalism and creating growth in the world. Unfortunately, the cheap labour abounded, lives were damaged and the planet began to be polluted and suffer. But to the minority, all that mattered were profits. The economic environment of recent times has shown us how the financial greed of Wall Street lined the pockets of the modern day powerbrokers. This negated the social responsibility of capitalism, creating a massive and disastrous ripple effect across the globe, epitomised in recent headlining blockbuster movies glamorising greed, narcissism and providing a quick sales lesson on how to sell pens.
Values Driven and Triple Bottom Line
So what does this have to do with the new sales environment and changing sales landscape?
After all, a company has a responsibility to make a profit through its sales force, doesn’t it?
And yes, the answer is that capitalism does have its place. But it’s about being more conscious – having a responsibility to make more than profits – to look at the triple bottom line – profits, people and the planet and this is a shift many leaders are not sure about – on both a personal and professional level. And it’s possible they are unsure about it is because to champion it, means standing for something, putting your head above the parapet and getting in touch with your personal values.
And personal values, for many sales leaders are unknown or they won’t allow personal and professional lines to be blurred by being too vulnerable, authentic and human. But buyers today, people today, want real.
I mentioned my client Northwest Pest Control in Atlanta, Georgia earlier and how I presented to a room of their sales people. What really moved me was the way the morning started. The VP of Sales, Jeff Dunne, introduced the sales meeting in the usual business like way and then asked one of the guys to lead the group with a prayer. Now when I say prayer, I don’t mean sit down, stand up, and pick a bale of cotton prayer that many of us may have grown up with in a typically church environment, but it was more a positive intention.
And as I am sitting at the back of the room waiting to be introduced I was thinking, this would not happen in any sales team I have been a part of – ever! But the weird thing was, from a speaker’s perception, I felt in a really safe environment – there was no fear or apprehension.
Balancing the Feminine and Masculine
So imagine creating a culture where it was all about serving others – a bigger intention, a purpose, the ability for a bunch of guys and girls to feel it’s OK to be themselves, to be comfortable enough in their own skin to be the same at work as they are at home – where their personal values and their professional values were perfectly aligned . Well I figure if a team that was 100% male could adopt that approach then that was pretty cool – what energy would be emanating from that business environment on that particular day?
What kind of an impact would that have on each individual? Would it show up different parts of people, would others feel safer and more cohesive as a group, or would the leader shy away from it…? Because it was too real, too people based, too close to being their real selves. I wonder!
So I am going to suggest businesses adopt more of what’s typically referred to as ‘soft skills’, to uncover what is really preventing people from achieving commercial results by tapping into their true abilities and strengths, to drop the alpha male traits, the language that supports hardball hunters and competitiveness that dominates relationships and become more human, balancing the feminine traits of connection and collaboration and developing relationships that are long term, real and sustainable.
It doesn’t mean we need to sit cross- legged in tie-dyed hippy pants singing kumbaya, far from it, but it does mean acknowledging and encouraging the potential of people. As Herb Kelleher, former Southwest Airlines CEO used to say, “we can change skill levels through training, but we can’t change attitude.” You have to be the real deal.
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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