Book publishers, Wiley Australia, told me not to put the word ‘sales’ in the title of my latest book….‘covers with the word sales don’t sell well in Australia‘.
The speaker bureau said not to promote the word ‘sales’ in my keynote… ‘no one will be interested if you mention sales‘.
The group responsible for the International Women In Sales program told me they were having difficulty in gathering interest in Australia because they said… ‘the Australian culture doesn’t seem to support sales‘
Could it be that research, data and evidence suggests that ‘the profession of ‘selling’ is used as an insult or to designate a show off (Butler 1996).’ Or as Dubinsky (1981) notes, most customers consider salespeople as lowly paid, monotonous, uneducated, high pressure, phony individuals who they would never want to meet again. Well, just because it is in black and white does that mean it needs to stay true?
Americans thrive on the sales culture with conferences, think tanks, forums and the like. Even the UK and Europe have their own culture of extracurricular sales environments. (I am delighted to say I have been asked to return to London and share my message around Conscious Selling once more). I even took my 3 day Sales Mastery Event to Delhi, India in partnership with an Indian colleague and it was attended by some pretty heavy hitting corporate leaders – all hungry for more ideas around sales.
And when I first hung out my shingle, my mentor at the time asked me, ‘Why Sales?’
I explained my journey, my purpose, what my outcome was, where my strengths lay, what was important for others to learn and more importantly what I knew firsthand about the answers people wanted, having been on the front line and also having coached sales leaders and business owners across 12 countries at a very real, strategic, tactical and even vulnerable level.
She said to me,
‘Bernadette you can’t just do sales, you are so much more than sales!!‘
So my question is, ‘what’s going to shift that perception around the profession of selling?‘, especially here in Australia.
We know that selling has had a bad rap over the years based on the old snake oil guy followed by the desperation the industrial age brought us with an oversupply of product and the aggressive approach to win the business and move that product. Now we are so much more the wiser though, and we realise we have moved into a new economy, a new world, with an unprecedented level of connection.
‘The fact remains more than ever. We have to be so much more than sales!!‘
So what are you more than then?
Adapting the model from Joe Pulizzi, author of Content Inc, along with conversations from other trusted advisors, I asked myself the same question… to help me get above the noise and crowdedness of the ‘sales’ environment and help me clarify how I could make my difference and own my space.
You can try it too…
Consider how you can use the following model to help you show up as being someone who is more than sales and someone who can make a real, commercial and social difference…
‘Here’s how I did it:‘
Start with your strength:
What do you shine at in your environment? Sales? Management? Financials?
My strength as a consultant is in B2B Sales (20 years in corporate, seven years as an owner of an SME and five years as a consultant in my own practice). But that’s the same as millions of other consultants, I might add.
Different from others? No.
OK – time to add in what my market wants to dig down into and that which I am most passionate about:
My passion is around human behaviour driven by my love of psychology (A Diploma and qualifications in all things coaching, and being Anthony Robbins coach working with sales leaders, business owners and salespeople in the APAC region certainly helped).
What about you? What are you passionate about in your environment that could provide value to your clients? Is it mentorship? Is it technology? Is it customer service?
These two combined have given me my sweet spot and my competitive field is narrowing slightly. But only slightly.
And that is when most people stop. They stop at the sweet spot. They stop differentiating, stop digging, stop thinking harder and believe this is their unique point of difference.
Companies do it, too… We are great at technology and our passion is CRM and they leave it at that. (Companies could substitute passion with problems they solve). Apple could have stuck with the technology and innovation sweet spot and ended up a different version of Microsoft.
We need to go one step further if we really want to make a difference, stand for something and create change in our space. And to do that it’s about finding, what I have coined, your anchoring essence. A place that allows you to be truly unique in your most purposeful and profitable way.
That place when you know what you do is different, is impacting someone else and their role, their business or their life.
Pulizzi calls this your ‘tilt’. Trevor Young from PR Warrior refers to it as the conversations you want to lead. For me personally, that tilt, those conversations that need to be led, that anchoring essence – is ‘Authenticity’ – shifting the way you think about yourself, your ego, your identity, your personal brand, your approach, your conversations and your presence so that you can become more purposeful and profitable in your role as a salesperson and as a business.
Apple added ‘thinking different’ as their tilt which allowed them to do exactly that, push boundaries and change lives.
My ’tilt’ shifts the B2B sales conversation. ‘Business men and women who sell’ become more alive, more aware and even more aligned in the way they represent themselves, the commercial relevance they have and the overall results they achieve. Everything I write, speak and teach includes these key themes.
My question to you is – what is your anchoring essence?
You could lead an industry group around efficiencies, be the go to person for a particular sector of technology, be an authority on a certain product within your company. It could be that you shine within a mentoring role, master a methodology or own great storytelling skills.
- What will make the shingle you hang out be different?
- What will be your anchoring essence?
- What difference will you sell?
I am so much more than sales and so are you, don’t you think?
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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