In the imitable words of the Skyhooks song:
“If I did not have an ego I would not be here tonight
If I did not have an ego I might not think that I was right
If you did not have an ego you might not care the way you dressed
If you did not have an ego you’d just be like the rest”
(For those wanting a little Australian culture)
The thing is we all have an ego. It forms our identity. Yet contrary to popular belief, the ego is not a bad thing. The actual meaning of ego is ‘a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance’ so it can be quite a good thing depending how you choose to let it show up.
Our ego, created long before we were even born, was designed to protect us as we entered a world totally foreign to us and at a time we were at our most helpless and vulnerable. It was designed to protect us, making sure our crying voices were heard, our demands were met and we got exactly what we needed when we wanted it – sleep, drink, food, comfort and love, even at the expense of the sanity of everyone around us. The focus was only about us.
In the Neanderthal days when our caveman brothers and sisters had to fight the woolly mammoth, it was their ego that determined whether they stayed and fought or ran away to safety (flight and fight). Survival was definitely at the forefront of their thoughts and without the strength and execution of their ego they most certainly would have perished.
But as we develop and grow up and our world includes more than just ourselves, our need for survival changes and lessens.
And as our world evolves and innovates around us and we no longer have woolly mammoths to fight or flee, we adapt and so the ego can be less defensive, rest a little and adapt as well.
Yet, whilst we are more than capable of surviving very easily today with the comforts, the communities and the opportunities we have available to us at the click of our fingers in many cases, the ego of yesteryear remains a driving force in many people’s identity with the continuing need to protect and shield themselves from ‘something’.
Many people, in the business world, are still driven by this need to guard themselves at any cost, to take what they can to protect themselves, to come from what they can get rather than share, collaborate or give, based on an innate feeling of fear, or a feeling of ‘not being enough’, and it manifests and shows up in so many ways many of us have experienced and witnessed:
* Doing shifty deals instead of doing what is right for everyone
* Taking credit for other people’s work instead of making them the hero
* Denigrating people publicly under the guise of humour instead of supporting them
* Positioning yourself as superior to someone else instead of accepting them as they are
* Making it all about you all the time instead of listening and being curious
* Not celebrating or acknowledging others success instead of showing vulnerability
* Thinking of what you can get out of a situation rather than contribute
When we put ‘the old ego’ into context with best practice in the selling environment today, clearly there is a new approach needed.
In the 50’s best practice involved the ABC Model – Always be Closing and was so very transactional based, where the ‘egotistical salesperson’ reputation flourished. Me, Me, Me!
The 70’s transitioned us to a more professional sales approach with the the introduction of ego driven salespeople having empathy entering the equation.
And today buyers and employers are looking for salespeople with the dial turned down a little on the ego while the empathy dial is turned up a little. We can move on from the womb and the woolly mammoth and shift the role of the ego to be a Me, Us, We!
The salesperson who is ahead of the game today is a leader – one who focuses on growth and contribution, who lives by the GIVE Model and achieves the results that matter the most by BEING a certain type of person rather than by DOING certain things. Sound a bit fluffy? then consider this –
The GIVE MODEL of sales leadership – Based on Growth and Contribution, Innovation, Value and Economics, is a benchmark for best practice sales leadership and focuses on these four drivers:
Growth (through People)
* As in nature, whatever is not growing is dying and the same can be said for individuals, departments, teams and businesses. It is important to continue to feed not just our pockets, but our minds and our spirits and continue to evolve ourselves and our businesses.
* Secondly, to contribute is the art of fulfillment and once we grow, it is important to be able to contribute what we know and serve, beyond ourselves. Businesses with a culture of contribution to society are increasing and their people are so much more aligned, settled and create a unique value proposition for their teams and their clients, contributing to the wider society.
Innovation (through Performance) is all about each of us knowing who we are, what we stand for, what our values are, on an individual and collective basis. Recognizing strengths with which to build upon and allowing others to model us as well as identifying and accepting feedback on our weaknesses so that we can strive to improve. The nurtured ego owns both!
With traditional trainings over time, most salespeople think the focus is on doing more – more prospecting, more closing, harder skills training, more meetings. Whilst this is important and Nike has made a killing out of the slogan ‘Just Do It’, the identity of the salesperson needs to also be developed and innovated. They need to start becoming a better version of themselves, and that is by learning to ‘Just Be It’! Just like our physical fitness, some muscles need to be built up, some parts of our identity also need to be expanded and strengthened, whilst other parts of our identity and ego, may also need to be shrunk or even retired!
Value (through Pipeline) is a huge part of a salespersons role and even though the word is now a cliche – the value that clients expect today is for a salesperson to understand and appreciate their view of the world. They are after education on how they can perform their role better, how their businesses can run more profitably, how they can achieve their KPI’s and how they can not take their stresses home.
The salesperson needs to be able to tap into not just the presenting problem, but also the silent problem, and those salespeople in the top 10% know how to tap into the problem behind the problem of the client, providing so much more value. Being able to do this from a space of service means understanding your own personal value system first, dropping preconceived ideas and being willing to be present.
Economics (through Profits) is the fourth component of the GIVE Model and this incorporates making money. It also includes committing to product knowledge, competitive knowledge, the pricing, supply and demand of the market, the ratios the business cycle, the pipeline, customer loyalty, CRM’s, the revenue! It is important that this is understood so that it is a win/win for the seller and the buyer. Discounting to win the deal will only eat into the potential for your business to grow; it will determine whether or not you can continue to help others.
All of these 4 factors result in increased revenues and profits and provide a give and take approach, a combination of healthy ego and empathy and contributes toward productive teams, delighted clients becoming raving fans, management who sleep well and shareholders who walk around with a smile on their face.
In the commercial world, our buyers have woken up and some egos are yet to grow up!
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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