My friend Kitty Scheperman recently wrote a post entitled ‘7 Habits of Highly Successful Sales Leaders’. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth a visit. As I read Kitty’s article I realised that the habits Kitty was describing went beyond being applicable to sales leaders; they applied not only to sales leaders, but all salespersons, businessmen and women generally; and they applied to life.
The fact that these qualities are applicable across all areas of our lives reaffirms my strong belief that sales has matured significantly over the past decades from that of the cliched slick ‘snake oil’ salesperson to one of collaborative relationships where salespeople look to help identify and deliver sustainable solutions and benefits to their clearly-targeted customers.
With this in mind I reflected on the work of ‘wellbeing guru’, Prof. Martin Seligman (hmmm, is there nominative determination at work here? selig in German means blessed). In his book, Flourish, Prof. Seligman introduces the idea of ‘positive business’ – an idea of going beyond what is taught at MBA schools to be successful. Seligman’s research suggested that if people cared not only about their own happiness, but happiness of others, the well-being of all would be improved – we would ‘flourish’. Isn’t this what modern selling is about? Helping our customers solve business problems or improve performance? Creating true win/win situations where everyone grows? It’s a far cry for selling in the past.
So let’s take a look at how Prof. Seligman’s PERMA model might be applied to selling and business. PERMA is a mnemonic for Positive emotion; Engagement; Relationships; Meaning and Accomplishment.
P – Positive Emotion/Belief: Being in sales or business without positive belief that we can be successful is recipe for failure. We need positive self-belief to be able to overcome the lows that we will no doubt endure from time to time. And maintaining positive emotions will help us to not just feel ‘happier’, but will help us perform better by boosting our mental and physical well-being which in turn motivates us to be creative and to look forward optimistically.
Positive emotions and self-belief have a significant impact on how we perform in business. Those that are successful in their careers understand that how we feel plays a major part in how we perform at work. They take time to engage in activities that help cultivate positive emotions. (photo credit – Flickr: ‘Prospects’ by Leike Anna Haertjens)
E – Engagement: A lack of engagement with any part of our life leads to boredom and stagnation; hardly the right environment for success, happiness and fulfilment. When we believe in what we are doing, enjoy the contacts we make, are absorbed in our work and challenged in a positive way we gain momentum and focus, and are more productive and confident.
Are we engaged in learning about our company, our products or services, our target market, our competition and our prospects and customers? If we do not enjoy learning new things, engaging with people and helping businesses improve, we are unlikely to achieve success in sales; and are most likely in the wrong career.
R – Relationships: There has been a lot comment in recent times regarding relationship selling. In the best-seller, ‘The Challenger Sale’, the referenced research suggested that relationship-based sales people were among the poorest performers. But has been defined as relationship selling amounted, in my view, to being at the ‘beck and call’ of our prospects and customers. This is not what building trusted relationships in sales and business is about. Engaging in a positive way with our prospects and customers, others in our teams and the rest of the world helps build positive relationships and this in turn helps drive positive emotions…and ultimately success. As humans, we are social animals and grow through the development of strong personal and business relationships and networks. Sounds like something that is common to the most successful business people I work with. (photo credit – Flickr: ‘Relationships’ by Doran Sohari)
M – Meaning: The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, professed that success was a by-product of a life lived from the inside out; that to be successful in whatever area of our life we choose, we need to be accepting that what we are doing is in harmony with our own self-beliefs. Studies have shown that people who pursue shared goals and believe their work is consistent with their personal values and beliefs are happier, and as a result more successful than those who are not.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful…Albert Schweitzer
Do we feel what we are doing is genuinely valuable and worthwhile? Are we talking to ourselves and others about the positives and pleasures of helping others achieve success? If we do not believe we are delivering value to our clients we are living a lie and while we may enjoy short-term wins, we are unlikely to achieve long-term success.
A – Accomplishment: The very nature of how salespeople are compensated to achieve success is competitive. We are incentivised to win! Often this ‘win’ is seen as our defining accomplishment. But accomplishment in business goes beyond winning the sales, getting the commission and achieving greater revenue and profits. Accomplishment today, and something our market will also judge us on, includes how we treat our customers and employees, how we treat the environment, what ethical business practises we employ. Importantly, why does our company exist? What accomplishments will we use to define our own success?
The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after your fail…Vince Lombardi
It is important to set ourselves tangible goals that go beyond sales targets, revenue and profits. We need to set goals that are more than just monetary targets and we need to celebrate achieving these goals. As individuals we need to identify the strengths needed to achieve our goals and work on developing these.
The more I learn about what defines success in selling and business, the more I understand why sales has developed over the years. As my friend John Smibert regularly points out in his writings, “selling is about giving” (see his comment in a recent post by my Sales Mastermind colleague, Ian J Lowe, The Collaboration Contradiction in Sales).
Achieving success does not need to be at the expense of another. Sales has matured to the point where to be successful you need to create success for others; you need to create collaborative environments. It is no longer a ‘win at all costs’ game. Enjoying greater success for ourselves and creating it for others will have a positive effect on our overall well-being; and create even greater success.
This article was previously posted on Linked In.