"I'm currently in sales, but I'm not a sales person."
At a sales conference last week, that's how a young, professional woman introduced herself to me. When I asked for clarification, she told me she was too honest, too loyal and "too much about people" to every really be a seller.
When I told her she was the perfect fit for the job, she was offended. Her negative perception of sellers, fueled by snake oil stereotypes, made it nearly impossible to see herself with that identity... despite the fact that she'd been selling, successfully, for nearly three years and was attending a sales conference.
I see a lot of this denial and distancing. Some sellers don't feel good about selling.
If you struggle with the skepticism, perceptions and reactions of others when you say you're in sales, perhaps you've experienced this, too. What you need is a Personal Sales Philosophy (PSP).
A PSP is a simple and abiding set of beliefs about how you sell. With it, you'll solidify your core values and determine which actions best represent those values. You'll have congruence that will make you proud of who you are and what you do.
What's the point of having a sales philosophy?
There are three major benefits that come from the process of developing your PSP.
You will feel ennobled: There's plenty of talk about sales enablement and not nearly enough focus on sales ennoblement. With a PSP and the thought work that goes into it, you can feel proud of the work you do and the way you do it. You won't feel like you're separating from yourself when you step into your sales day.
Your PSP will include how you interact with buyers and how you want them to remember you. Your actions with buyers will cause them to feel differently about you than they do about other sellers. They will sense your sincerity and depth. As they respond to you respectfully and gratefully, your sense of ennoblement will grow.
You will become more effective: From a wellspring of confidence, you will make better choices and conduct yourself in ways that cause others to believe in you. With this confidence:
- You will speak with passion, purpose and conviction. That's contagious.
- You will be more consistent in displaying your values and speaking up for what you believe in. That's compelling.
- You will represent yourself and your products with pride. That's convincing.
You will make more sales: You'll get more meetings, develop more rapport, earn more trust, conduct yourself more professionally and impress more buyers. People respond to people who are confident and purposeful. They will choose to buy from you. Your effectiveness will translate into higher sales volume.
Where does a sales philosophy come from?
Think about those people you know who have a quiet inner confidence. They're unflappable. They carry themselves with dignity and self-assuredness. That comes from a solid core of knowing who they are, what matters most to them, and how to live in accord with those core values and beliefs.
This doesn't happen by chance. It happens through deliberate thought and conscious effort. It takes awareness, vulnerability and humility to go through a process like this. It's introspective work that requires you to be candid with yourself, mindful of your actions and how they impact others, and willing to make commitments to change.
It may take months to work through this process of identifying your values and what matters most to you, auditing your actions to see how they align (or don't) with your values, deciding which values to fully commit to, and making behavioral choices to activate those values in consistent, clear and outward ways.
Your PSP comes from you and your desire to be the best you possible. When you're ready to get started:
1. Check out the stories that shaped this salesperson's philosophies. They will help you think about the kinds of lessons you've learned along the way and why you believe what you believe.
2. You can use a process to create your Personal Sales Philosophy. It will replicate an established process many senior leaders use. Check out this web page for steps, samples and more about developing a leadership philosophy.
3. Start paying attention to what you believe is right, what you say, and what you do. Notice when there are discrepancies. Ask yourself why you've compromised or what hidden or secondary value may have overridden the one you intended to show. This sorting out process make take some time, so stick with it!
How will I use a sales philosophy in day-to-day selling work?
In our groundbreaking research with buyers, we discovered that buyers would prefer for their sellers to act more like leaders. The most effective leaders have a core system of beliefs, a leadership philosophy. It gives people confidence in following the leader. Having your own PSP will work in a similar way for you. It will guide your decisions, make you more consistent and more credible (hence more trustworthy), and give buyers confidence in you.
It's not that you'll occasionally pull out your PSP and do something specific with it. Rather, it will be in the background operating at all times. It will be like your computer's anti-virus software, filtering for you and directing you away from dangerous paths.
Your PSP serves as an internal compass, guiding your decisions and keeping you on course. In your day-to-day routines, it will help you keep your priorities straight. It will red flag you when you're tempted to deviate from your own values. You'll feel ennobled and fortified when you stick to what matters most to you. Others will be inspired by your conviction.
In the day-to-day, this matters. It will give you strength and courage no matter how difficult the challenges you encounter.
Next Steps to Develop your PSP and Join the Stop Selling & Start Leading® Movement:
- Participate in our seller-side research. Tell us your Personal Best story and be entered into a prize drawing. We might feature your story in future publications.
- Learn more about our research with buyers and the Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement.
- Read the book that shows you how to build trust and engage buyers so you can create this kind of experience. (Named one of "The 20 Most Highly-Reviewed Sales Books of All Time" by HubSpot!)
The award-winning CONNECT2Sell Blog is for professional sellers who believe, as we do, that Every Sale Starts with a Connection. Our 2017 emphasis will be on reporting buyer-side research and how sellers can connect with buyers and sell more effectively by adopting the behaviors of leaders. The Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement is all about the future state of sales and your success as a Sales Professional.
Deb Calvert is President of People First Productivity Solutions, a UC Berkeley instructor, and a former Sales/Training Director of a Fortune 500 media company. She speaks and writes about the Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement and offers sales training, coaching and consulting as well as leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach by the ICF and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Deb has worked in every sector and in 14 countries to build leadership capacity, team effectiveness and sales productivity with a “people first” approach. Her bestselling book “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” has been named by HubSpot as one of "The 20 Most Highly-Rated Sales Books of All Time."