This is a message for sellers who sometimes feel like they have to set their own values and standards aside in order to do the work of selling. What you need is a Sales Philosophy.
What's a Sales Philosophy? Well, let me put it this way: an organization has a sales culture and, similarly, an individual has a Sales Philosophy. It's yours. You get to pick it, and you get to choose to stick with it. When it's fully formed, it will direct your choices in the way you behave, the way you interact with buyers, and even the way you set your priorities. For some, it can influence the company you choose to work for.
Having a philosophy will help you reconcile who you are with your chosen profession of selling. You'll bring a newfound sense of authenticity to the work you do, and you won't ever again have to feel like you're parking yourself at the door in order to sell.
Sales Philosophy Steps
Here are four steps that will help you develop your philosophy:
1. Identify Your Core Values
First, start by identifying your five core values. Don't rush through this. Take your time and really think it through. These are your values in your everyday life. Don't try to select different values for your work life and your home life. They should be the same. They should be consistent. They should be the things that really, truly matter to you.
Your five core values signify what is most important to you and what is non-negotiable. These are values that you won't give up situationally. Your values aren't right or wrong. They're not good or bad. They are not superior or inferior to anybody else's.
Let me give you a personal example: Five values that I prize are empathy, growth, productivity, achievement and integrity. You, uniquely, will have your own set of core values. If they're a true fit for you, they're the right ones for you.
2. Check Yourself
Step two: Now it's time to check yourself. Here again, don't race through this part even if it's a little bit uncomfortable. To check yourself, imagine that I’ve shadowed you at work over the last three or four weeks. You didn't know I was there, but I saw every single thing you did. The question that I'm now going to ask you, having shadowed you for these three or four weeks, is “Did I see your values show up consistently in your actions? Did your actions meet and live up to the standards of your chosen values?”
If not, there are only two choices.
Perhaps these are aspirational instead of actual values. If that's the case, these are your “maybe someday I'd like to be that way” values rather than your “definitely today this is what matters most to me” values. If so, it's time to go back up to step one because you're looking for the values you believe are most important today.
Alternately, if your actions and values aren’t aligned, perhaps they really are the values that matter most to you, but your behavioral choices don’t represent your values. In that case, don't adjust your values to fit your situation. Instead, adjust your behavioral choices to fit your values. Reconcile your actions to your values. Make the choices that will make you proud of the values you’re consistently demonstrating to the rest of the world.
3. Let Your Values Guide You
Step three is to begin using your confirmed values as a guiding light. When you aren't sure which way to go, think about your values. They will help you choose the right direction. You should absolutely apply this in every selling situation, as well as in every other situation in your life.
Your values aren't negotiable. They don't change just because you're at work. They certainly don't change just because you want to make a sale.
4. Write a Sales Philosophy
Step four is to write down your values. You’ll do this in the form of a stated Sales Philosophy. There are two different approaches you can take to codify your values and philosophy of selling.
You may choose to write yours as a declaration. Declarations start with the words “I will.” They are a commitment, a promise to yourself and others about what you are going to do. For example, if I were using my five values (integrity, achievement, empathy, productivity and growth), my declaration would sound something like this: “I will sell with integrity at all times, never intentionally misleading a buyer. I will seek first to genuinely understand buyers and demonstrate empathy to let them know I have their best interests in mind. I will challenge myself to stretch toward new opportunities and to try new things so I can become more efficient and effective every day.”
The second way you can write your philosophy is as a credo statement. Credo means what you believe. Instead of starting with “I will,” you're going to start with “I believe.” Using those same values, here’s an example of a credo statement. “I believe buyers deserve to be treated with respect, told the truth and understood. I believe sellers should seek first to understand and not to be understood. I believe sellers best serve buyers by continually learning and growing. I believe the mutual rewards that come from buying and selling are most gratifying when achievements are shared and not one-sided.”
Your credo statement or declaration will sound unique because it will have your own values and your own philosophy stated clearly. This is mostly for your benefit. You might choose to share it with others, but primarily this is work you do for you. It takes a little time, but it's well worth the effort because you will feel good about the choices you make and the directions you take.
Sell as a Leader
If you'd like, send me a copy of your philosophy. I collect them, oftentimes, from the people I coach. I'd be happy to give it a once over for you, just to check on clarity or to challenge you if there are opportunities for stronger language or if it sounds like you’re not quite sure about something.
When you write your philosophy and fully step into it, you're going to be selling as a leader. You'll be leading yourself. That means guiding yourself to the place you want to be. Buyers respect this, and your values will certainly show in the work that you do.