Posts Tagged ‘serving’

Becoming Intentional in Your Selling

March 26, 2009

There is a characteristic of top performers in selling and serving others. I recently learned a term that describes it – “intentionality.” This characteristic is often missing from selling efforts.

A few months ago I was invited to be a panelist in a discussion on leadership. Our speaker at this session was Betty L. Siegel, Ph.D., the recently retired president of Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA. Among the topics she discussed was the concept of intentionality, which is a cornerstone principle in her book, Becoming an Invitational Leader, co-authored with William W.
Purkey, Ed.D.

Listening to Dr. Siegel that day, and hearing my fellow panelists respond to questions from the audience, caused me to begin to think about the whole concept of being “intentional” about life and work. What is this whole idea of living or working “intentionally?” As Dr. Siegel pointed out that day, intentionality is not the same as intentions. “It is our ability to have intentions in the first place.”

There is an underlying factor in becoming intentional – that is ultimate purpose or chief aim. Hundreds of books stress the absolute necessity of an individual as well as an enterprise having a clearly defined, written and effectively communicated purpose or aim. Intentionality is what brings that aim or purpose into reality, and engages others in action with the future in mind. It is my opinion that many businesses suffer from a lack of intentionality. Their leaders are not clearly moving the enterprise toward its purpose.

As I reflected on this idea of intentionality, it seemed that there were some significant peaks and valleys along my own life journey. Thinking about these fluctuations, I had a BLIGOI (a Blinding Glimpse of Insight!) When my chief aim was meaningful for me, the factor that caused the peaks was BELIEF! I had a passionate belief in my product or service and believed in the value that I brought to my clientele. Where there were valleys, the belief was weak.

As I think about this now, there is a process that underlies all this:

Chief Aim > Belief in Product or Service > Intenionality in the Marketplace = The Sale

During the period of my greatest success, my chief aim was strong and meaningful for me, I held a strong belief that my products were superior, even unique, and that belief communicated itself in my attitude of intentionality where ever I went. Success followed. If I doubted, or held a wavering belief, I lost my sense of intentionality, and had a difficult time making sales and achieving my chief aim.

So here is what I have concluded. The rock for success is, of course, a “definite chief aim,” as Napoleon Hill calls it in his classic book Think and Grow Rich. You can call it “life purpose, ““vision, “or “spaghetti,” as long as it gives you a reason for being. So these three factors, Chief Aim, Belief in Product and Intentionality are all related. One follows the other in sequence, yet each stands independently.

Once you know your purpose or chief aim, you will see that there are dozens or hundreds of ways to achieve it. For a sales or service professional there are millions of viable and useful products and services that must be sold to the customer or client base. People will have to work through this on their own perhaps, but I have sold tangible and intangible products and done well in most of them. Whenever I have had difficulty it was because of a low level of belief in the value the particular products to the customer. I could not “sell myself on what I was selling.”

One more thought. Some people have a chief aim that is very lofty and sophisticated. Others may have one that is more basic. It just has to be yours – vital to you. Then sell yourself on what you are selling! If you can’t, in Integrity Selling for the 21st Century, Ron Willingham advises us to, “Have the courage to face the truth,” and make a change. Sometimes the change is in you, not your job, by the way.

Then become Intentional in your marketplace!

By J. Mark Walker

Building a Trusting Workplace #2

February 25, 2009

This is the second of four blogs on Overcoming Commoditization with Your People.  Click here for the original post.

In the context of teaching your people to “out-behave” your competitors, I believe it is important to build an organization in which your people trust each other to do the right things for the customers and the company.  Tthe first key culture factor is clearly communicated values and mission.

The second key culture factor is having the right people on your team, or in your organization.  If you are not starting from scratch, then you have to begin building your team where you are.  This means that when you communicate and reinforce by your own behavior the values and mission of your enterprise, then you must give your people the tools they need to demonstrate that they are the right folks to be on the team.  (Here are some ideas about coaching people.) The Gallup Organization research shows that in most organizations, as much as 15% of employees are “actively disengaged.”  This means that they are sabotaging your efforts to build loyal customers.  These folks need to be given the opportunity to become “actively engaged,” or invited to succeed elsewhere — and quickly.  Our experience shows that a well-designed learning or training process to focus attention on the internal and external customer should enable disengaged employees to reengage within 5 to 7 weeks.  (The key is the way the training process presents the material and positively reinforces the learning.) 

If you are just building your team, or adding to an existing organization, then add people with care.  The old adage, “Haste makes waste,” certainly applies here.  Properly designed assessments can help you choose the best people.  Other than basic abilities to perform the functions of the job, the most important attribute for success in selling and serving are beliefs, attitudes  and skills, in that order.   In addition to looking at the skill sets of people, look for instruments that enable you to evaluate the attitudes and beliefs of your applicants.  One of our assessment tools, for example, help companies design “behavioral interviews” around the success factors for  people in that job.  They way they have behaved in the past is an excellent indicator of how they will behave when working with you.

One more thought:  if you are agonizing over dismissing an employee, who is obviously not the right person for your team, you may need to go ahead and kindly dismiss the person.  My experience is that they will be relieved, the rest of your people will be relieved, and you will be relieved.  At best they are unproductive.  At worst, they are sabotaging your business.

J. Mark Walker