Anyone can learn how to sell. That is if you think selling is simply about following the steps of a choreographed sales process or mastering the latest selling techniques. But of course it isn't, at least not any more. What worked before doesn’t work any longer. The truth is that selling has evolved and we need to be much more than in the past.
Yesterday’s attitudes, mindsets and cultures are no longer relevant or appropriate. It's an exciting time for renewal. If you can let go, if you can shift your focus and if you can be open. I've written this post to share my own journey from the dark side to the light.
I would like to think that I’ve been on a journey of constant improvement and renewal throughout my sales career, but that wouldn’t be exactly true. Sure I’ve always been fine tuning my trade craft but I had been doing so within a fairly traditional sales mindset that centred on me following the steps of my favoured sales approach so that I could make more sales. It wasn’t until I found myself wandering around Los Angeles International Airport several years ago that I was forced to question everything I thought I knew about sales and why I was selling.
It was so unexpected
Here I was killing time before my flight from the US back home to Australia after attending a sales conference and like you do in airports I found myself browsing the reading material in a news agency, and that’s when I came across a book called Go-Givers Sell More written by Bob Burg and John David Mann.
Now I’ve never been a big reader of fictional stories about Hobbits, Wizards or Vampires but I do enjoy reading business books. Especially those about sales and I’ve read a lot of them. But I had never heard about Go-Givers before and I had no clue why they would be selling more. So of course I bought it.
After a career in sales spanning 25+ years I knew sales. I had sales nailed. I was a sales master. Or at least I thought I was. Little did I know that by buying this unassuming little green book, everything I thought I knew about sales was about to change and I could never have guessed how profoundly this new way of thinking would influence the future direction of my life.
You see I had grown up learning that sales in pretty much the way Bob and John describe it in the book, as a ‘getting’ business. It was all about me getting the clients’ money into my pocket and my products or services into their businesses. And I was successful in the execution of that mission. I deployed my sales skills effectively. I employed the right sales techniques and I religiously followed the steps of the sales processes I had learned in an effort to control the sales cycle so that I could make more sales.
That all changed when I read Go-Givers Sell More, which is a very special book that shares a unique sales philosophy that makes giving the cornerstone of a refreshingly open and authentic approach to sales. Reading it made me question everything I thought I knew about sales. As I turned the pages soaring through the clouds at 30,000 feet my furrowed brow reached an inevitable conclusion. My focus was all wrong, my motivation was all wrong and my mindset and my behaviours were all wrong. That was tough to take. I was a wreck at that point, almost in tears but I couldn’t put that little green book down. The more I tried to squirm and wriggle out of it the more the cold hard truth took hold.
I must have read it cover to cover five times on that flight back to Australia and by the time I landed I felt like a man re-born. To say the famous lyrics of Amazing Grace were ringing in my ears would not be an inaccurate description of the way I felt now I had this glow of enlightened purpose pulsing through my veins.
“I once was blind but now I see.”
Clarity and Purpose
The really cool thing is that in the weeks and months to follow those seeds of clarity and purpose didn’t wither and die, they continued to grow, in fact they flourished. I was both hooked and clean at the same time. I was clean of my addiction to the ‘control paradigm’ that has driven my self-serving sales behaviours in the past and I was hooked on this idea that giving was the most effective and fulfilling path to future success. It was and still is a truly liberating experience.
I have been sharing Go-Giver principles ever since and I still carry my cherished copy of Go-Givers Sell More with me everywhere I go. It’s a little tattered and torn these days but it serves to remind me of who I was, and more importantly that I’m always on a journey to become much better than before, not just in my sales career but in every aspect of my life.
Now that I'm spearheading the Go-Giver movement across Australia I am honoured to have been joined by many clients and partners who share our belief that thinking like a Go-Giver is not only a nicer, more fulfilling and more purposeful way to live life and conduct business, it’s also a very financially profitable way as well. Go-Givers really do sell more.
Ian J Lowe is the Founder & CEO of eccoh, a sales transformation, coaching and consulting organisation offering a unique culture-defining philosophy and framework that makes giving value the cornerstone of a refreshingly open and authentic approach to selling.
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