Desperately Seeking Sales

One of the great lines our founder Bob Burg shares with his audiences is “Nobody is going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet.” I love that line and it’s so true. At the beginning of his international best seller The Go-Giver, which Bob co-wrote with John David Mann, we meet the main character Joe, who is described as a frustrated go-getter.

Many people in sales relate to Joe. He is an ambitious, aggressive, and up and coming, young professional, but he feels like the harder he works the further his goals seem to be. He’s frustrated all right and the cause of his frustration is looking right back at him in the mirror. You see at the beginning of the story Joe has one thing on his mind, himself!

And isn't that all too often the case. As sales professionals we see the world through the filter of the quota or target we need to ‘crush’. Everything we do is designed to whittle away at that number. Our bonuses or commissions flow from our ability to ‘sell’ more and more. Not to mention the recognition and status that comes with being the top ‘rainmaker’. Me. Me. Me.

As sales leaders we measure and manage progress toward that number and we apply the necessary amount of carrot and stick along the way. If your team or division is ‘on target’ life is good, if not well you know the answer. Everything in the sales universe is so geared around making more sales and hitting bigger and bigger numbers so it’s easy figure out why these mindsets exist. The system and the cultures it breeds effectively cultivates them.

The problem is we’re focused on the wrong things. But like Joe at the beginning ofThe Go-Giver story, we get so caught up in our needs, wants and desires we lose sight of what we’re really supposed to be doing – helping our customers. Instead we’re only helping ourselves. And only in the very short-term!

The seemingly never ending supply of shocking financial advice stories filing our newspapers over recent months provide a stark warning about what can happen when we think and behave like money hungry quota crushers. I refuse to believe that the only way CBA, Macquarie Bank and now NAB Financial Advisers could succeed was by behaving in ways that were contrary to the interests of their customers. The unpalatable reality is that at some point they made a choice to do the wrong thing because it suited them, or could it be even worse than a personal choice issue? What if the organisational culture was so ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ like that these behaviours weren't simply ignored or tolerated they were encouraged! Now that’s a scary thought!

I said earlier in this post that we were focused on the wrong things. Sales, profits and revenues can hide a multitude of sins, as we've learned from the banks mentioned above. Our clients or customers on the other hand have little interest in these metrics, they are interested in the value they receive from the products, services or solutions they buy from us. So why aren't we collectively focused like a laser on value as the key metric by which we measure individual, team, organisational and most importantly client/customer success?

It seems to me that we and our clients share a mutual objective and that is the pursuit and creation of more and more value. In reality we want to self-same thing. So why isn't it happening? 

I’m going to end where I started, with Bob’s quote but this time I’m going to give you the complete quote:

“Nobody is going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet. They will only buy because they come to realise there is more value in them buying than not.”

You nailed it Bob. You nailed it.

Ian J Lowe is the CEO of Go-Givers Australia, 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. 

Image Credit: Desperately Seeking Susan movie. Orion Pictures 1985