Six years ago, a major biotech firm conducted a six-month double-blind study of its sales force. The goal was to determine what behaviors separated the top salespeople from the average ones. The study revealed something no one expected: The top performers all had a far more pronounced sense of purpose than their more average counterparts. The salespeople who sold with noble purpose, who truly want to make a difference to customers, consistently outsold the salespeople who focused on sales goals and money.
When firms see their sole purpose as making a profit, they tend to view their customers as objects. “Customers are no longer human beings,” says Lisa Earle McLeod, author of “Selling with noble purpose”. “They are anonymous targets and prospects whose sole purpose is to help the company make money. That kind of language creates a culture that says, we don’t exist to do something for our customers; customers exist to do something for us.
Examples of noble sales purposes
The book gives a number of examples of transitions to noble purposes.
For example, Meridian Systems used to focus on “becoming the number one provider of project management software in the world.” Meridian’s manager saw that the staff needed to reclaim their passion. Working with their senior leaders they came up with “We help people build a better world. Their NSP behaviors are: We connect. We collaborate. We care.”
CMIT Solutions is a franchise organization that provides managed information technology services for small businesses. CEO Jeff Connally says, “We went from ‘selling IT services’ to ‘We help make small businesses more successful.’ It’s a shift from being an IT provider to being a business partner.
Graham-White Manufacturing is the world’s technology leader in the drying of compressed air for locomotives and rail transit vehicles. Their tagline tagline used to be, “We provide reliable transportation solutions.” Now its purpose has become: We help make transportation safer, faster, and more reliable.”
The one question sales managers must ask
The question that sales managers must ask is often the question they don’t ask: “How will this customer be different as a result of doing business with us?” Asking this question “ignites a chain reaction that drives outstanding sales performance.”
Asking this question helps reminding everyone about the impact products and services have on customers and preparing for the conversations salespeople will be having with customers. Having these discussions— about how customers’ lives would be different as the result of doing business with us— sheds a wholly different perspective on sales activity. What you look at not only focuses your mind but translates into your behavior, which shifts people’s perception and experience of you.
Are you a hotel sales manager who sells with a noble purpose?
Tom Costello is the President and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a hotel consulting and sales training company that helps hotel owners and their sales teams grow their business and generate more sales.