My daughter is a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, a program administered by the Canadian Forces. Among the many benefits is their ability to teach and reinforce basic like skill habits everyone can benefit from. Two in specific is teamwork and accountability. Two attributes core to sales success; and while I am not suggesting that sales people be sent off to boot camp as part of their on-boarding process, if only because of the economics, although I could argue that over the long run, given productivity, reduced costs related to turnover and impact on client satisfaction, there is a strong case that can be made.
Some of these things apply to athletes, many companies have figured out that hiring former athletes, or top rated collage athletes who just missed being drafted into the pros, make great salespeople, discipline, action oriented, perseverance – the willingness to learn and do what it takes to win.
There is also no denying that many salespeople who come out of a military background have a greater ability to learn best practices and turn that learning into action. The ability to take orders, follow process and be accountable for the action and pride in the outcome.
The interesting thing about the brand of accountability she has learned, one best for sales as well, is that it is personal accountability. The type that allows you to share in the wins, those of the team, as well as your own, without limiting your progress, or limiting that of the team, based solely on your abilities, actions or inactions.
Embracing accountability allows individuals to stay on a path of personal improvement and development. Once you accept that it is within your ability to figure out and act on issues, challenges, and opportunities. It frees you from the trappings of finding, making and improving excuses as to why things are not working for you, and sets you on a path of figuring out how to make things work, or change course to where they better can.
It puts you in a state where it is not the fact that the product suck, your manager is a bitch, and the other company has better spiffs. But here’s the deal, the guys working for the other company, they think their product suck, their manager is useless, and they are not being paid enough. And here is the secret, this is only the case when you are not making your numbers, as it is for the other guy. In other words, every sales person faces systemic challenges of product, occasional service problems, pricing, the economy, that useless prospect that doesn’t get things, blah, blah, blah. Yet some continue to deliver, and some continue to be victims (of what, they are not always sure.
My daughter was telling me about an incident during an exercise with her squadron, she had a problem performing that she attempted to address with an excuse, the response from sergeant: “Sounds like a personal problem.”
When it comes to your pipeline and sales, do you have a personal problem?
What’s in Your Pipeline?