This is an excerpt from my forthcoming book with Hendre Coetzee, Shiftability: Creating a Sustainable Competitive Advantage in Selling which will be released in early 2017. Sign up for my email newsletter on the homepage to receive more information about Shiftability.
Selling without a clear purpose is like driving across the continent without a map. It can certainly be done. A lot of people do it. But it is NOT the most effective way to cover the distance and reach your destination. And like that cross-country journey it takes a lot of support teams to make it happen.
If you start the trip without clearly defining your destination you can still get somewhere. The question will be is that where you really want to go? How do you know? How can you tell?
Just “winging it” and “flying by the seat of your pants” in the sales jungle was once the brave thing to do. Now it is just stupid. Now it takes clear understanding about what you are aiming to accomplish, it takes tons of planning and preparation, and it takes diligence in execution. You can no longer serve the needs of today’s information-savvy client by just showing up with the latest product brochure in hand. Now you must have a deeper understanding of the customer, their market, their products and their business challenges and the implications of those challenges. And you must start all that with clearly understanding what you are aiming to do from a higher-level perspective of purpose.
And while the noble cause of making a profit may in fact be a fine goal, in this case it does not qualify as a purpose.
A company’s core purpose, as defined in Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, is “the organization’s fundamental reason for being. An effective purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company’s work – it taps their idealistic motivation -- and gets at the deeper reasons for an organization’s existence beyond just making money.”
From both a corporate and a personal perspective we like the simplification of this idea that Roy M. Spence and Haley Rushing have in their book It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For. In their book they give the following as their simplest way to explain purpose: “Purpose is a definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make in the world”.
Both books clearly show that purpose-driven organizations are amongst the most successful in the world, and that leaders who clearly understand the power of purpose drive these organizations.
Understanding and having a clear purpose may not be the answer to everything needed to be successful. Without it, however, the battle to succeed is made more complex and many times more likely to be lost. The choice is yours. Lead and sell from a clear purpose – or not.