Sales as a career can indeed be noble. This is the position/department responsible for generating the revenue that essentially pays everyone’s salary – including the CEO.
Under ideal circumstances, it can be very lucrative as well as personally fulfilling (as you bring value to everyone involved). Too often, circumstances are less-than-ideal and this reveals the ugly, cutthroat, gimmicky, self-serving tendencies that push people away rather than build value.
One way to attract and bring out the best in sales professionals is to connect sales, marketing, and other revenue-generating activities with an authentic and consistent mission or purpose. This purpose can be either altruistic in nature (unselfishly giving to others) or it can be product/customer-focused. Both tend to bring about the same benefits when supported well.
Funding a non-profit organization that operates to benefit others is one of the easiest ways to align with a purpose as long as it is a noteworthy cause and an amount that is enough to do good and catch people’s attention.
Another way to align with an altruistic purpose is to commit your entire operations to it. TOMs Shoes provides one of the best examples with their One For One program. From their very beginnings, the company donates one pair of shoes for every pair they sell. This was a key element in their rapid growth in an already saturated space of footwear. They launched in May of 2006 and have already given over 60 million pairs of shoes!
Patagonia sportswear calls itself The Activist Company, and sells sustainable outdoor clothing. Their mission statement reads: Build the best products, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. It is easy to imagine that they are very active, and vocal about minimizing their environmental impact. They live and breathe their mission every day.
Once these principles are indoctrinated into the books, operations, and cultures of the organization; they become amazingly easy to implement and expand through growth.
Product or Customer-focused Purpose
This sort of purpose is considerably more delicate to get right. Using words like ‘the best’, ‘great service’, or ideals related to ‘customer experience’ are easy to claim, but very difficult to define, implement, monitor with any consistency. Thus, they often become petty lip-service that lacks any connection or inspiration.
Microsoft is a great example. Their mission reads: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. It has essentially been the same since the day it was founded! This led to the creation of numerous programs to make it easier to navigate and harness the power of computers. Customers truly win by having such tools at their disposal.
It is interesting to think that the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation is still living out that same purpose of helping people achieve more. Instead of using computers, they are focused on some of the most overlooked populations. Imagine what they can contribute to the world with core knowledge and without hassle of fighting diseases like malaria!
How It Works
Connecting sales with purpose brings out the humanity in the business. It helps to build connections with audiences and provides compelling reasons to feel good about the purchase. In highly competitive situations where price often seems like a major concern, a compelling purpose often wins them over better than a discount.
Unless 100% or your people (staff, team, associates, leaders, contractors, vendors, partners, etc.) know and can recite your purpose in their own language; it isn’t clear enough. We know some folks who can help you discover and communicate your purpose in ways that help drive sales! My purpose is to engage, create, and help organizations grow. Let’s start a conversation.