Connecting Sales With Purpose

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.

Altruistic Purpose

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.

Identifying Correct Problems

Every business has their own unique problems to address. I can easily say that the largest, most important opportunity exists in identifying the CORRECT problems to address.

Running closely behind this is understanding the full extent, reach, impact, or cost of the problem; only to be followed by creating an adequate budget or plan to address it.

In my consulting role, I get to hear a lot of problems, challenges, difficulties, and struggles. This is not a complaint whatsoever as it plays well to my strategic, forward-thinking, idea-generating strengths and keeps me engaged in my work. I find an outsider’s perspective to asking difficult questions and checking assumptions is incredibly efficient at pinpointing major challenges. It also helps to minimize blame and emotion – just stick to the facts of where you are as compared to where you want to be.

As you begin identifying problems; you’ll likely run into the following distractions:

Lack of budget; lack of time; lack of talent; don’t know what to do next; lagging sales; low conversions; slow pipeline; anything technology-related and countless more.

These are NEVER the correct problem. Read that again. They are important, but not the actual problem. They are, however, indicators of the problem. Trying to fix the distractions is a never ending cycle of shifting resources from one fire to another without fully extinguishing any of them. Keep digging and you’ll soon arrive at the source.

Fair warning; the source of all the problems is usually the owners/leaders. It often comes down to a disconnect between goals, purpose, vision; and the messaging, audience selection, and/or structure design. 

I freely admit that this is a bitter pill to swallow. Like taking vitamins or eating plenty of vegetables; the benefits far outweigh the temporary unpleasantness.

The Simple Approach

Whether it is a desire to show how smart, talented, or gifted we are (ego and collective ego), or not taking the time to make sure we understand it to the very core; we often make things more complex than they need to be.

Perhaps you’ll get some inspiration from the following quotes. This notion has been around for a long time.

“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”  ~ Albert Einstein

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”  ~ Hans Hofmann

Some things are naturally more complex and nuanced than others. But everything has its own base of simplicity. When we rush to market without a certain level of simplicity, we are plagued by struggles, challenges, and slow growth. When we invest the time into discovering and pushing this simplicity, efforts will be rewarded with ease of communication and the spread of ideas.

As we develop clarity about these disconnections, we can begin to see new opportunities for solutions that make significant and sustainable changes in our organizations.

If you are interested in learning more about how to identify the correct problems in and around your organization, connect with me here and mention ‘opportunities’ in the introduction.

Simple Ways To Build Your Brand

Let me start off by making it perfectly clear that YOU ARE A BRAND. Your teams, clubs, groups, organizations, associations, and businesses are brands as well. Everything that has a reputation, produces an emotion (even the anticipation of an emotion), or makes a memory is a brand. Brands are either in the process of growing or dying.

Feel free to read that first paragraph as many times as you need to fully understand what I mean by a brand.

For too long now we have been lead to believe building a brand was difficult, arduous, and expensive. This is simply not true today.

Branding is about human connections. Connections have been a part of humanity for as long as we have inhabited the planet. Marketing, sales, leadership, financing, and more – in fact ALL aspects of business – are merely different ways to build human connections.

These aspects of business are not islands, silos, or disconnected vaults. Like depicted in the beautiful fresco School Of Athens by Raphael (used in header image); they are common areas of experience, theories, and passions designed to spark conversations. Such conversations are essential to building connections.

People make connections with brands (remember people are brands) where there is alignment in beliefs, values, and or actions. If you want to make more connections you can follow the age-old saying of “attracting more bees with honey than with vinegar’ – and simply act, believe, and value similar things as your ideal audience(s).

How to be Authentic.

Invest the time to discovering your true self. Dedicate the rest of your life to continuously refining your identity. Loosing sight of yourself leads to all manner of undesirable outcomes.

Permit yourself to like some things, but not others – even when it doesn’t make rational sense. It is crucial to know your preferences and desires. You will soon identify complex hierarchies of important things

Allow yourself to believe what you want to believe, but be open to criticism and well-constructed challenges. This is how we expand or shift our beliefs. There are few things worse than shrinking beliefs.

Seek ideas that resonate with you.

Seek and support businesses, organizations, groups, and people who share similar beliefs. Social media is a great place to start because so much is available with just a few taps of a convenient screen.

Continuously expand your comfort zone by trying new things. Perhaps you will absolutely enjoy sudoku, sewing, skydiving, skiing, etc. Use interesting quotes and memes as fodder for daily deeper discovery (pick a topic, set a timer for 30 minutes, then explore). This might easily introduce you to a new favorite thinker, writer, musician, business tycoon, from a era long gone.

Create Value.

Connecting people is tremendously valuable and encourages others to introduce you to new people. All it takes is 2-3 sentences that explain why you think they should meet.

Another great way to create value is to listen. Listen to the words people say, the words they don’t say, the emotions behind them. Ask questions about their interests, desires, and quirkiness. Listen with the intent to understand (not to merely have a turn to speak yourself), then follow it up with information that may be relevant to their situation.

Remember that we grow and prosper to the extent that we deliver value to others.

As you can see, building a brand is not difficult, arduous, or expensive. All it requires is road map, some navigation/direction, and a little effort each day.

Change Is Constant

Change has been around for a long time. It is argued that if there was an actual start to the universe, it was the first change, and the instigator of all other changes to come.

Yet after all these years of successfully handling change, many of us still ‘struggle’ with it. This impacts us in business, volunteering, education, personal relationships, our bodies … EVERYTHING!

Here are a handful of thoughts that have helped me work with change.

  1. Accept that it is a necessary component for growth.
    I often talk about this topic in workshops and begin by listing some of the more popular synonyms for change – Adapt, adjust, growth, help, improve, maximize, polish, progress, refine, transform, tweak, update, and many more. One of the biggest challenges with change begins with our attitude towards it.

    As you read the rest of this article, substitute the word ‘change’ with any of your favorite of these synonyms. You’ll see that even this slight alteration will enhance your perception of the word change.

    Our thoughts and actions up to this point have brought us precisely to our current situation. If we want a different situation, we must change.

  1. Identify what needs changing (as well as what doesn’t).
    Everything starts with a dream. Temporarily escape the grips of logic, sensory input, and rational thinking to design an ideal version of what you would like. Like an architect, complete the design down to the finest details like the plates that cover light switches.

    Only once we have a clear concept of what we want can we begin to overlay it with current stipulations of time or other resource. From here it will be easy to decide what to eliminate and what needs to be added.

  2. Build connections to change through communication.
    Two reasons people struggle to buy into change: they either didn’t have enough input/influence; or they have not received enough (quantity or quality) information about the scope and impact the change.

    Communication is the best way to remedy or escape this challenge. Use it to build connections and champions for pending changes. Other members will take social cues from them whether they are on your side or not.

  3. Prepare a runway and flight plan.
    Before receiving permission to take off, pilots are required to file formal plans of when and where they anticipate landing as well as the path they intend to take. Take a tip from plots and provide your people with a change plan so they can see a larger scope of the changes, what is specifically up next, and where they fit in. This will help build trust and confidence.

    Be sure to fill the change plan with plenty spots to check in with crew and deliver positive reinforcement for progress being made.

  4. Systemize and Refresh.
    The job of the runway is to provide an ideal environment to build the speed that makes flight possible and stable. Systems go a long way in helping us build crucial momentum. But as we get more efficient at tasks, it can get easy to allow lazy errors to also become habit.

    Refreshing the plan is about adding new, small, and easy elements as we go along. The key is in the timing and balance. Keep the updates far enough apart that people can build momentum, yet not develop ruts and lethargy. Keep them small enough that progress isn’t stopped, yet large enough that progress can still be made.

 

Now that you have a few solid tools to handle change, you have 2 challenges.

The first is to implement them in your own life and situations to the point that they are a part of your everyday thoughts. I cannot claim full ownership of these ideas as they were shared with me by various mentors. Yet, after decades of living with and refining them, they are truly my own.

The second is to share them with others. One great way to share them is by being a living example. People will ask you how you handle it at some of the oddest of times and situations. Without sounding like a promoter, feel free to share, tweet, link, copy/paste, etc. to others. The fact exists that change will not stop. The better we are at handling it, the better we will grow.

 

Always looking forward


 

 

Tools For Building Business

Like building a house requires basic tools of hammers, saws, screwdrivers, etc.; building a business requires basic tools as well. This article brings up some of my most-used tools in helping businesses grow; dream, vision, passion, and voice.

The dreams we have while we sleep seem to regularly defy logic, are as fleeting as the wind, and don’t last very long. Even the most vivid and recurring ones seem to provide a glimpse of the raw power of our imaginations. Unless we focus energy towards refining them, dreams alone are not a suitable foundation for building a business, a legacy, or a reputation.

Vision is a detailed depiction of where we intend to go. This ‘place is far off into the future’ and impossible to see with naked eye. Just like explorers might use telescopes, we too can use our imagination to peer into the world that does not yet exist and describe what we intend to create.

Visions inspire more people than dreams do because they provide enough context for people to understand and buy-in; yet leave enough openness for others to invest their emotions, ideas, and actions. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may have used the word dream in his famous speech in DC; but he was truly talking about his vision for equality that his children could experience and enjoy. His simple words continue to inspire millions who make continuous strides towards their interpretation of his vision.

In the business world, few get a chance to develop such vision as we are under such pressure to produce ‘the old way’. When you do get the opportunity to develop and share your vision, the following tools will be quite handy.

Passion is a deep yearning or an omni-present urging to engage or pursue in an activity longer than most suggest is reasonable. The deep connection we have to certain things influences all of our decisions (some are blatant while others are very subtle). The simplest explanation I have is that we do it because it gives us incredible amounts of pleasure. I have yet to hear any evidence that suggests we have a maximum on the number of passions or a finite amount of energy that can be derived/invested into them.

When we talk about our passions with people who believe remotely similarly; we can assemble powerful crowds.

Our voice is how we speak. It can actually be the vibration of vocal cords that produces sounds and words, or it could be our actions that produce results and memories. I firmly believe that producing memories is one of the most powerful things we can do as individuals or collections of people.

For too many, growing their business is merely a dream – random glimpses of what could be scattered about like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle dumped from the box. Invest time into refining your imagination and you will begin to see a clearer vision and find it easier to not only invest your passions, but garner the diverse passions of others. As you prepare yourself for the ultimate challenge of communicating your vision, invest further time to developing your voice (words, presentation, and actions to support) as well as the voice of others.

These investments will provide substantial emotional, physical, and financial returns!

 

In case you were wondering; we work with clients of all sizes to help develop their dreams, visions, passions and voices as they truly are fundamental tools to business growth.

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david r frick is a business artist, strategist, and the founder of SuccessVentures where he helps businesses evolve operations, communications, and leadership into ways that better meet the needs of the 21st Century. Comment below, or send direct message with any questions or comments.