Why Great Sales People Do What They Do
Sales is a tough profession. Part of the reason people are in sales is because they are able to make more money than they would in another type of position. Yet in all my thirty odd years of working with and training sales professionals I will tell you the masterful sales people do it for more than the money.
Being in sales is tough on one’s ego. There is a lot of rejection in sales and you have to be able to have an ego that is strong enough to take all the battering that happens in the sales process. Getting past the gatekeeper of a key prospect you want to talk to can be a challenge, having phone calls or emails ignored is frustrating…and that’s even before you get into the actual sales process.
Knowing all this, why would anyone decide to be a sales person, of not for the money? Seems to me you could go anywhere and get a bruised ego, hurt feelings, and tons of rejection. Doesn’t making more money take away all the sting and it becomes ‘all worth it’? Yes, of course it helps, but no one who is in sales for any length of time, and takes pride in being a sales professional, does it just for the money.
If not money, then what? It has to be more than the feeling one gets from doing a good job…we can get that feeling in lots of positions. So if not money and not feeling good about a job well done, what could it be?
I could write an entire article on why people get into sales and why they stay in sales. For this article, though, I want to focus on masterful sales people, particularly sales people that seem magical in how they work with people. They aren’t slick. They aren’t pushy. They aren’t the image of every sales person you can think of that leaves you with a negative feeling. What they are is human beings first and sales people second.
What I mean by that is they connect with others at a level that is satisfying to them and the other person. They genuinely care about the other person and what’s important to them, learning about them, getting to know them, and making others around them feel safe. Most of these masterful sales people I have met don’t even know this about themselves. It is so much part of their DNA that they can’t see it, sometimes even when I tell them directly. Thus, the sale is the natural outgrowth of a successful relationship. When I was in recruiting I used to tell candidates and clients, “You won’t say yes because I throw you on the floor and stomp on your stomach. You’ll say yes because it’s the logical conclusion to the end of a successful process we have been through together”. The sale happens because the relationship happened.
This leads me to why sales people do what they do and sell for a living, beyond the money they make.
First, they get a high from the relationship. They enjoy connecting with people at a deep level and getting to truly know them. People matter to them, not just for the possibility of making a sale but because of the sheer joy the interactions create for them. You will see them lean in, both physically and metaphorically, when meeting with another person. If you watch them, they get a smile on their face, their body relaxes, they relax and you will notice it in their gestures and body language. It is part of why they are on this planet, to make those bonds.
For this group of people, the need to be in service to others is paramount. They would much rather lose a sale than convince someone to make a purchase that they know isn’t right for them. Their focus is, first and foremost, about being in service to others. The other person is put first, the sale second.
The excitement they have when closing a deal is the feeling that comes from knowing the other person gets a good product or service, and knowing they were a major contributing factor to the other person receiving the right product or service. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that amazing feeling when we give someone a gift and they are so excited and babble with excitement. It’s thrilling to know that they love the present, and it was you that picked it out. Masterful sales people get that same feeling when a deal closes.
How they can make other people feel, and knowing they were a major contributor to that feeling, is what truly drives sales people. I have found that for many of these stars, receiving the commission check can in fact be anticlimactic. Yes, it’s the payment they earned and we’d all rather have it than not, but the money is simply the reward for doing an outstanding job that involved them connecting to people.
Money does not make the world go round, people and relationships do. Zig Ziglar said, “you can have everything you want in life if you can help enough other people get what they want”. No statement is truer for masterful, kickass sales professionals than this.
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