Purpose is why your organization exists.
Your Noble Sales Purpose™ is how you make a difference. You don’t have to create world peace. Your purpose can be about making your customers more successful, or about changing your industry.
For example, one of our clients sells project management software for building construction and maintenance. Their software helps buildings go up faster, safer and more economically. Their Noble Sales Purpose™ is, “We help people build a better world.” They don’t just say it. They’re passionate about it. They drive by buildings, pointing them out to their kids, saying, “Look we’re part of that.”
Their sales force is on fire, because they’re improving the way buildings, as they put it, “come out of the ground.”
That passion about purpose is why they’re able to introduce new products in a down economy — and their sales are up by 20%.
Purpose makes you money.
In Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras documented that organizations driven by purpose and values outperformed the market 15:1 and outperform comparison companies 6:1.
Purpose may sound fluffy, but it translates into cash. Having a purpose beyond making money almost always results in you making more money. Peter Drucker once famously put, “Profit isn’t the purpose of a business, but rather the test of its validity.”
I’ll take that a step further, driving revenue is not the purpose of a sales force, its the test of their effectiveness.
Purpose is essential in a tough economy.
Purpose is not just a feel good thing. When the economy is bottoming out, customers tend to hold onto their money.Three years ago I was hired by a national IT service provider. If you asked their people what they did, they would have told you, “We sell IT services to small businesses.”
Then we made a critical shift. Now their CEO says, “Our Noble Sales Purpose is to help small businesses be more successful.” We pulled that purpose to the front and center of everything they do, their sales training, their marketing, and the way senior leadership communicates with the field.
The result: While their competitors were floundering through the three worst years of the recession, my client’s revenues grew by 35%. Their margins went up as well. Ask anyone in their organization what they do, and they’ll tell you. “We help small business be more successful, and we’re damn good at it!”
Purpose-driven salespeople outsell product-driven salespeople.
In a double-blind study I did with a major biotech company, the single unifying characteristic of the top performers was a sense of larger purpose. The salespeople who were product-focused or who wanted to win the trip were average at best.
The salespeople who sold with noble purpose – who truly wanted to make a difference to their customers – drove more revenue than the people who were focused on sales goals and money. clearly articulated purpose was to heal patients consistently sold more than everyone else.
Purpose sustains motivation.
Money will get salespeople to exert extra effort for a finite period of time. But what happens if halfway through year you lose a big deal, and you know you’re not going to make your bonus? Do you give up? Salespeople care about money, they may even care more than most. But burning deep inside their souls is a desire to make a difference.
They want to know that their work counts for something. Every human being alive wants to know “I matter.”
Daniel Pink’s research about what motivates people is clear. It’s not the carrot and the stick. It’s mastery, autonomy and purpose. When you tap into that emotional need, you get a much higher level of commitment.
Salespeople working towards a higher purpose go the extra mile, whether they’re going to win the trip or not. The reality is, everybody in the company can’t be the top performer every time. The other 95% need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
A Gallup study found that sales people who were the right ‘fit” with their organization’s purpose generate four to ten times as much revenue as average performers. When you announce your purpose, you attract the people who are will stay passionate about it over the long term.
Purpose must drive sales behavior.
This is where most organizations miss the boat. They often have clarity about how they make a difference to customers and they use it to create a marketing message. But then, they don’t pull it through their sales organization. This is a critical mistake.
One need look no further than the the auto industry to see what happens when you don’t translate your purpose into sales behavior. The auto industry has genius engineers. They do consumer research to create the perfect car for us. Their marketing people create compelling ads demonstrating how the car will improve your life.
But what happens when you go to the dealership? The salesperson doesn’t ask a single question about you and your life. All they want to know is “How much a month can you pay?” and “Do you have good credit?” Thousands of hours and millions of dollars in research, and it all falls apart on the showroom floor.
The sales person doesn’t care about you and your life, all they care about is closing the deal. That’s because closing the deal is the only thing their sales manager has told them to care about.
The conversations managers have with salespeople drive the conversations salespeople have with customers.
The internal conversations become external conversations. If your internal conversations are only about price, volume and margin, with no mention of a larger purpose, that’s exactly what your salespeople are going to be discussing with customers.
Compare the typical car-buying experience to the Apple store experience. When I go into the Apple store, the salesperson asks me what I do for a living and what kinds of creative projects I’m working on. They’re not just trying to close the deal; they’re trying to help me have a better life.
Great products and a customer-focused marketing message aren’t enough. If you want to be successful, you must to teach your sales force how to pull noble purpose to the front and center of customer conversations.
Purpose ignites the secret yearning of the human heart.
Human beings have two fundamental emotional needs: connection and meaning. We want to have close personal relationships and we want our work to count for something.
I’ve worked with over sales organizations all over the world. I’ve spent over 10,000 hours studying top performers, and I can tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, people with a Noble Sales Purpose™ have fire in the belly that the people who are just working for money don’t.
The research only confirms what we already know in our hearts to be true, working for a higher purpose ignites people’s passion in a way that spreadsheets never will.
Because as much as salespeople want to make money, they also want to make a difference.
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