The Rep Who Sells with Noble Purpose (and why competitors should be afraid)

Her name was Karen.

She sold the same drug regime as every other rep in her company. Her  geographic territory was a nondescript slice of interstates, strip malls, aging hospitals and understaffed, high stress, fake plant-adorned doctor’s offices, just like the other 450 reps in her organization.

Interstate Highway

Yet year after year, Karen came out on top.  She beat all the reps in her own company, and she cleaned the competitors’ clock.  She’d taken a number three product and driven it to number one.  Her customers adored her and she was the single most successful rep in the entire company for four years running.

I’ve coached hundreds of sales teams and Karen was the best I’ve ever seen. I wanted to know why.

So I asked her, “Why do you think you outperform everyone else?”

Her answer was unforgettable.

She said, “I always think about one patient.”

She described how her product, a drug used to treat a variety of debilitating conditions, improved people’s lives.  She began to tear up as she described a patient.

“I’ll never forget her,” she said. “She came up to me when I was talking with one of my doctors. She told me how her whole life had changed. Now she’s able to spend time with her grandchildren and she wakes up looking forward to the day.”

GrandmotherKaren went on,  “I think about her every single day. Whenever I’m talking to a difficult doctor, or dealing with a frustrated nurse, or an uncooperative insurance company, my mind always goes back to that one grandmother. My purpose  is to help her and people just like her, and I know that everyone I deal with wants to help her just as much as I do.”

There you have it, while most of her competitors were thinking about their bonus plan, Karen had a bigger goal.  She was Selling With Noble Purpose.  She had what I refer to as an NSP – A Noble Sales Purpose – that she carried into every customer interaction.

Getting misty-eyed over pharmaceuticals might seem a little over the top. But let me ask you a few critical questions:

What would happen if the people in your company felt even half as passionate about their products as Karen does about hers?

How many people in your company care so much about the customers that they hold them in their heart every single day?

Now here’s the real clincher – compare Noble Sales Purpose Karen with the average sales- person.

Who do you think is a more formidable competitor?

The salesperson who goes into meetings thinking about their compensation plan?

Or Karen, who’s Noble Sales Purpose is to improve the lives?

Who would have more tenacity?  Who would be a better listener?  Who would be more motivated to make that extra sales call on a rainy Friday afternoon?

Companies spend a fortune creating incentive programs designed to motivate their people.

But the truth is, the most formidable competitors are the people who actually care.

Instead of spending money on a fancy incentive program, companies would be better off training their employees to care.

People need to be paid fairly for their work.  But  employees with a noble sales purpose outperform incentive-driven employees every day of the week.  Selling with Noble Purpose is the key differentiator between being average and being exceptional. You don’t have to sell life-changing drugs. All you have to do is to identify who benefits from your work, and to decide care about them.

Karen loves her customers.  Do you?

If not, you better hope that you don’t have to compete against a Karen.

Lisa Earle McLeod helps organizations like Apple, Deloitte and Pfizer create more passionate purpose-driven workplaces.She is the author of three books included the best-seller, The Triangle of Truth: The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Resolving Conflicts Large and Small, A Washington Post Top 5 Book for Leaders.

 She is an international keynote speaker and consultant who has been seen on The Today show and featured in Forbes, Fortune, CEO Read and The Wall Street Journal.  You can reach her at where you can read hundreds of free articles.

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