When you begin in a sales role, you are taught the basics: prospecting, qualification, presentation, objection handling, and closing. You are given a quota and are driven weekly, monthly, or quarterly to obtain that objective. When you find someone willing to speak with you, you get excited and start to qualify the opportunity. I didn’t learn this when I first got my first sales position. I learned this when my mentor recommended I invest in my first personal development course with Tom Hopkins.
I used this tried and true approach for many years during my sales career. The companies I worked for pushed me to meet with anyone who could fog a mirror. I was successful and won many awards. Earlier in my career, I was all in if I found someone who would engage in a conversation about my product or service. And I wasted a lot of time and more importantly, relationships with people on my teams.
The learning that changed how I went to market
One of the best things to come out of the Miracle on the Hudson was the opportunity to meet leaders from many different areas. While in the green room of one of the interviews I had shortly after the Miracle, I met a top entrepreneur who was being interviewed about his article in Entrepreneur Magazine. One thing I learned about him was that his team would go “to the mat” for him. He was their hero.
As he and I spoke, he mentioned a quote from Mark Twain that resonated with me. It resonated as for many years in my sales career, I struggled with this concept. He told me,
“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option”
For many years, I was so focused on getting the number and/or winning the sales competitions that I didn’t consider the ramifications my decisions may have for my teams. Many times, it worked out, but several times, I probably caused my team a lot of pain and anguish. After that interview, I committed to myself that going forward; I would focus on not allowing someone to be my priority if they were not as committed as I was.
That one decision changed how I engaged with prospective clients and how my teams viewed their relationship with me. My sales started escalating, and most of my team members went the extra mile to get the outcome.
That mindset helped me even more when I went out independently and started to bring people into my personal team.
When I was in New Jersey for the Miracle on the Hudson’s fifth anniversary, I was interviewing and speaking in the NYC metro area. In between a speaking engagement in Edgewater, NJ and an interview in NYC, I was with friends from Palisades Medical Center and I received a call for an interview. The organization who called had a different value set than mine.
As I evaluated the offer for the interview, I counseled with my friends from Palisades and with my personal team. I ultimately declined that opportunity. I had some people tell me I should have done it as I could share my message to an audience that may need to hear a different opinion. But as I thought back on that time, holding onto my values was more important than taking another interview. When I got back home, my team told me that decision showed them I was all in on the mission and they were all in likewise.
It was the day that I became their hero.
The Epitome of being a hero to her team
As many of you know, I have had the honor to support the American Red Cross and its mission of alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies. I have met many tremendous leaders as I have traveled and spoken on behalf of the Red Cross to 45 of the 50 states. One of those leaders I met, is one that exemplifies being a hero to her team.
I met Jill Orton at an event. She invited me to speak at a fundraiser for one of her chapters. I met many of her team members as we prepared for the event. As I met with them, each had a similar perspective of Jill. They all respected her and were all in on the Red Cross mission but, more importantly, on Jill. They would go to the mat for Jill. Jill was their hero as they worked and volunteered for her, not the Red Cross.
I have followed Jill’s career as we moved through the pandemic. She kept her team together and was involved in many of the hurricanes and emergencies around the country. I spoke with her when she was in a bunker in Jacksonville, Florida, during a hurricane, ready to deploy. She led by doing, and others lined up with her to support those going through their own turmoil.
Recently Jill was recognized by the Red Cross to be on an international Red Cross mission. When I saw this, there was no doubt that I needed to invite Jill to be on the cover and interview her for my upcoming spring issue of Moments Matter the Magazine. This edition will focus on women leaders worldwide to recognize International Womens Month. And Jill is the epitome of being a HERO to her team.
Look at your relationships.
Are they your option and their priority, or are you their option and your priority?
Once you shift your mindset to focus on relationships that are your priority and your option, your team will recognize that you are in it with them, and you will be able to accomplish much more than you ever would believe you could.
And then you will be a hero to your team.