Do You Take It Personally?

Empathy Organizational leadership Respect


Key Point: We are ALL sales people… Get over it. It’s a great thing! Exceptional sales people connect solutions to problems. They love to make things better for others. Those who know me have heard me introduce myself as a salesman, regardless of the formal positions I’ve had, whether it be CEO, COO, VP Quality, teacher, CPO, founder, etc… I’m proud to be a salesman… I don’t mean the pressure-packing guy with white loafers, wanting to manipulate you… I mean the “solution” person that finds your pain point and relieves it.

I deeply respect Dan Pink. His work as a researcher and author has had a profound impact on me. His book Drive, is a reference for my strategy on compensation and motivation. And now his latest book, To Sell is Human, provides additional perspectives that are significant to both individuals and organizations. Why? He connects research to insight and sends us on fresh and important paths. I will blog on a number of key findings from this book over the next few months.

Essentially, sales is a service function. But for the best sales people, this is a deep commitment to make peoples’ lives better. Dan Pink shows us research on this, and highlights two principles that reinforce a dedication to serve others. 1. Make it personal and 2. Make it purposeful. Let’s focus on the first. 

My wife rented out a house to a wonderful couple in their late 70’s. As you would expect, age and life had made them bent over and fragile. One day when we visited with them, they showed us pictures of their time, long ago, in Iraq. They stood next to the British Ambassador and his wife; it was a black tie affair. They looked Hollywood glamorous in the photograph, (movie star beautiful… All of them). I always looked at our tenants differently after that. In Pink’s book, he cites a study about radiologists who were much more precise and comprehensive in their findings when they saw photos of the people attached to x-rays they examined. The “pictures” made their diagnosis much more personal, and ultimately effective.

Character Moves:

  1. Personally connect with the people you’re trying to serve. Whether it’s your boss, teammate, partner, customer or whoever you are trying to impact. Do everything to see the humanness of the other person. Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, ensures that there is an empty chair in every meeting he attends. That empty chair represents the customer and it is the responsibility of Amazonians to recognize the customer has a face, and a life. We need to be able to fully comprehend and fill that “empty chair” in our world with deep understanding. We must care. And you can’t fake it.
  2. Put yourself personally behind what you’re selling. If you don’t give your customers, clients, teammates, partners, your 24/7 availability to warranty what you stand for… Forget it. Then you’re not serious about your commitment to serve. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have protected private time, but I am saying if you are in the service business, it has to be personal… Both ways!

More lessons to connect with Dan Pink to come!

Make it personal in The Triangle,