This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.
Article By Dave Kahle
Q. Mr. Kahle, was there ever a time in your sales life that you just decided to be the best? Or was it something that you have always had? I started a business a few years ago, and need to take it to the next level.
A. Wow. What a good question. I have honestly never been asked that before, nor have I ever thought about it. So, your question prompted a whole new area of thought for me.
I’ve been fortunate in my sales career to have been the number one sales person in the nation for two different companies in two different industries. I’ve had other successes in almost all of my jobs. My firm, The DaCo Corporation, is today one of the most successful of our type of business.
Having said that, your question prompted some real introspection and reflection. Thank you.
Let’s begin by defining the terms. First of all, I rarely compared myself with other people. So, when you use the words “the best”, it wasn’t that I wanted to achieve more than other people. Instead, I wanted to become the “best” that I was capable of becoming. So, my motivation has always been to make the most of the opportunities and gifts given to me. It was never to be better than someone else. “The best” was never a statement relative to my standing with other people. It always was an internal goal, relative to the situations in which I found myself.
To this day, I continue to think that way. For example, I spend very little time comparing my company and my personal progress to others. It’s not about me (or us) relative to others. It is always about us, relative to who we are, to the opportunities that present themselves to us.
I think that is an important distinction. My standards and goals were always internally derived, and never defined in terms of other people.
Here’s another thought. To be the “best” connotes a fixed position. When you are “the best” you have arrived. The race has been won, the prize achieved. I have never thought in those terms. To me, it has always been a continuous, never-ending process. I am certainly not the best that I can be, not by a long shot. My company has not “arrived,” nor will we ever. We continually strive, however, to become ever-better. The focus is on the journey and the process, not the end.
One more thought. While the concept of becoming the “best that you can be” may make sense in a general, long-range, lifelong perspective, I have always found my motivation to be more urgent and within reach. In other words, while I could understand and assent to the general rule to “become the best that I could be”, what motivated me on a day to day basis, and still motivates me, are the immediate opportunities and challenges. In a practical sense, I have not been motivated to “be the best that I could be in my life,” rather I have been motivated to do the best with the opportunity and situation which I see in front of me.
Since your question really speaks to core motivation, I feel compelled to share that with you. We both realize that this Ezine focuses on sales and sales management concepts and situations. I have no desire to stray from that focus. However, because my core motivation is such an integral part of my approach to everything, I can not ignore it.
I am a committed, born-again Christian. That commitment, and the growing relationship that I have enjoyed with Jesus Christ, has been by far the greatest impact on my performance.
It is a basic premise of Christianity that each Christian is given certain gifts of talent and abilities and is expected to use them to the fullest. It is also a basic tenant that each Christian is given responsibility for jobs and people, and is expected to effectively manage that which he/she has been given.
It is from those basic Christian values that my motivation proceeds. I view every talent that I have as a gift from God, temporarily entrusted to me to make the most of it. I view every employee in my organization in a similar vein. I view every client and every participant in every seminar as opportunities put there for me with which I must do the best I can. It is my responsibility to bring as much value to them as I can – to have the greatest positive impact on them that I can, within the constraints of the time and situation.
From a sales perspective, I view every customer and every opportunity as specifically entrusted to me. I must do the best with whatever opportunity and challenge I have in front of me today. I must maximize every opportunity and our impact on every person.
Understand, also, that this represents an ideal to which I strive. I fall far short of implementing it perfectly. However, even though I often fail to do everything as well as I would like, it keeps me on my game, focusing on the process and the journey.
Whew! I have waxed philosophically. I hope it has been of benefit to you.
Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle
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Image by Julie Rybarczyk on Flickr under Creative Commons license.