My Transformation from “Selling” to “Contributing”
I have never thought of myself as "good at selling."
I was uncomfortable with the notion of selling, because I saw it in the category of “imposing,” and that was not what polite people did to others. Yes I know, it was an early family message that I carried far too long.
It was only recently that I became totally comfortable, even eager, to talk about what I do professionally. I was able to identify the true purpose of what I do.
Simon Sinek calls this the “Why” in his excellent TED Talk video. (Link to Simon Sinek’s TED talk.)
My professional purpose is to increase the economic vitality of the Central Coast region of California where I live. I want the families who live here to be able to remain here over the generations, with a stable, vibrant economy. I can do my share of this by working with people who run successful local companies so they can continue to grow and thrive. The ripple effects of all this mean that employees, suppliers, and customers all benefit from the strong fabric of the community. (Simon Sinek’s “How.”)
I do all this by meeting with my Vistage group CEO members and my Tree House group independent professional members for individual coaching and monthly group meetings. (Again, Simon Sinek’s “What.”)
Business Growth via “Contributing and Selecting” vs. Selling
After I was able to become clear about the ultimate purpose of my professional activities, I could articulate my vision of the extended impact of what I do. Whenever I meet with others, I am able to talk about my purpose, why I love doing what I do, and my hope for this community over the long run. This is a very different conversation from a “sales pitch” or a “marketing meeting.” Others are excited to hear and they often join in with their own version of their contribution. We become “fellow travelers” for a noble cause.
In order for me to be most effective in the long run, I need to be working with the business owners and independent professionals who can have the most positive impact on the community and economy. Therefore I must be very selective. Not everyone will be a good fit.
This selectivity resonates well with others in the community; it has made a major difference for me personally. Instead of “selling” or in my old mindset, “imposing,” I am required to be selective. This has switched the dynamics of my process. Instead of feeling like I must “close” a sale, I meet with candidates to see if there may be a good fit. My attitude is completely different, and my results are far superior.
Many independent professionals have not yet thought through their “why,” and are not yet comfortable talking about the outcomes they seek to produce. They cannot picture nor articulate their “contribution” to the larger community.
If you are able to answer the question: “Why do you do what you do?” with an answer that taps into the ultimate ripple effect of your positive services, you are well on your way to switching from selling to contributing. This can go a long way towards enabling you to become more selective in growing your business.
(Thank you, Suzanne Livingston, for helping me to see my contribution!)