Fostering personal resilience
Salespeople who define themselves solely by their ability to hit sales targets will experience many highs and lows. In a volatile market, when sales may be slow, salespeople with no bigger purpose than to hit the number are more likely to succumb to fear and anxiety, which is hardly the right mindset for being engaging with customers. In fact, when we find ourselves in a “threat” state, our brain’s ability to reason and make sound decisions becomes impaired.
A salesperson who has a constancy of purpose has more confidence and tenacity. When your noble purpose is to improve life for customers, there is always opportunity. As one CEO put it, “In a world of uncertainty, our noble purpose gives our team something concrete. It’s something we can tether ourselves in the face of setbacks and uncertainty.”
It’s long been assumed that sales teams are primarily driven by economic incentives. A growing body of evidence tells us this traditional financial approach to sales motivation is backward. Dr. Valerie Good, a professor and researcher at Michigan State University, reports that her study revealed that salespeople are more likely to work harder and be more adaptable if they’re motivated by the belief that one is making a contribution to a cause greater, and more enduring, than oneself, as compared to a desire for money.
These findings are crucial for leaders who need to rally their team in a challenging market. In a post-COVID-19 world, people are searching for meaning and questioning their relationship with work. A sense of noble purpose binds a team together and gives them the tenacity and resilience to tackle big challenges.
Mary Slaughter, Executive Director, People Advisory Services, Ernst & Young LLP, believes that one of the outcomes of COVID-19’s social isolation is the profound awareness of our need for human interaction. “In the fields of behavioral psychology and neuroscience, the overwhelming research validates the social nature of our brains. We are literally wired to make social connections with one another. Our need for human-to-human interaction is a necessity rather than a nicety. When it’s missing, we experience emotional pain and suffering, which interestingly travels over the same neural networks as physical pain. Our humanity is biological and must be integrated into all we do.”
Mary continues, “In the context of sales, those who nurture meaningful interactions with their clients are creating the basis for long-lasting relationships. Connecting on a human level with clients can support their sense of safety and well-being and encourage transparency in return. One of the great lessons that will be learned from this global pandemic is that our humanity must be acknowledged. For sellers, their humanity is defined, in part, by the way they view and interact with their clients. How sellers ‘show up’ now will be a pivotal moment in their personal brand for years to come.”
A sales team emboldened to improve life for customers has the fierce urgency of now. They are resilient and innovative, collectively and individually, because they know customers are counting on them.
Jeffrey Stier, Executive Director, People Advisory Services, Ernst & Young LLP, explains selling with noble purpose means that every salesperson has the skills and training to connect the three dots of purpose with each other, which are:
- Their personal purpose
- The purpose of their sales organization
- The purpose of the individual customer
When a salesperson lives their personal purpose every day, they have greater presence, courage and confidence.
If that salesperson can then connect their personal purpose to the purpose of their sales organization, they begin to feel differently about their work. They feel they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.
Finally, if that salesperson can help a customer understand how their relationship will positively impact and advance the customer’s personal purpose and agenda, something magical happens. Research suggests that on average the salesperson will be:
- 64% more fulfilled
- 50% more likely to have meaningful work and client relationships
- 225% more productive
- 32% healthier
- 50% more likely to take on leadership roles