Don’t Do It If You Don’t Love It…You Just Won’t Be That Great At It
By Jay Forte, Speaker, Performance Consultant and Author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition (reach at 401.338.3505 or at www.FireUpYourEmployees.com) and Ken Rogner, Senior Sales Management Consultant and Sales Educator (reach at 708.205.6721 or at firstname.lastname@example.org).
The other day, I heard the best question to ask someone you just met. Instead of “What do you do?” ask, “Why do you do what you do?” Then listen to see if you hear the responses to these questions in his or her answer: Does it engage you? Do you feel important? Does it make you think? Do you get to contribute? Do you get to make a difference? Do your feel capable? Do you love it?
The answers will give you great insight into people…and generally one of two perspectives emerge:
- Some people have no idea why they do what they do; they just show up and do their job until it is time to go home. Maybe they had filled in for someone one day and just stayed. Or maybe they were next in line in a natural progression for promotion. They can do the job but they don’t love it. It is just a job and they count the hours and minutes until the day is over. Bland, boring, blah.
- Others absolutely know why they do what they do because they love it; it appeals to an aspect of their personality or it gives them a level of professional satisfaction. The get excited about what they do because they have the ability of contributing in a big way and feeling competent. In this case, they thought about their role and how it matched what they like to do; they planned their response. They knew themselves and chose a career that was a good fit. Exciting, engaging and empowering.
The performance in #2 is significantly better than the performance in #1. And that directs this conversation to the word “talents” because in most cases, the people in #2 are aware of what interests them, what appeals to them and what engages them…the know their talents and strengths. And though a predisposition to particular talents does not guarantee you will be the best, it can directly encourage your success. But that success happens not just by showing up, but by the passion that the talents create in you – they activate you and make you want to put in the requisite energy and disciplined achievement to become great – not just good. When you are interested, engaged and passionate about what you do, you set yourself apart from others. This is the key to standing out and getting noticed. This is the key to extraordinary performance.
Our talents are core to each of us – they are part of our hardwiring. They indicate our thinking, interests and passions. Because they are part of our hardwiring, each of us is different. This means that in today’s intellectual (thinking) economy, where thinking drives performance, not every employee is right for every job. Skills and experience are no longer as important as talents when determining great employee job or role fit. Talents are a new and better way to encourage employees’ happiness, effectiveness, interest and ultimately success in their jobs. Passionate performance is the key to success and employees, who work in areas that activate their passions and talents, perform at levels that help organizations succeed.
So now that we know great performance is directly correlated to the level of interest and passion in the role, our task as managers is to assess employees and candidates and work to cast them in the right roles – the roles that will be a great fit, match their talents and activate their passions. When we succeed, we help our employees develop their talents and become great performers. This approach is especially effective with sales employees.
You can teach all of the steps in the sales process (analyzing markets and customers, questioning skills, closing and follow-up) to any sales person and help them become reasonably successful. But, if you want an outstanding and exceptional sales person you have to watch for a particular set of talents (hardwiring).
A recent review of a competency model for distribution sales indicated that the top talents and strengths in personal effectiveness are “interpersonal skills”, “demonstrating insight into personal behavior” and “maintaining open communications”. The area of academic competencies included strengths in “ethical behavior,” “self-control,” “persistence” and “learning-focus”. Finally, the area of workplace competencies included strengths in “establishing productive relationships,” “understanding customer needs,” “employing unique analysis,” “generating innovative solutions” and “situational awareness”. This is where we clearly define the required talent areas – the natural thinking and hardwiring – that will determine the difference between good and great sales employees.
Ask extraordinary (not average) salespeople to define the reason for their success and they will tell you they work for an opportunity-focused organization, love working with diverse customers and are excited by the challenge of helping customers solve problems and be more successful. They are emotionally connected to what they do.
Success in sales begins with a talent and passion for being a very social animal and loving interaction with other people. If you enjoy meeting new people and asking them questions that reveal information about them…and they actually answer, you probably have a talent for sales. If you love traveling to new places because it is exciting to discover new things, you probably have a talent for sales. If you enjoy understanding why other people do what they do…and you’re actually right sometimes, you probably have a talent for sales. If you enjoy driving a different or new route to a location that you have traveled to many times before – to see what is new, different or could create an opportunity – you probably have a talent for sales.
But, if you prefer analyzing numbers to making creative changes, sales is not likely a good fit for you. If you prefer working with a computer screen instead of with a person, sales is not likely to inspire you. If you are not self-motivated or not interested in independent performance, then you have other talents than sales. If you take rejection personally, and when someone says “no” to your request, you feel rejected for days, your talents are not likely in sales.
Successful salespeople do what they do because they are passionate about connection; they connect with people and they connect solutions to problems. They are thrilled by the hunt for customers, for innovative ideas, for winning and for standing out. It is part of who they are.
So, ask a successful sales person “why do you do what you do?” They’ll say, “It is in line with my talents and I love doing it. I get excited each morning knowing that I get to do it again. It makes me feel important, valuable and successful. I make a difference, have fun and get a chance to be great.” The goal in today’s intellectual and service workplace is to cast all employees into roles where they answer the same way – “I do what I do because if fits my talents, I’m good at it and I love doing it.”
So, what would you say if someone asked you, “Why do you do what you do?” Don’t do it if you don’t love it…because you just won’t be great at it. And today, good isn’t great…and great is what it takes to be successful.